20 Great Ways to Find More Free Time before the New Year!

“The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure.” – Henry David Thoreau

Are there a hundred different things you wish you could do with your life someday — anything from exercising to meditation or yoga to writing that novel you always wished you could write to reading more to relaxing and watching the sunrise?

But perhaps you never have the time, like most people.

The truth is, we all have the same amount of time, and it’s finite and in great demand. But some of us have made the time for doing the things we love doing, and others have allowed the constant demands and pressures and responsibilities of life to dictate their days.

It’s time to move from the second group back into the first. Reclaim your time. Create the life you want and make the most of the free time you lay claim to.

It’s not hard, though it does take a little bit of effort and diligence.

Reclaiming that free time

Take my life, for example: there was a time, not too long ago, when my day was packed from morning to night, when I had meetings and long to-do lists and worked long hours and the rest of my time was filled up with social engagements and meetings for civic responsibilities. I had little time for my family, which ate me up, and little time to do the things I’ve always wanted to do.

I’ve always wanted to write, but never had the time. I’ve always wanted to exercise, but was too busy. I always wanted to travel, but who can get away? I’ve always wanted to spend time with my kids, but work comes first, right?

Wrong. I finally got smart and decided that my life is my own, to do with as I wished, and so I took a time out to decide what I really wanted my life to be like. Then I designed my life, and made a series of decisions and steps to get my life to what I wanted it to be.

Today, I wake early and exercise or spend some quiet time reading and writing. I’ve written a novel and a non-fiction book. I write this blog. I run and have finally run a marathon (two actually) and completed a triathlon. I spend afternoons and evenings and all weekends with my kids and wife.

My life is what I’ve always wanted it to be, because I designed it to be that way and worked to make that design come true.

It can be that way for you, to the extent that you’re willing to make changes. Even if you just want to free up a little time for a hobby or for doing something relaxing, you can do that.

20 Ways to Find More Free Time

Not all of these will be applicable to your life — choose the ones you can apply and give them a try:

  1. Take a time out. Freeing up your time starts with taking a step back to take a good look at your life. You need to block off at least an hour. Several hours or half a day is better. A whole day would be awesome. A weekend would be even more ideal, though not necessary practical for many folks. With this block of time, take a look at your life with some perspective. Is it what you’ve always wanted? How would you get to where you’ve always wanted to be? What do you enjoy doing, but don’t have enough time to do? What things actually fill up your day? Are there things you could drop or minimize to make more time? We’ll look at some of these things in the following items, but it starts with taking a time out to think and plan.
  2. Find your essentials. What is it that you love to do? Make a short list of 4-5 things. These are the things you want to make room for.
  3. Find your time-wasters. What do you spend a lot of your time on that isn’t on your essential list? Take a close look at these things and really think about whether they’re necessary, or if there are ways to reduce, minimize or eliminate these things. Sometimes you do things because you assume they’re necessary, but if you give it some thought you can find ways to drop them from your life. Figure out what you do simply to waste time — maybe surfing certain sites, watching TV, talking a lot at the water cooler, etc. You’re going to want to minimize these time-wasters to make room for the more important stuff, the stuff that makes you happy and that you love to do.
  4. Schedule the time. As you sit down and think about your life and what you want to do, versus what you actually do, you will be looking at ways to free up time. It’s crucial that you take a blank weekly schedule (you can just write it out on a piece of paper, or use your calendar) and assign blocks for the things you love — the stuff on your essentials list. If you want to exercise, for example, when will you do it? Put the blocks of time on your schedule, and make these blocks the most important appointments of your week. Schedule the rest of your life around these blocks.
  5. Consolidate. There are many things you do, scattered throughout your day or your week, that you might be able to consolidate in order to save time. A good example is errands — instead of running one or two a day, do them all in one day to save time and gas. Another example is email, or any kind of communication — batch process your email instead of checking and reading and responding throughout the day. Same thing with meetings, paperwork, anything that you do regularly.
  6. Cut out meetings. This isn’t possible for everyone, but in my experience meetings take up a lot of time to get across a little information, or to make easy decisions that could be made via email or phone. As much as you can, minimize the number of meetings you hold and attend. In some cases this might mean talking to your boss and telling her that you have other priorities, and asking to be excused. In other cases this might mean asking the people holding the meeting if you can get the info in other ways. If so, you’ve saved yourself an hour or so per meeting (sometimes more).
  7. Declutter your schedule. If you have a heavily packed schedule, full of meetings and errands and tasks and projects and appointments, you’re going to want to weed it out so that it’s not so jam-packed. Find the stuff that’s not so essential and cancel them. Postpone other stuff. Leave big blank spaces in your schedule.
  8. Re-think your routine. Often we get stuck in a routine that’s anything but what we really want our days to be like. Is there a better way of doing things? You’re the creator of your life — make a new routine that’s more pleasant, more optimal, more filled with things you love.
  9. Cut back on email. I mentioned email in an earlier point above, regarding consolidating, but it’s such a major part of most people’s lives that it deserves special attention. How often do you check email? How much time do you spend composing emails? If you spend a major part of your work day on email, as many people do (and as I once did), you can free up a lot of time by reducing the time you spend in email. Now, this won’t work for everyone, but it can work for many people: choose 2-3 key times during the day to process your inbox to empty, and keep your responses to 5 sentences.
  10. Learn to say no. If you say “yes” to every request, you will never have any free time. Get super protective about your time, and say “no” to everything but the essential requests.
  11. Keep your list to 3. When you make out your daily to-do list, just list the three Most Important Tasks you want to accomplish today. Don’t make a laundry list of tasks, or you’ll fill up all your free time. By keeping your task list small, but populated only by important tasks, you ensure that you are getting the important stuff done but not overloading yourself.
  12. Do your Biggest Rock first. Of the three Most Important Tasks you choose for the day, pick the biggest one, or the one you’re dreading most, and do that first. Otherwise you’ll put that off as much as possible and fill your day with less important things. Don’t allow yourself to check email until that Big Rock is taken care of. It starts your day with a sense of major accomplishment, and leaves you with a lot of free time the rest of the day, because the most important thing is already done.
  13. Delegate. If you have subordinates or coworkers who can do a task or project, try to delegate it. Don’t feel like you need to do everything yourself. If necessary, spend a little time training the person to whom you’re delegating the task, but that little time spent training will pay off in a lot of time saved later. Delegating allows you to focus on the core tasks and projects you should be focusing on.
  14. Cut out distractions. What is there around your workspace that distracts you from the task at hand? Sometimes it’s visual clutter, or papers lying around that call for your attention and action, or email or IM notifiers on your computer that pop up at the wrong time, or the phone, or coworkers. See if you can eliminate as many of these as possible — the more you can focus, the more effective you’ll be and the less time you’ll waste. That equals time saved for the good stuff.
  15. Disconnect. The biggest of distractions, for most people, is the Internet. My most productive times are when I’m disconnected from the grid. Now, I’m not saying you need to be disconnected all the time, but if you really want to be able to effectively complete tasks, disconnect your Internet so you can really focus. Set certain times of the day for connectivity, and only connect during those periods.
  16. Outsource. If you can’t delegate, see if you can outsource. With the Internet, we can connect with people from all over the world. I’ve outsourced many things, from small tasks to checking email to legal work to design and editing work and more. That allows me to focus on the things I’m best at, the things I love doing, and saves me a lot of time.
  17. Make use of your mornings. I find that mornings are the absolute best times to schedule the things I really want to do. I run, read and write in the mornings — three of the four things on my Essentials List (spending time with family is the other thing on the list). Mornings are great because your day hasn’t been filled with a bunch of unscheduled, demanding, last-minute tasks that will push back those Essentials. For example, if you schedule something for late afternoon, by the time late afternoon rolls around, you might have a dozen other things newly added to your to-do list, and you’ll put off that late-afternoon Essential. Instead, schedule it for the morning, and it’ll rarely (if ever) get pushed back.
  18. The Golden Right-after-work Time. Other than mornings, I find the time just after work to be an incredible time for doing Essential things. Exercise, for example, is great in the 5-o’clock hour, as is spending time with family, or doing anything else relaxing.
  19. Your evenings. The time before you go to bed is also golden, as it exists every single day, and it’s usually completely yours to schedule. What do you want to do with this time? Read? Spend time with your kids? Work on a hobby you’re passionate about? Take advantage of this time.
  20. Lunch breaks. If the three golden times mentioned above don’t work for you, lunch breaks are another good opportunity to schedule things. Some people like to exercise, or to take quiet times, during their lunch breaks. Others use this time to work on an important personal goal or project.

Now picture yourself in the hammock…

To your success

Bobby

What Can Be the Best Online Business Ideas for 2018?

Hi

2017 is coming to an end.

I’ll be glad to share some ideas about online business in 2018.

What Can Be the Best Online Business Ideas for 2018?
1. Blogging (I prefer, cause I’m a blogger )
2. Affiliate Marketing
3. E-Commerce
4. T-Shirt Selling
5. Graphic Design, Sell Services on Fiverr, UpWork etc.
6. SEO Consultant
7. PPC Expert
8. Content Writer
9. Social Media Marketer
10. Web Design Services
11. Web or WordPress Developing
12. Start Web Hosting Business
13. Online Tutor – like Khan Academy

These are my most favorite options, what are your options?

Thanks. To your success,

Bobby

The Secret Habit to Success!

 

We’ve talked about forming habits now and there. But forming habits is a skill that takes practice, and as with any skill, it’s best to start with the very basics, at the smallest and easiest level, and practice it until you’re good at it before moving on to more difficult levels.

Let’s get back to the most basic level possible: working on the habit of forming habits.

In Og Mandino’s self-help classic, The Greatest Salesman in the World, one of his more powerful concepts is how to form good habits:

I will form good habits and become their slave.

I will read each scroll for thirty days in this prescribed manner, before I proceed to the next scroll.

First, I will read the words in silence when I arise. Then, I will read the words in silence after I have partaken of my midday meal. Last, I will read the words again just before I retire at day’s end, and most important, on this occasion I will read the words aloud.

On the next day I will repeat this procedure, and I will continue in like manner for thirty days. Then, I will turn to the next scroll and repeat this procedure for another thirty days. I will continue in this manner until I have lived with each scroll for thirty days and my reading has become habit.

So basically, the habit is to read from the 10 Scrolls for 30 days each, morning, noon and night — but the challenging part is holding back so you only do one scroll per month. And the first month, you focus on the process of forming those good habits.

If you draw from that powerful concept, and start by first teaching yourself how to form a habit, and then focus on one habit for each of the following months, you will be more successful with each habit.

So here’s the secret: for the first month’s habit, you need to develop the discipline of reading a mantra morning, noon and night – the First Habit. It can be a mantra you write yourself, or one that I suggest below. If you can stick to that habit for a month, you can build on that success and start with a second habit — staying with another small one is best. Each month, you can work on a new habit, focusing on only one per month. But the key is to have the patience to work on only that First Habit for the first month.

Most of us have a bunch of habits we’d like to instill in our daily routine — from eating healthy, to exercise, reading, writing, waking early, organization, frugality and more — and it’s hard not to try to conquer them all at once. But if you can do this, and hold off on those habits until you’ve accomplished this one, you’ll have a much, much greater chance of success at all of them. Having the patience to do this won’t be easy, but remember: you have your entire life ahead of you. If you follow this program, and you’re successful, you’ll have eight more habits developed by the end of this year (starting with your next habit in May), and 12 more the next year, and so on. It’s worth the wait.

So how do you implement this First Habit? Here’s the plan:

  1. Commit Thyself.Commit to doing this First Habit for the rest of this month (or if you’re starting late, do it for 30 days).
  2. Morning Habit.Every morning, when you wake up, silently read this mantra (borrowed in part from reader Ann M., and in part from Og Mandino): “Today, I start a new life. Today, I create a new, positive habit. The only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits. Good habits are the key to all success. Thus, the first law I will obey is: I will form good habits and become their slave. Today, I take control of my actions and behaviors. With these, I create my life and destiny.”
  3. Midday Habit.Every day after you eat lunch, silently read the above mantra.
  4. Evening Habit.Every evening, just before you go to bed, read the above mantra out loud.
  5. Tracking Habit.Create a chart or log, and each day give yourself a checkmark, gold star, or other such mark so that you can see that you’ve done the habit every single day. Don’t miss a day, no matter what — if you can do it every day, without fail, you will have create a 3x-a-day habit that you can use to build upon for your next habit.
  6. Future Habits.Make a list of what habits you’d like to work on each month, once you’ve successfully completed the First Habit.
  7. Motivation Hacks.If possible, use as many of the Top 20 Motivation hacks to help you stick to your habit for the rest of the month.
  8. Celebration Time!Celebrate your successes along the way, and celebrate when you’re done!

Resolve yourself to this First Habit, and you’ll be inspired by your own success. From Og Mandino:

And I make a solemn oath to myself that nothing will retard my new life’s growth. I will lose not a day from these readings for that day cannot be retrieved nor can I substitute another for it. I must not , I will not, break this habit of daily reading from these scrolls and, in truth, the few moments spent each day on this new habit are but a small price to pay for the happiness and success that will be mine.

So here’s your challenge: Commit to doing this First Habit, morning noon and night, for a month. That simple. Then you can move on to other habits, once this one is established.

To your success!

Bobby Wan

Benefits of Rising Early, and HOW to Do It

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” – Ben Franklin, famously

“Put no trust in the benefits to accrue from early rising, as set forth by the infatuated Franklin …” – Mark Twain

Recently, I was asked me about my habit of waking at 4:30 a.m. each day, and asked me to write about the health benefits of rising early, which I thought was an excellent question. Unfortunately, there are none, that I know of.

However, there are a ton of other great benefits.

Now, let me first say that if you are a night owl, and that works for you, I think that’s great. There’s no reason to change, especially if you’re happy with it. But for me, switching from being a night owl to an early riser (and yes, it is possible) has been a godsend. It has helped me in so many ways that I’d never go back. Here are just a few:

  1. Greet the day. I love being able to get up, and greet a wonderful new day. I suggest creating a morning ritual that includes saying thanks for your blessings. I’m inspired by the Dalai Lama, who said, ” Everyday, think as you wake up, ‘today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.’ “
  2. Amazing start. I used to start my day by jumping out of bed, late as usual, and rushing to get myself and everybody else ready, and and come in to work late. I would walk into work, looking rumpled and barely awake, grumpy and behind everyone else. Not a great start to your day. Now, I have a renewing morning ritual, I’ve gotten so much done before 8 a.m., and by the time everyone else gets in to work, I’ve already gotten a head start. There is no better way to start off your day than to wake early, in my experience.
  3. Quietude. No kids yelling, no babies crying, no soccer balls, no cars, no television noise. The early morning hours are so peaceful, so quiet. It’s my favorite time of day. I truly enjoy that time of peace, that time to myself, when I can think, when I can read, when I can breathe.
  4. Sunrise. People who wake late miss one of the greatest feats of nature, repeated in full stereo vision each and every day — the rise of the sun. I love how the day slowly gets brighter, when the midnight blue turns to lighter blue, when the brilliant colors start to seep into the sky, when nature is painted in incredible colors. I like doing my early morning run during this time, and I look up at the sky as I run and say to the world, “What a glorious day!” Really. I really do that. Corny, I know.
  5. Breakfast. Rise early and you actually have time for breakfast. I’m told it’s one of the most important meals of the day. Without breakfast, your body is running on fumes until you are so hungry at lunchtime that you eat whatever unhealthy thing you can find. The fattier and sugarier, the betterier. But eat breakfast, and you are sated until later. Plus, eating breakfast while reading my book and drinking my coffee in the quiet of the morning is eminently more enjoyable than scarfing something down on the way to work, or at your desk.
  6. Exercise. There are other times to exercise besides the early morning, of course, but I’ve found that while exercising right after work is also very enjoyable, it’s also liable to be canceled because of other things that come up. Morning exercise is virtually never canceled.
  7. Productivity. Mornings, for me at least, are the most productive time of day. I like to do some writing in the morning, when there are no distractions, before I check my email or blog stats. I get so much more done by starting on my work in the morning. Then, when evening rolls around, I have no work that I need to do, and I can spend it with family.
  8. Goal time. Got goals? Well, you should. And there’s no better time to review them and plan for them and do your goal tasks than first thing. You should have one goal that you want to accomplish this week. And every morning, you should decide what one thing you can do today to move yourself further towards that goal. And then, if possible, do that first thing in the morning.
  9. Commute. No one likes rush-hour traffic. Commute early, and the traffic is much lighter, and you get to work faster, and thus save yourself more time. Or better yet, commute by bike. (Or even better yet, work from home.)
  10. Appointments. It’s much easier to make those early appointments on time if you get up early. Showing up late for those appointments is a bad signal to the person you’re meeting. Showing up early will impress them. Plus, you get time to prepare.

How to Become an Early Riser

  1. Don’t make drastic changes. Start slowly, by waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual. Get used to this for a few days. Then cut back another 15 minutes. Do this gradually until you get to your goal time.
  2. Allow yourself to sleep earlier. You might be used to staying up late, perhaps watching TV or surfing the Internet. But if you continue this habit, while trying to get up earlier, sooner or later one is going to give. And if it is the early rising that gives, then you will crash and sleep late and have to start over. I suggest going to bed earlier, even if you don’t think you’ll sleep, and read while in bed. If you’re really tired, you just might fall asleep much sooner than you think.
  3. Put your alarm clock far from you bed. If it’s right next to your bed, you’ll shut it off or hit snooze. Never hit snooze. If it’s far from your bed, you have to get up out of bed to shut it off. By then, you’re up. Now you just have to stay up.
  4. Go out of the bedroom as soon as you shut off the alarm. Don’t allow yourself to rationalize going back to bed. Just force yourself to go out of the room. My habit is to stumble into the bathroom and go pee. By the time I’ve done that, and flushed the toilet and washed my hands and looked at my ugly mug in the mirror, I’m awake enough to face the day.
  5. Do not rationalize. If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.
  6. Have a good reason. Set something to do early in the morning that’s important. This reason will motivate you to get up. I like to write in the morning, so that’s my reason. Also, when I’m done with that, I like to read all of your comments!
  7. Make waking up early a reward. Yes, it might seem at first that you’re forcing yourself to do something hard, but if you make it pleasurable, soon you will look forward to waking up early. A good reward is to make a hot cup of coffee or tea and read a book. Other rewards might be a tasty treat for breakfast (smoothies! yum!) or watching the sunrise, or meditating. Find something that’s pleasurable for you, and allow yourself to do it as part of your morning routine.
  8. Take advantage of all that extra time. Don’t wake up an hour or two early just to read your blogs, unless that’s a major goal of yours. Don’t wake up early and waste that extra time. Get a jump start on your day!

I like to use that time to get a head start on preparing my lunches, on planning for the rest of the day), on exercising or meditating, and on reading. By the time 6:30 rolls around, I’ve done more than many people do the entire day.

To your success!
Bobby

Do You Have FINANCIAL IQ?

FINANCIAL IQ

Financial IQ is a very important aspect of management whether it is a company or an individual to run its business and family respectively. How to manage the usage of income stream, i.e. regular expenditures, savings, investments and other contingency planning.Prudent allocation of funds to these is very crucial for maximizing your wealth as only savings won’t make you richer but the proper investments will. You become richer by increasing your Assets Portfolio and most of us do not know the difference between the Assets and the Liabilities.

Similarly, we need to be proactive to prepare a corpus for the unfavourable times as we are living in a volatile world where there are always possibilities of economic slowdown and uncertainities. We always need to have a contingency plan to fall back on.

Apart from that, keeping track and record of income and various expenses can be very helpful to monitor and control the unnecessary outflow, which would result in more savings

Also, always keep a balance of long term and short term financial goals. This refers to the sagaciousness in financial management, as it is always not the case that we receive a fixed income stream in the form of salary i. e. When do not have a permanent job.

This will help not only in this situation, but also in contingencies.

The epitome of the potential of financial management is the success of Warren Buffet, one of the richest persons of the world

Following are some famous ideas of him, which can be helpful for anyone

  • You do not have to be genius to invest well, But, master the basics
  • Bad things are not obvious when times are good (i.e. Bad phase can come anytime)
  • Price is what you pay and value is what you get.

To your financial IQ success!



Download Android Financial IQ App Here!

Bobby

Guide to App-Game Marketing!

There are 3 Million + combined iOS and Android apps on the stores, and that number can feel like a Mount Everest that you, as a mobile app developer, have to climb to have success.

Inside this guide we have collected all the mobile app marketing recommendations from  past blog posts. These great strategies will strengthen your connection with your customers and provide you with invaluable feedback.

Don’t forget: a great marketing strategy may help a weak app have more success than a strong one.

Click Here to Download App-Game Marketing Guide!

To your success!

Bob

Entrepreneurs Guide To Focus

Focus: What It Is and How it Works

First things first. What is focus, really? Experts define focus as the act of concentrating your interest or activity on something. That’s a somewhat boring definition, but there is an important insight hiding inside that definition.

What is Focus?

In order to concentrate on one thing you must, by default, ignore many other things.

Here’s a better way to put it:

Focus can only occur when we have said yes to one option and no to all other options. In other words, elimination is a prerequisite for focus.

As the saying goes, “What you don’t do determines what you can do.”

It’s so easy to lose focus, and become susceptible to being busy but not productive.

Sometimes we miss deadlines and unfortunately we even put off important things and then we wonder where our concentration has gone.

As an entrepreneur, you have a lot on your plate. Staying focused can be tough with a constant stream of employees, clients, emails, and phone calls demanding your attention. Amid the noise, understanding your brain’s limitations and working around them can improve your focus and increase your productivity.

Successful entrepreneurship and productive leadership require a sharp focus and high effectiveness.

So how do you cultivate great concentration and improve your focus?

Focus and concentration can be difficult to master. Sure, most people want to learn how to improve focus and boost concentration. But actually doing it? We live in a noisy world and constant distractions can make focus difficult.

Better focus means better work, calmer days and more free time. The down side? There isn’t one.

Android Only

Click Here to  Download Entrepreneurs Guide To Focus Now!

To your success!

The AAA Approach To Getting the Best Work Out of People

If you are a manager or leader, it’s no doubt obvious to you that your ability to elicit the best from others plays a major role in your ability to deliver results.

If your team resists your feedback, your ideas, and your direction, you will get a small fraction of what they are capable of — both in terms of quality and quantity of work. Also, your ability to engage your peers and your manager productively plays a huge role in your success.

Even if you are not a manager, your ability to engage people in productive conversations, get buy-in for your ideas, and foster productive relationships will not only affect your current job performance, it will profoundly influence the trajectory of your career path.

A 3 step approach for bringing out the best

That’s why I want to identify the AAA approach to bringing out the best in others and helping them do their best work:

  1. Ask
  2. Acknowledge
  3. Appreciate

These three simple, yet powerful, communication practices will bring you better results from other people, and, move you much farther in your career than will old school command and control or sell and yell approaches to influencing others.

1. Ask

  • Make it an ongoing practice to ask others for their perspectives, ideas, and unique ways of doing things. This not only helps you continue to grow, it shows you care about and are interested in what that person has to say, a message that most people don’t get nearly enough in their lives.
  • When coaching someone, look for opportunities to ask questions, rather than give advice. Rather than say “Here’s how I would have done it” or worse “Here’s what you should have done,” ask “If you had to do it over again, how might you have done it differently?” Fight the ego-satisfying feeling of being the one with the answers and solutions and instead, exercise the discipline of helping others learn to access their own answers and inner wisdom.
  • When someone shares something that happened to them, show your interest by asking questions. This is one of the most powerful ways of showing you care about them and what they have to say.
  • When you don’t think an idea that was just offered is a sound one, instead of immediately saying why it won’t work, ask for more information. Ask to hear more about their rationale.

    2. Acknowledge


  • When someone shares an idea in a meeting, acknowledge it rather than quickly going on to your idea or your point of view. Don’t leave them with the feeling of, “What I just said didn’t matter. It didn’t even register.
  • Acknowledge other’s contributions in meetings or over time by referencing them later. For instance: “I was thinking of what you said Ashley at last week’s meeting about X, and it made me think that maybe it would be good for us to…
  • When someone shares something that happened to them — especially if it was clearly meaningful or difficult — acknowledge that you heard and that you understand what they said and/or the significance to them. It can be as simple as saying “Wow…that sounds pretty intense” or “I can imagine that felt pretty good…” Then, use the first A of the AAA. Ask them a question to encourage them to share more.
  • Show you “see” others by acknowledging their individual preferences, interests, strengths, and quirks. People hunger to be “seen” and to feel like others “get” them. This shows them you do.
  • When someone goes above and beyond to get the job done or goes out of their way to be helpful, let them know you noticed.

    3. Appreciate

  • When someone goes above and beyond to get the job done or goes out of their way to be helpful, let them know you appreciate them doing that. When appropriate, share why what they did is so meaningful and the difference it made.
  • When someone sends you something that’s helpful, or they hoped would be helpful, let them know you appreciate their thoughtfulness. Don’t leave them wondering if A) you ever received what they sent, or B) you take their thoughtfulness for granted. Fewer things dampen someone’s interest in another person — and their motivation to help them —  than being taken for granted.
  • Look for opportunities to express appreciation for other’s contributions, role-modeling of desirable behaviors, hard work, being easy to work with, and anything else that they do that you find helpful or commendable.
  • Practice being more mindful of situations where you could say “Thank you.” Not only will this simple courtesy make you stand out from all the others who don’t bother to do this, it is also a way for you to “be the change” and model a more thoughtful, considerate way of receiving the thoughtfulness and good deeds of others.

To your success!

 

Project Success Is All About The People

In reviewing project successes and failures, it turns out that project success has little to do with the technical aspect of projects. Instead, it is all about the people.

Within the last year, we’ve been called by clients struggling with issues ranging from poor delivery performance to sagging margins, while other clients want to ensure they are prepared for strong revenue growth. Every one of these clients required some sort of project to deliver the intended results – growth, profits, margins, cash flow, and efficiencies. Company sizes ranged from $7 million to $50 million to $250 million dollar facilities of multi-billion dollar companies. Industries ranged from building products to aerospace to food. Project scopes ranged from SIOP (sales, inventory, and operations planning) to a dramatic improvement in customer service levels to ERP selection to support the company strategy. Yet despite these differences, every project boiled down to people.

It is commonplace to think that project success has everything to do with whether the technical elements “add up” or whether best practice processes are utilized. Although these can be important, they are not the key driver to project success. Instead, it boils down to people.

Recently, we went into a new client to evaluate a group that was perceived to be struggling so that we could straighten out the challenges. Although there is always something to improve, this group alone was not the root cause of the challenges. There definitely were some technical challenges to resolve; however, the 80/20 related to connections and perceptions – in essence, the people element.

In another client, we have been working on an ERP project with multiple parties. It certainly hit some bumps in the road along the way. Some are typical bottlenecks with these sorts of projects, and some were atypical. What is sure is that 100% of the challenges resulted from the people equation, even though it was a technical project. Miscommunication and the lack of communication abound. Thus, our role became one of connector among several diverse roles and people. Again, the people aspect drove the “80/20” of success.

So, what are a few strategies to keep your project in the “green” when it comes to people?

  • Project leader: Since success begins and ends with leadership, start here. Project leadership is always harder than is originally thought and can be a thankless job. Be upfront and stay in front of this danger!
  • Don’t bother creating a team: Radical but true. A true team will sink or swim together. Unless you can affect each individual’s salary, bonus and workload (which is an extreme request in 99.9% of projects as they are cross-functional in nature), don’t expect your group to work as a team with the expectation that everyone has the same goal from their day-to-day manager. Instead, find a way to use these diverse backgrounds to your advantage. Bring the group together on specific tasks, engage individuals in a way that works for their particular situation and day-to-day manager.
  • Communicate the why: No matter what else happens, the number one priority should be to communicate the why behind the project. One way to bring this group of individuals together for a common purpose is to make sure the purpose is crystal clear – and the why behind the project is understood and energizing.
  • Follow up selectively: Since we know that cross-functional project teams run into many conflicting objectives and challenges, it is important not to waste precious energy on non-essential tasks. Focus selectively on what will move the project forward and ensure success – in essence, ignore everything but the critical path.
  • Celebrate successes: Don’t wait for the project to be completed successfully. Instead, look for wins along the way. If success or failure boils down to people, it is wise to think about what will keep people motivated. Ignoring them while they overcome daily obstacles might be commonplace but it won’t equate to success. Catch people doing right.
  • Get rid of poor performers: One of the most important things a leader can do is to address poor performers. It gives your top performers hope that you understand what’s required for success and that you appreciate top talent.

Without people, there are no projects. Since projects can drive substantial results, it is worth figuring out how to stack the odds in your favor. And, the great news is that there is no deep, technical understanding required to lead a project effectively. Instead, your ability to ask good questions and lead people are the keys to success as a project leader.

Give us the best leaders with mediocre technical skills any day vs. mediocre leaders with excellent technical skills. Undoubtedly, the project will deliver dramatic improvements to your business instead of continually struggling.

Managing People & Expectations

When you are managing a certain project, managing people involved with the project is perhaps the most difficult thing.

How can you better manage people in your project, and how can you handle the expectations of both the clients and your employer?

We will be using the concepts of analytical objectivity to better understand human expectations, and how to best manage people. Understanding people and their nature is very important when you are a project manager. So, read on.

Managing People

What exactly do we mean by the term managing? According to some of the top dictionaries, the word managing means:

• To dominate, control, handle, be in charge, govern
• To succeed in handling and every challenge
• To take charge of and care and make decisions for
• To direct a profession or career in the right direction

Almost everyone is in the habit of managing something. Generally, people try to manage themselves, but project managers are responsible for managing all aspects of a project. In the same way, CEOs have the responsibility of managing the entire company.

Management seems to be an easy job from the outside – it seems like it is all about taking charge and getting things done the proper way. But there are actually several problems and issues associated with proper and effective management.

These problems are associated with the necessary levels of domination, control, decision-making and caretaking. Management always involves the egos of people working in managerial capacities. This makes the situation quite complex for even the best project manager.

Managing People In An Effective Manner

When you manage with effectiveness, you add value to the project. But you need to remember that it is not a direct performance of any sort. You get useful outcomes with direct performances.

When you manage in an effective manner, you bring about improvements in direct performances. This, in the end, results in much better success levels. Let us look at an example.

A manager is responsible for creating a work environment, which acts as a life support system for performers to give their best possible work performance. The environment will also not be weighted down by management and administrative duties.

An effective manager will always try to stay out of the entire job process by setting up a management system that helps an organization or a project team to handle the entire project on their own. This is, in simpler terms, a way to express rational and clear expectations.

Expectations may include performance and product objectives, along with clear responsibilities and roles of each and every member of the project management team.

An important part of this entire process is status reporting, which needs to be accurate and regular. The report must showcase each and every aspect of the project at their current states. It should also contain information about various risks and issues and their respective solutions, all associated with the project itself.

Criticism And Accountability

Accountability plays an important role in the entire project management process. A proper management process ensures that each and every member of the management team is accountable for the work given to them. A positive working environment with positive performance is what makes a project successful and fruitful.

But criticism is something that cannot be understood by anyone who does not have a proper understanding of their responsibility, nor do they understand how criticism can help them improve in their job functions. Many people are defensive when it comes to facing criticism, as they are afraid they will be embarrassed. But in all actuality, a good critique can turn the tide of a project management team’s performance level.

An effective and proficient project manager ensures that all the team members working under him are proficient enough. These team members need to be performing all duties assigned to them. They are responsible for passing on criticism to all the team members. This will either show them where they might be going wrong or may be to assist them in becoming even better.

Managing Expectations

When you, the project manager, are accountable for the performance of your entire team, you should also be ready to handle expectations – expectations of the clients, expectations of the CEO, expectations of the team members in terms of remuneration, etc. You even need to manage your own expectations of your team members. There are a few questions, the answers to which you must know if you wish to manage other people’s expectations:

• What are the expectations based on?
• Is it professional standard, perfectionism or wishful thinking?
• Does your team have any clue about what you expect of them?
• Are the expectations reasonable or foolhardy?
• Do you have any contingency plan if any contingency is not met?

If you know the accurate answers to these questions, then managing all expectations becomes a whole lot easier.

Coming up soon Project Success is All About the People    

Stay tuned!

Beginner’s Guide to Reiki

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a spiritual healing art with its roots in Japanese origin. The word Reiki comes from the Japanese word (Rei) which means “Universal Life” and (Ki) which means “Energy”.

Reiki is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious practice. It is not massage nor is it based on belief or suggestion. It is a subtle and effective form of energywork using spiritually guided life force energy.

Reiki is the life energy that flows through all living things.

Where does it come from?

Reiki, as it is practiced in the U.S. today, dates back to the teachings of Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 1920’s.

Reiki Practitioners understand that everyone has the ability to connect with their own healing energy and use it to strengthen energy in themselves and help others. It is believed that a person’s “ki” or energy should be strong and free flowing. When this is true a person’s body and mind is in a positive state of health. When the energy becomes weak or blocked it could lead to symptoms of physical or emotional imbalance.

What is Reiki used to Treat?

Reiki is a great tool for stress reduction and relaxation. Many people use Reiki for wellness. Reiki is not a cure for a disease or illness, but it may assist the body in creating an environment to facilitate healing. Reiki is a great tool to use as a complement to traditional medicine and is practiced in many hospitals and medical care settings.

To your good health

Reiki is meant to be used as a complement to traditional care or as a personal relaxation or stress reducing tool. It is not a substitute for qualified medical or traditional care.

Android Users: Download Here

10 Things That Would Happen If The Internet Collapsed

We all may not want to admit it but without the internet, our lives will collapse. What do i mean? There are things that without the internet would be completely useless, things that we may have taken for granted because we use them everyday, things that we often use then one day found out that it uses internet.

We all may not want to admit it but without the internet, our lives will collapse. What do i mean? There are things that without the internet would be completely useless, things that we may have taken for granted because we use them everyday, things that we often use then one day (by reading this amazingly written article) we just found out that it uses internet. I am here to shine a light on all these everyday objects we don’t care about just because we don’t know how much we would actually need it if they were for some reason  gone. Internet is today one of the most important part of our everyday lives. There are a large number of things that can be done with the use of the internet and so it is very important. Today internet is used for different purposes depending upon the requirement. It is amazing how useful the internet is and yet most people are unaware of the numerous benefits of the internet.  The internet is useful in each and every field. You can use it for education, share market, business and much more. You can also use it for sports, news update, mobile themes, wallpapers, video’s, softwares and so on. The internet is very useful, provided you use it correctly. It helps you to stay connected with the world. you can keep the current records of the whole world at your fingertips.

How exactly the Internet Plug could ever get pulled is a complicated question, due to the expansive infrastructure that makes up the Internet. It would probably require the shutting down of every server and local DNS around the world. Some people have spoken about a major virus infection spreading through all servers and computers, rendering them / the Internet in a paralyzed state. There is also another wild theory where by the wind generated by huge solar flares will disrupt anything that carries current, from telegraph wires, anything metal, computers, servers etc. You can read about this theory if you Google “Carrington Event of 1959” This theory is said to be predicted by Nasa.

What would life be like without the World Wide Web. An interesting question in an age where the Internet plays an integral part of everyday life, business and society! So what are the implications of a life without the internet? Well firstly we should ask the question in a more specific circumstance. What would life be like with no Internet if the ‘plug’ was pulled today? We’ll be looking at this topic from this angle, rather than trying to imagine the world without the Internet had it never been invented. Why? Because the difference of life without the internet ever invented and life with internet shut down today is incredibly and surprisingly massive.

10: No More Food In Stores

When i say no more food, i don’t mean that there is going to be absolutely no more food existing on the earth. I mean there will be no more food or snacks available in any store. The reason for this is that many food manufacturers rely heavily on the internet for many things from ordering supplies to shipping and so on.

9: No Access To Money

Think for a moment about the topic of this article, now think about all that hard earned money you got, stored inside your bank account. Can’t wait to cash out all that green, right?. Now let’s say the exact day after the internet collapsed, you decide this is the day you cash out that green, what do you see? A long line standing in front of a closed down bank. I’ll let you think about the rest.

8: Unemployment

Food manufacturers are not the only ones who rely so heavily on the internet. Think about all these big companies that rely on the internet for most of their job. As soon the internet crumbles, they crumble as well, and as soon as they crumble, hundreds and thousands of millions of people all fired and left unemployed.

7: Harder Communication

Ok, this one’s not so much of a big surprise, communication on the whole relies heavily on the internet. Without internet powered communication such as email, video calling and so on, we will all have to go back to communication of the old days. We are going to have to go back to communicating by sending letters and other means.

6: Harder Shopping

If you have never shopped for something online at least once, then you have LITERALLY been living under a rock Mr Patrick. Now i am not counting the people who don’t have computers or internet but if you are reading this article right now and you haven’t shopped for anything online, then it’s true you really have been living under a rock. People that have done that know how much internet is needed for this, from placing the order to tracking the shipping, internet is used for almost half of the process.

5: Chaos In Transportation

Not many of you reading this right now, right here would know this but traffic lights, yes, traffic lights use internet,  the thing is traffic lights use the internet to get updates on the traffic, so that means if the internet were to collapse the traffic lights would either keep going except send the wrong signals or the trafic lights will stop completely all around the world, hard to tell what would really happen

4: Harder Research

We may not know how important this one is now but once and more importantly if the internet were to for some reason collapse in order to do research you need to go through hundreds and maybe even thousands of books in a library to find out that specific information. Ever since the internet came alive, everything is available just one click away. Right now that we have internet available all we have to do to get some form of information is “Google It”.

3: Entertainment

Probably going to be a big problem for a whole lot of people. From watching your favorite videos to listening songs, playing games, chatting with your friends, watching movies and so on have all been possible due to the internet. Entertainment has proven to be one of the most important uses of internet.

2: Airport Chaos

Although this one’s pretty obvious, you probably never thought about it before. Since the birth of the internet, it became easier to set appointments for various activities. One of the most important activities were booking flight appointments. Who knows how the airline industry would function at all without the internet.

1: Job Search

Now this one is very important. In addition to unemployment, where are you to find a job without having the internet. With the use of the internet, this has become an easier task. There are endless amount of websites on the internet that feature in this category. Job search is easier now, all thanks to internet.

A long time ago, one would have never predicted the size and impact the Internet has made on our planet. Now, with every kind of service including government, healthcare, commerce and financial services brokered through connected devices, the stakes are much higher. Forces like cyber terrorism, government corruption and lack of infrastructure resources threaten the fragile digital ties that connect our world. We so often take the internet for granted, when slow website load times lead us to abandon a specific website or maybe even walk away just to return to the Internet as we know it later that day. We are just left to wonder: What impact does global connectivity really have on our daily lives and the economy as a whole? What could happen if we’re left in the metaphorical darkness of not having the internet with us.

Although we don’t know exactly what would happen if global connectivity or should I say, “The Internet” were to shut down we do know it is being heavily threatened. Both physical and cyber-warfare threatens global connectivity in specific ways. Physical degradation of undersea and land-based cables can prevent regions from getting Internet service. Government-ordered shutdowns, as we saw in Iraq during the summer of 2014, are another common occurrence in areas threatened by violence and terrorism. In some cases, social media services like Twitter and Facebook are being temporarily shuttered during times of unrest. Similarly, anonymous distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and cyber security breaches happen on a near-hourly basis, occasionally on a massive scale.

Life without the internet, how would that really be? It would be exactly as it was before the World Wide Web was so popular. You had to go to the library for any info. You had to look into white/yellow pages books for telephones. You had to ask for information, or order things by telephone. To communicate, fastest way was by telephone, which was expensive to talk by long distance. Or, if you could wait, you could write letters, and send physical photographs by normal mail, which would take weeks or more. If something was urgent and did not have a telephone, you had to send a telegram. Most everything else was done personally by going physically. And that’s it. The internet has accelerated our communications and the distribution of information. Information did exist, but it was a lot more harder to get it.

Above all we have to remember we got to where we are today without the Internet. The Internet was a technological advancement that excelled us into the 21st century and changed the way we socialized, did business and purchased goods. It paved the way to the future and still has many exciting advancements ahead of it’s self. Witnessing the loss of the Internet is probably very unlikely, but either way I’m quite sure as a human race we’d adapt and persevere as we have done for thousands of years. Those who grew up with the Internet well established around them simply can’t comprehend life without it. There are however many of us who lived life before it’s time and have experienced a life without the Internet.

Do you think you can live without the internet?

10 Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Stuck

Never assume that you’re stuck with the way things are.
Life changes, and so can you.

“I don’t know what to do.” “I’m in a rut.” “I feel stuck.” These are words Angel and I hear frequently from coaching clients and blog subscribers alike. We all struggle with this kind of mindset sometimes, and if you’re struggling right now, it’s time to push through. There’s plenty you can do.

The truth is, you have the power to move forward no matter what obstacles block your path. You have the power to live up to your highest vision of how your life can be. You have the power to follow through and make significant progress on your biggest goals. You have all this power because you have the CHOICE. In each moment you can choose what you think, what you do, and who you want to be.

If you’re being pulled in every direction by forces beyond your control, take time to realign yourself with what you value most in life.
You don’t have to continue doing things the way you’ve always done them. You don’t have to be held a prisoner by your old, familiar habits and assumptions.

Today is a new day, filled with new possibilities, so remember…

1. Feeling stuck is a FEELING, not a fact. – When we feel stuck, typically our first instinct is to look outside of ourselves for someone or something to blame. In reality, we ought to be looking at how we’re feeling, what we’re thinking, and how we plan to respond. Your life is your responsibility. While you can’t always change what’s outside of you, you can certainly change your perception of it. And the funny thing is, when you change the way you look at things, the things themselves change.

2. Yesterday’s bad news is not worth reliving. – You can’t have a better today if you’re still thinking and worrying about yesterday. Whatever could have been or should have been, doesn’t matter. Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you have one foot on the brakes when you’re thinking about the past. In order to free yourself, you must learn how to let go of whatever old news is keeping you stuck. Release your regrets. Discard yesterday’s frustrations. Refuse to entertain old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto these things is holding you back from a new beginning. What is it you want to let go of today? Do it!

3. Feeling stuck is a sign that it’s time to make a change. – It could be a change of heart, a change in your perspective, or a change in your habits. But the point in any case is that the way you are doing things is no longer working. Imagine yourself as a river, flowing into a great ocean. Oftentimes a river grows narrower and appears on the surface to lack movement just before it breaks through to the larger body of water. The same thing happens to us as we prepare for a breakthrough in life. Our flow must contract before it can expand. And the contraction is equally important to the expansion.

4. What you need to do won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the end. – If you’ve been asking the same questions for a long time, yet you’re still stuck, it’s probably not that you haven’t been given the answers, but that you don’t like the answers you were given. Remember, it takes a great deal of courage to admit that something needs to change, and a lot more courage still, to accept the responsibility for making the change happen. Growth and change may be painful sometimes, but nothing in life is as painful as staying stuck where you don’t belong.

5. An excuse is standing somewhere between you and the next step you need to take. – If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. This may be tough to accept, but it’s the truth. Stop making excuses for why you can’t get it done and start focusing on all the reasons why you must make it happen. The only person who can truly hold you back is you. So no more excuses – it’s time to change. It’s time to choose what’s best for YOU. Oftentimes when we feel stuck, we are waiting for something magical to happen. We wonder when the winds will change in our favor. We do this instead of embracing the present and admitting the change we need to make. What is keeping you from stepping forward? If not fear of failure, then what? Insecurity? Laziness? What is your excuse? We all have one. And when we focus on our excuses more than our steps forward, we walk in a circle and fall into the familiar pit we call “Stuck.”

6. Other people’s opinions can only stop you if you let them. – If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone else, you’ve already forgotten your value. Don’t do this to yourself. Care too much about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner. Your freedom lies not in the physical space around you, but in your mind. As long as you cling to other people’s definitions of your truth, your beauty, and your happiness, you will always be chained. Thoughts that begin with, “I have to…” or “I really should…” reveal where we feel most obligated to direct our energy. Redefine things for yourself. Write your own definitions. Finish your own sentences. Find your own way. And most importantly, listen to your intuition. It already knows what you truly need. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

7. Authenticity is liberating. – By allowing yourself to be yourself, you allow others to be themselves around you too. This creates an honest, liberating environment in which to live. In a society where people love to point fingers and poke fun, you can only fight social judgment with naked honesty. When you speak up about your challenges and open yourself up to receiving care and support, you allow others to do the same. The truth is, we’re all in this together, undergoing the same learning process and internal struggles. We’re all equally perfect in our imperfections. There’s no reason to hide behind lies.

8. Real growth happens from the inside out. – If the conditions are right, it’s easy to grow horizontally by acquiring more money, newer cars, bigger homes, etc. Vertical growth, on the other hand, is when you stay in the same place with the same things, but grow deeper and deeper into yourself. It’s when you can say, “Five years ago I would lose my temper in a few seconds, but now it takes all week.” This kind of growth is more rare, but it’s the only true growth there is. Sadly, many of us feel stuck, and we age much faster than we grow, because we focus exclusively on horizontal achievements. We spend so much of our lives going through the external motions of what society tells us ‘maturity’ is – getting married, buying houses, working our way up the corporate ladder, etc. – that we fail to concentrate on our own inner growth and goals. We never allocate enough time just for us.

9. Life is a journey, not a destination. – Detach from the results of your efforts. A lot of internal change comes about from letting go of ingrained social fears, superstitions, and doubts about what is “normal.” By letting go of what “should” happen or what “could” happen, you free up your life to various little surprises and joys. You may not lead the exact life you want, but you will lead a meaningful, miraculous existence, guaranteed. Life is sometimes difficult, but it’s not a chore. Make it an adventure. Make it fun. Make the choice to feel good about yourself, about your world, about your possibilities and the step you’re taking right now.

10. You’re way stronger and a lot less stuck than you think. – Take heart, and remember that the biggest breakthroughs often come after a long period of being stuck. Which is why feeling stuck for a while is necessary. Embrace this. When things seem to be at their worst is the ideal time for you to be at your best. If you can’t take a big step forward, take a little one. Tip-toe if you must. Just keep reminding yourself that you are strong enough to take the next tiniest step, and that this step is the only step that matters right now.

Your turn…
What would you add to the list?
What do you try to keep in mind to motivate yourself when you’re feeling stuck?

Are You Ready to Leave Your Comfort Zone?

So, what’s the secret to leaving your comfort zone? Here are four tips to help move you into a world of adventure and opportunity:

1. Find your “zone of courage.”

Your zone of courage lies just outside your comfort zone. If you’re not ready to take a big leap, take a baby step. You’ve got to start somewhere. The zone of courage contains much less predictability than your comfort zone, but it could also contain opportunities for personal and professional growth.

The thought of leaving home and family and entering a much smaller company in a field I had no experience in was almost terrifying. But I knew that the role would prepare me for much bigger roles in the future, and the timing was right in my life to make a change.

2. Avoid the “zone of terror.”

Beyond your zone of courage lies another zone: the zone of terror, which is overwhelming and a place you want to avoid. The key to success is finding that area outside your comfort zone and outside the terror zone. It’s the sweet spot that allows you to move forward at a pace that allows you to grow but doesn’t paralyze you with fear.

If I had thought any of the changes I made in my life were truly terrifying, I would have been frozen and they never would have happened.

3. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.

You can play it safe and always do the predictable thing, or you can push the envelope a bit and go for maximal growth. Moving out of your comfort zone is bound to make you feel a little exposed and that’s a crucial part of the process.

You’re going to feel afraid. But moving forward—even while knowing that failure is a possibility—helps you set new and higher bars for your goals and move into your zone of courage at the same time.

4. Take it one step at a time.

You might think that sounds less than ambitious, but trust me, moving out of your comfort zone doesn’t happen all at once. With every move you make, take time to evaluate where you are and plan where you want to go next. Then take your next step in your new direction.

That’s how you develop momentum and keep yourself moving on to greater opportunities, and further out of your comfort zone.

We often start the day surrounded by the familiar comforts of home and family. It’s our job as humans to walk out the front door, shake it up a bit and grow.

Ready to make your first move?

To your success!

Bobby Wan

We hire smart people so they can tell US what to do

There’s a remarkable quote from Steve Jobs that saysit doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

So, if you want to hire smart people, you shouldn’t tell them what to do.

In sales, for example, try to say in the job description that you look for someone that can increase profit by 30% in one year and let them tell you how.

cheers

75 Simple Pleasures to Brighten Your Day

A little trick I like to use to make my days much more pleasant is to find little, simple pleasures and sprinkle them throughout my day.

They’re not big things, but they each simple pleasure can translate to a great day if you use them right.

So in the morning, I might have a cup of coffee, and sip it slowly to enjoy it fully. I might read a gripping novel, and revel in the world of fiction. I might watch the sun come up, and marvel at the world in pastel hues.

For breakfast, I might put berries on my cereal … and I just love berries. I savor each one, closing my eyes. In the shower, I might also close my eyes, and just let the cool water run over me (I live on a tropical island, so cool water is a nice thing).

You get the idea — these are little things, and don’t really cost a thing (or not much, anyway), but they are tremendously satisfying. I’ve just described some of the things I might do to start off my day, but the possibilities are endless, and can be done throughout the day.

I thought it would be fun to compile a list of simple pleasures, to give you all some ideas of what I mean, and to spark other ideas of your own. Of course, you can probably come up with a thousand more, and it should also be noted that one person’s pleasures aren’t always pleasures for others.

  1. Berries … mmmm.
  2. Walking barefoot in grass.
  3. Listening to good music in the car.
  4. Taking a long, relaxing shower.
  5. Coffee.
  6. A good novel.
  7. Popcorn and an old movie on DVD.
  8. The smell of fresh-cut grass.
  9. Watching the sunrise.
  10. Walking on the beach.
  11. A gentle morning run.
  12. Yoga or stretching or meditation.
  13. Snuggling in bed with your partner.
  14. Watching the sunset.
  15. Hugging your child tightly.
  16. Good wine.
  17. Dark chocolate.
  18. Dancing like you’re crazy.
  19. Telling jokes till your sides ache.
  20. A long conversation with a good friend.
  21. Root beer float.
  22. Kissing in the rain.
  23. Being lazy on a Sunday.
  24. Waking to a clean house.
  25. An uncluttered room.
  26. Banana split.
  27. Pillow fights.
  28. Fries and a chocolate milkshake.
  29. Singing in the shower, loudly.
  30. Dancing in the rain and stomping in puddles.
  31. Watching your child play.
  32. Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
  33. Helping someone in need.
  34. Making someone smile.
  35. Homemade pie.
  36. A nature hike.
  37. Laying back and watching the stars.
  38. Making a sandcastle.
  39. Floating in the water.
  40. Taking an afternoon nap.
  41. Serving your spouse a surprise breakfast in bed.
  42. Watching your children on Christmas morning.
  43. Laying back and looking up at clouds.
  44. Watching the ocean.
  45. Getting a massage.
  46. Reese’s peanut butter cups.
  47. PB&J sandwich.
  48. Iced green tea.
  49. Playing footsie.
  50. Acting crazy in public.
  51. Seeing your savings account grow.
  52. Seeing your debt shrink.
  53. Taking a hot bath.
  54. Blowing bubbles.
  55. A gentle breeze.
  56. The feeling after a good workout.
  57. Checking something off your to-do list.
  58. Snuggling together under the covers on a stormy day.
  59. Coen brother movies.
  60. Watching your kids play soccer.
  61. Playing a good game of basketball.
  62. The smell of a new Moleskine notebook.
  63. Writing on good paper with a good pen.
  64. A clear desk.
  65. Fresh popped popcorn.
  66. A fresh snow.
  67. Swinging on a swing.
  68. Homemade strawberry shortcake.
  69. Watching animals in nature.
  70. An empty email inbox.
  71. Playing hooky.
  72. A very slow and sensual night with your partner.
  73. Staying up all night talking.
  74. Having a picnic.
  75. Swimming at night.
 Here’s to brighter day always! cheers

Spend time with family and loved ones

When was the last time you told your family and close personal friends that you loved them? Whatever your answer, do it today. Few years ago my father was admitted to the hospital, just days after his 80th birthday, for heart problems. He’s had heart by pass surgery in the past, and this time, just as in the past, he toughed it out. But any day could be his day, the day when it will be too late to tell him how much he’s meant to me over the years.

Don’t let that day come for your loved ones without telling them what they mean to you.

I know that for many of us, expressing those kinds of feelings isn’t easy. That’s true for me, but I’ve been trying to overcome those barriers. But even if that’s too difficult for you, I recommend that you just hang out with your family or treasured friends.
Talk to them. Listen to them. Understand them.

Just spending a little time with someone shows that you care, shows that they are important enough that you’ve chosen — out of all the things to do on your busy schedule — to find the time for them. And if you go beyond that, and truly connect with them, through good conversation, that says even more. Many times its our actions, not just our words, that really speak what our hearts feel.

Taking the time to connect with those you love will bring you true happiness. The more you do it, the happier you’ll be.

Since I’m a notorious list-maker, and because many people are busy and might need help with this, here are some tips:

  • Have five minutes? Send an email. It doesn’t take long to send an email to someone you care about, asking them how they are, wishing them a good day. And that little gesture could go a long way, especially if you follow it up over time with regular emails.
  • Have 10 minutes? Call them up. A phone call is an easy way to connect with someone. It’s conversation, without the need for travel. What an invention! 🙂

  • Have 30 minutes? You might not get the chance to do this every day, but at least once a week, take 30 minutes to drop in on someone you love (call first, so you don’t catch them in their underwear) and just visit. It’ll be some of the best 30 minutes you’ll spend this week.
  • Have a couple hours? Have a good lunch or go somewhere with a loved one. Who among us doesn’t have a couple of free hours each month? Weekends, or evenings, there’s got to be a time that you spend in front of the TV or mindlessly surfing the internet. Take a chunk of that time, and devote it to a friend or family.
  • Really focus on them. Don’t just spend time with someone but think about your work, or your blog, or the errands you have to run. Pay attention to that person. Listen. Really be there, in that moment, with that person. Because that’s a moment you’ll never get back, so spend it wisely.
  • Have a blast. Tell jokes, crack each other up, do something fun and spontaneous. Really have a great time!
 

How to Get Anything You Want ….

How to Get Anything You Want By Using 3 Mind Power Techniques

Have you ever said, “I’ll believe it when I see it?” Isn’t that what we usually say when someone tells us something extraordinary? Do we need to see it for ourselves?

Well, guess what? It’s true. You DO only believe what you see, but it’s not only with your physical eyes. You believe only what you see with your inner eyes as well.

What are your inner eyes? It’s the eyes your mind—your imagination. It’s the visual part of your brain that is always creating images and stories that you come to believe whether good or bad. Whether positive or negative. Whether helpful or destructive.

Your beliefs create your reality, and your beliefs are the result of what you see.

Therefore, when you can see something with the eyes of your mind, you’ll believe it. When that happens power is released—your personal power.

Harnessing the Power of Your Mind. The Power of Positive Thinking. Your mind is a powerful tool.
As with any tool, how effective it is depends upon how it is used.

Learning to use the great and amazing power of your thoughts to manifest your life’s purpose and fulfill your goals is a primary reason that many people explore the subject of consciousness.

Napoleon Hill once stated that “goals are dreams with deadlines.” Manifesting your dreams and fulfilling your life’s purpose is an important reason to use the tools and techniques of meditation to harness the power of your mind and make it work for your benefit in your life.

The choice is yours. The time to activate the awesome power of your mind to live the life you have always envisioned is NOW. It is your life and your power to master.

Become the Powerful Person You Are to Get What You Most Want Out of Life

My advice would be to start thinking, really thinking, where it is you would like to be heading and take affirmative action to that end.

Start now! Remember, many people only realize the true value of time after it has gone…!

Download Now “How to Get Anything You Want Guide “ Using
3 Mind Power Techniques

Android Users: Click Here Now – Get Anything You Want!

To your success!

Review Your Goals Weekly

How often do you review your goals? Every year? If so, you may be ahead of most people. Even so, I recommend a more frequent review period that will seem like overkill for some people, but to me it’s the key to maintaining focus on your goals and actually making them a reality.The key habit to actualizing your goals: Review your goals at least once a week.

Let’s be honest: if you don’t think about your goals, you won’t make them happen. If you aren’t doing anything about your goals, they are just wishes. (If you haven’t set your goals yet, I highly recommend you do so.)

In order to actualize your goals, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Set your goals
  2. Set action tasks for each goal.
  3. Do the action tasks – one a day is ideal
  4. Motivate yourself to stay focused
  5. Review your goals often (weekly is ideal).

Here’s the process I recommend:

  1. Once a year (New Year is convenient, but really any time is good) you should review what you’ve done this year, and set your goals for the next 12 months. Yearly goals should be mini-goals of your life goals.
  2. At the beginning (or end) of each month, review your progress for the past month, and set your goals for the coming month. Set easily achievable goals — it’s better to set your sights low (at least at first) and achieve them than to set them too high and fail. Monthly goals should be mini-goals of your overall yearly goals.
  3. At a set time each week (Mondays work for me), review your progress for the last week, and set goals for the week. These goals should be mini-goals for your monthly goals. For each of these goals, list a few action steps. Then schedule the action steps throughout the week (one step per day is ideal).
  4. Each day, when planning your day, make your goal action step for that day be one of your Most Important Things for that day. Do it first thing in the morning. Once you complete it, you have done something awesome for that day — you’ve taken a small step towards making your dreams come true!

The key is to review these goals and set action steps each week. If you only do it once a year, or even once a month, you won’t remember them on a daily basis.

If you fall off your weekly review, just re-focus yourself and start again the next week. Don’t let small slip-ups stop you from achieving your goals!

To your success!

Bobby Wan

Savor the Little Things in Life

Do you eat while reading? If so, you might have noticed the phenomenon I’ve noticed: sometimes you can eat an entire meal without even really tasting the food. This applies to a lot of things in our lives: we can spend an hour with our family without really talking to them. We can go to a park or the beach, and not really notice the things around us.

Here’s a tip that seems so simple, and yet can be difficult to maintain in practice: stop, and notice what you are doing in this moment. Become more aware of the present, instead of always thinking about the past and the future.

This is hard to do throughout the course of a day, but being perfect isn’t the point. Stop and do it once in awhile, at different times of the day, and just notice the little things. And enjoy them.

Try these little exercises (they’re very easy, so don’t be scared by the word “exercise”):

  • When you eat your next meal, don’t read and don’t think about anything else except the food you’re eating. Really experience the smell of the food, the texture of the mixture of food in your mouth, the heat or coolness of it, the multiple flavors. This is best if you’re eating something you really enjoy (berries for me!).
  • The next time you’re with someone, whether it’s a loved one or a co-worker, stop what you’re doing, clear everything aside, and take a few minutes to really talk to them. Really listen to what they’re saying. Really appreciate this person, and try to understand them. Really be with that person, fully.
  • The next time you’re outside, stop, and look around. Appreciate the incredible beauty and simplicity and complexity of nature. Notice living things, from plants to birds to insects. Notice the elements – air and wind, water or rain, the earth, the sun or the moon or the stars. In fact, tonight, go outside and look up at the stars. The stars and the ocean always give me incredible perspective.
  • When you shower next, try not to think about anything else but the shower itself. Think about the feeling of the water beating on your skin. Really enjoy the sensation. Feel the suds slipping down your body.

You can probably think of other things, but these are just a few ideas. And if you really experience these things, they can be incredible. And life won’t pass you by as quickly as it normally does, which can be a good thing.

cheers

Bobby

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Your Work Week!

Even though our modern lives have an incredible number of time-saving devices, we seem to end up working more and more all the time. From time-saving devices in the home (microwave, the robot vacuum, and dishwasher, to name three), to time-saving devices at work (spreadsheets, email, Internet, etc.), we don’t seem to be able to take advantage of the time saved and claim it for ourselves.

Let’s claim that time and decide, from this day on, to work less.

Here’s how:

  1. Reduce your work hours. Give yourself a set amount of time to work each day and each week, and stick to it. You’ll find yourself becoming more productive during the time you actually work, because you have to get your stuff done faster. To help you stick with your new work hours, set appointments for 30 minutes after you’re supposed to get off work. So if you tell yourself you’re absolutely going to leave work at 5 p.m. (or even better, at 3 p.m.), set an appointment for 5:30 p.m. and stick to it. Make it a doctor’s appointment, or a barber or beauty shop, or an appointment with your spouse or kids or workout partner. Whatever you do, stick to it.Best tip yet: cut your work week down to 4 days (or even 3). You’ll find that you can do all you need to do within that time period.
  2. Work from home. More and more people are finding ways to work from home, to either do their current job by telecommuting or to find a new career that doesn’t require them to work at the office. Consider this for yourself — write up a proposal to your boss, telling her how this will make you more productive and save money for the company. Or think of other job options that are more flexible. This step alone won’t save you work hours, because you can end up working even more, but you have to combine it with step 1 above — limit your work hours in the home, and set very strict boundaries for yourself.
  3. Have set email or RSS times. Don’t allow yourself to be available to the world every minute of the day. Set times when you will check and respond to email, or read your feed reader, or check your voicemail, and stick to them. You really don’t need to be connected all the time — people were somehow able to survive without it before. Now take that time that you save from responding to email, and claim it by reducing your work hours as in step 1 above. Also, now that you’re not being interrupted all the time, focus more, as in step 4 below.
  4. Become focused. If you want to work less, then become better at getting tasks done. That means you need to stop multi-tasking and focus on doing the task before you. Shut off all distractions, reduce distracting clutter, and focus on the one task before you. Get into a state of “flow” and really pour yourself into your task. This will make you more productive, meaning you can get more done in the smaller amount of time you set for yourself, instead of constantly becoming distracted, interrupted, and switching from task to task.
  5. Set time boxes. Parkinson’s Law says that a task will expand to fill the time available for it. So only give yourself a limited amount of time to complete a task, and you’ll do it. It may seem paradoxical, but it works. Give yourself 30 minutes to complete something, or an hour. If the task is too large to complete in an hour, break it into smaller tasks, and time box those smaller tasks.
  6. Do only the big tasks with big returns. Of all the tasks on your to-do list, which is the most important? Not the one that will take the most time, or that you want to do least. The most important task is the one that will give you the biggest return, however you measure that in your job. In freelance writing, that’s the article that will pay the most for the least amount of time spent on it. In programming, that might be the program that will become a giant killer, that will get you a million downloads, that will make a name for you in the programming world. All the rest is just busy-work — focus only on the key tasks with the most value.
  7. Outsource the rest. If a task or project doesn’t give you a huge amount of value, you shouldn’t be doing it. Give it to someone who needs the work. Find the repetitive tasks, the ones that need to be done but that aren’t worth your time, and hire someone else to do it for less. If it’s something that doesn’t really need to be done, eliminate it. Be ruthless with your time — you don’t need to be spending a million hours working.
  8. Reduce your commitments. You probably have too much on your plate. If you edit your commitments, you can reduce your workload and the amount of time you need to work.
  9. Shut off the computer. The biggest distraction ever invented. I know, you need the computer to work. But if you set limits for how long you’re on the computer, and shut it off the rest of the time, you’ll find that you get everything you need done within those limits. Don’t allow yourself to be on the computer all the time, or you’ll never be done. There’s always something else to do, something interesting to read.
  10. Change jobs. Does your current job not give you the flexibility to implement these tips? Then start looking for a new job. There are a million of them out there. Look online. If you’ve got skills (and you may have more skills than you think if you give it some thought), you can market them and find a job that fits your needs. Be confident in your skills, and ask for enough pay that you don’t need to work 40 hours a week or more to make ends meet. If you work 60 hours now, and double your pay, you only need to work 30 hours. If you don’t have the skills you need now, start learning them while working your current job. Important: don’t quit your job until you have another lined up.

Bonus tip: Find ways to make passive income. This is income that you don’t need to do much to earn every week. Investments, a web site that is self-sustaining, a business that doesn’t require your active management … these are just a few ideas for passive income. This will require an initial investment of capital or time, but once it’s going, you’ll be making money without having to work.

Reclaim your time and suddenly you’ll have a whole bunch of extra time to work on your life goals, to relax and de-stress yourself, to spend time with family and friends, to read, to educate yourself, to work on a hobby, to exercise. It’ll be one of the most important things you do.

To your success:)

Top 20 Motivation Tips

 

This article is a list of tips and tricks that, if used in combination, are a nearly sure way to achieve your goals.

Achieving goals is not a matter of having “discipline”. It’s a matter of motivating yourself, and keeping your focus on your goal. Follow these tips, or any combination of them that works for you, and you should have the motivation and focus you need.

Here they are:

1. Chart Your Progress. Recently I posted about how I created a chart to track my progress with each of my goals. This chart is not just for information purposes, for me to look back and see how I’m doing. It’s to motivate me to keep up with my goals. If I’m diligent about checking my chart every day, and marking dots or “x”s, then I will want to make sure I fill it with dots. I will think to myself, “I better do this today if I want to mark a dot.” Well, that’s a small motivation, but it helps, trust me. Some people prefer to use gold stars. Others have a training log, which works just as well. Or try Joe’s Goals. However you do it, track your progress, and allow yourself a bit of pride each time you give yourself a good mark.

Now, you will have some bad marks on your chart. That’s OK. Don’t let a few bad marks stop you from continuing. Strive instead to get the good marks next time.

2. Hold Yourself Back. When I start with a new exercise program, or any new goal really, I am rarin’ to go. I am full of excitement, and my enthusiasm knows no boundaries. Nor does my sense of self-limitation. I think I can do anything. It’s not long before I learn that I do have limitations, and my enthusiasm begins to wane.

Well, a great motivator that I’ve learned is that when you have so much energy at the beginning of a program, and want to go all out — HOLD BACK. Don’t let yourself do everything you want to do. Only let yourself do 50-75 percent of what you want to do. And plan out a course of action where you slowly increase over time. For example, if I want to go running, I might think I can run 3 miles at first. But instead of letting myself do that, I start by only running a mile. When I’m doing that mile, I’ll be telling myself that I can do more! But I don’t let myself. After that workout, I’ll be looking forward to the next workout, when I’ll let myself do 1.5 miles. I keep that energy reined in, harness it, so that I can ride it even further.

3. Join an online (or off-line) group to help keep you focused and motivated. If you into running , join many of the running clubs, such as Just Run Lah.

Each time I joined a forum, it helped keep me on track. Not only did I meet a bunch of other people who were either going through what I was going through or who had already been through it, I would report my progress (and failures) as I went along. They were there for great advice, for moral support, to help keep me going when I wanted to stop.

4. Post a picture of your goal someplace visible — near your desk or on your refrigerator, for example. Visualizing your goal, exactly how you think it will be when you’ve achieved it, whether it’s financial goals like traveling to Rome or building a dream house, or physical goals like finishing a marathon or getting a flat stomach, is a great motivator and one of the best ways of actualizing your goals.

Find a magazine photo or a picture online and post it somewhere where you can see it not only daily, but hourly if possible. Put it as your desktop photo, or your home page. Use the power of your visual sense to keep you focused on your goal. Because that focus is what will keep you motivated over the long term — once you lose focus, you lose motivation, so having something to keep bringing your focus back to your goal will help keep that motivation.

5. Get a workout partner or goal buddy. Staying motivated on your own is tough. But if you find someone with similar goals (running, dieting, finances, etc.), see if they’d like to partner with you. Or partner with your spouse, sibling or best friend on whatever goals they’re trying to achieve. You don’t have to be going after the same goals — as long as you are both pushing and encouraging each other to succeed.

6. Just get started. There are some days when you don’t feel like heading out the door for a run, or figuring out your budget, or whatever it is you’re supposed to do that day for your goal. Well, instead of thinking about how hard it is, and how long it will take, tell yourself that you just have to start.

I have a rule (not an original one) that I just have to put on my running shoes and close the door behind me. After that, it all flows naturally. It’s when you’re sitting in your house, thinking about running and feeling tired, that it seems hard. Once you start, it is never as hard as you thought it would be. This tip works for me every time.

7. Make it a pleasure. One reason we might put off something that will help us achieve our goal, such as exercise for example, is because it seems like hard work. Well, this might be true, but the key is to find a way to make it fun or pleasurable. If your goal activity becomes a treat, you actually look forward to it. And that’s a good thing.

8. Give it time, be patient. I know, this is easier said than done. But the problem with many of us is that we expect quick results. When you think about your goals, think long term. If you want to lose weight, you may see some quick initial losses, but it will take a long time to lose the rest. If you want to run a marathon, you won’t be able to do it overnight. If you don’t see the results you want soon, don’t give up … give it time. In the meantime, be happy with your progress so far, and with your ability to stick with your goals. The results will come if you give it time.

9. Break it into smaller, mini goals. Sometimes large or longer-term goals can be overwhelming. After a couple weeks, we may lose motivation, because we still have several months or a year or more left to accomplish the goal. It’s hard to maintain motivation for a single goal for such a long time. Solution: have smaller goals along the way.

10. Reward yourself. Often. And not just for longer-term goals, either. Above, I talked about breaking larger goals into smaller, mini goals. Well, each of those mini goals should have a reward attached to it. Make a list of your goals, with mini goals, and next to each, write down an appropriate reward. By appropriate, I mean 1) it’s proportionate to the size of the goal (don’t reward going on a 1-mile run with a luxury cruise in the Bahamas); and 2) it doesn’t ruin your goal — if you are trying to lose weight, don’t reward a day of healthy eating with a dessert binge. It’s self-defeating.

11. Find inspiration, on a daily basis. Inspiration is one of the best motivators, and it can be found everywhere. Every day, seek inspiration, and it will help sustain motivation over the long term. Sources of inspiration can include: blogs, online success stories, forums, friends and family, magazines, books, quotes, music, photos, people you meet.

12. Get a coach or take a class. These will motivate you to at least show up, and to take action. It can be applied to any goal. This might be one of the more expensive ways of motivating yourself, but it works. And if you do some research, you might find some cheap classes in your area, or you might know a friend who will provide coaching or counseling for free.

13. Have powerful reasons. Write them down. Know your reasons. Give them some thought … and write them down. If you have loved ones, and you are doing it for them, that is more powerful than just doing it for self-interest. Doing it for yourself is good too, but you should do it for something that you REALLY REALLY want to happen, for really good reasons.

14. Become aware of your urges to quit, and be prepared for them. We all have urges to stop, but they are mostly unconscious. One of the most powerful things you can do is to start being more conscious of those urges. A good exercise is to go through the day with a little piece of paper and put a tally mark for each time you get an urge. It simply makes you aware of the urges. Then have a plan for when those urges hit, and plan for it beforehand, and write down your plan, because once those urges hit, you will not feel like coming up with a plan.

15. Make it a rule never to skip two days in a row. This rule takes into account our natural tendency to miss days now and then. We are not perfect. So, you missed one day … now the second day is upon you and you are feeling lazy … tell yourself NO! You will not miss two days in a row! Zen Habits says so! And just get started. You’ll thank yourself later.

16. Visualize your goal clearly, on a daily basis, for at least 5-10 minutes. Visualize your successful outcome in great detail. Close your eyes, and think about exactly how your successful outcome will look, will feel, will smell and taste and sound like. Where are you when you become successful? How do you look? What are you wearing? Form as clear a mental picture as possible. Now here’s the next key: do it every day. For at least a few minutes each day. This is the only way to keep that motivation going over a long period of time.

17. Keep a daily journal of your goal. If you are consistent about keeping a journal, it can be a great motivator. A journal should have not only what you did for the day, but your thoughts about how it went, how you felt, what mistakes you made, what you could do to improve. To be consistent about keeping a journal, do it right after you do your goal task each day. Make keeping a journal a sensory pleasure.

18. Create a friendly, mutually-supportive competition. We are all competitive in nature, at least a little. Some more than others. Take advantage of this part of our human nature by using it to fuel your goals. If you have a workout partner or goal buddy, you’ve got all you need for a friendly competition. See who can log more miles, or save more dollars, each week or month. See who can do more pushups or pullups. See who can lose the most weight or have the best abs or lose the most inches on their waist. Make sure the goals are weighted so that the competition is fairly equal. And mutually support each other in your goals.

19. Make a big public commitment. Be fully committed. This will do the trick every time. Create a blog and announce to the world that you are going to achieve a certain goal by a certain date. Commit yourself to the hilt.

20. Always think positive. Monitor your thoughts. Be aware of your self-talk. We all talk to ourselves, a lot, but we are not always aware of these thoughts. Start listening. If you hear negative thoughts, stop them, push them out, and replace them with positive thoughts. Positive thinking can be amazingly powerful.

To your success,
Bobby

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck – Tips that work!

For a few years, I went through tough financial times. I was getting further and further into debt, not paying some of my bills (which then went to collectors) and always behind, even on payday. It took me awhile to step back and realize that this situation was all of my own making, due to my own choices and financial habits, and that it was possible to change.

Young woman shows her empty wallet. Bankruptcy concept

Today, things have gotten better, although I’m not out of the red yet. I have begun saving, I’ve paid off several small debts and am well on my way to paying off my credit card (which I’ve canceled), and hope to pay off my car by the end of the year. I plan to be debt free in a little over a year, with good prospects after that. I’m also planning for retirement, a little travel, and a simple house. My finances are much better off today than they were just a year and a half ago.

Kiplinger magazine just posted a good article entitled, “Stop Living From Paycheck to Paycheck” and I’d like to share my thoughts on the subject as well. Some of my advice will be similar to Kiplinger, but mine is more practical, I think. I’ve been there, and I am living this advice.

First things first

Kiplingers recommends starting by tracking all of your spending on a daily basis, which is a typical recommendation from financial advisors and blogs, and is good advice. But mine is attempting to be practical — I’ve been there, in the trenches, and I know that keeping track of daily spending can be difficult. I advise you to do it, but if you don’t, for whatever reason, don’t let that stop you from fixing your finances.

My recommendation is that, whether or not you track your spending (and you should), at least do the following:

  1. Stop the bleeding. Stop using your credit and debit cards immediately. Cut them up, or put them in the freezer in a ziploc bag filled with water, effectively freezing your cards. Also stop taking other loans, either from banks or finance companies or friends or family. Stop getting into more debt.
  2. Start saving now! The next most important step you can take, in the beginning, is to start a small savings account if you haven’t already. Begin depositing into it regularly, at least $100 per paycheck but more if you can. If you can’t find $100 then see the next step for how. Make it an automatic deposit, the first bill you pay each payday, because it is the most important! A savings account will help you smooth out your finances — when an emergency comes up, like your car breaking down or someone having to go to the hospital, you won’t be thrown back into debtedness or brokedness. You will have some cash to pay for that emergency, and you can use your regular paycheck for regular expenses.
  3. Look at discretionary spending. If you can’t find $100-200 to save per paycheck, then you need to cut some things from your spending. This is where tracking your spending comes in handy, but even if you don’t, you know some of the extras you spend on — cigarettes, coffee, snacks, candy, desserts, eating out, magazines, shopping for clothes or gadgets or toys or shoes, books, going out … these are just a few of the examples. I’m not saying you need to cut everything out, but if you can cut a few of them, or maybe just one at a time, that can add up. Then, take the money you didn’t spend on those discretionary items, and put that amount into savings each payday. Increase this over time.
  4. Start a debt snowball to begin getting out of debt. If you haven’t read about debt snowballs, they’re simple. List out your debts and arrange them in order from smallest balance at the top to largest at the bottom. Then focus on the debt at the top, putting as much as you can into it, even if it’s just $40-50 extra (more would be better). When that amount is paid off, celebrate! Then take the total amount you were paying (say $70 minimum payment plus the $50 extra for a total of $120) and add that to the minimum payment of the next largest debt. Continue this process, with your extra amount snowballing as you go along, until you pay off all your debts. This could take several years, but it’s a very rewarding process, and very necessary.

Now that you’re out of the ER
Those are the first, emergency steps to take. While you’re doing those steps, start on these:

  1. Make a budget. I know, it’s a dreaded word for most of us. But it’s not that hard, and if you set it up right, it’s fairly simple. I recommend using a simple spreadsheet. List all your regular expenses (rent, car, utilities, internet, etc.) and their amounts, and then your variable expenses (groceries, gas, eating out, etc.), and then your irregular expenses (things like car maintenance or medical that might not come up every month, but break them into estimated monthly expenses — if you spend $600 a year on car maintenance, budget a $50 monthly expense). Now match that up against your income. The expenses should be less.
  2. Automate your bills. As much as possible, try to get your bills to be paid through automatic deduction. For those that can’t, use your bank’s online check system to make regular automatic payments. This way, all of your regular expenses in your budget are taken care of. Make sure that your savings is done the same way – automatic deduction.
  3. Save for your irregular expenses. Some call it a Freedom Account, but the key to ensuring that you have smooth finances and that you stick to your budget is to take into account all your irregular expenses, such as insurance, car maintenance or repairs, gifts (think Christmas!), medical and other such things. List them out, estimate your annual spending, and begin saving for them each month. Again, if you spend $600 on car repairs, budget $50 a month for that expense, and put that amount in savings. You could set up different accounts for each expense in an online bank such as ING or Emigrant, or put it all in one account and use Money or Quicken or a spreadsheet to keep track of each. Then, and here’s the key, when these expenses come up, use that money for those expenses! That way, you can use your regular budget for the stuff it’s meant for, not for these “unexpected” expenses.
  4. Use the envelope system for your variable expenses such as food and gas. This is optional, but it’s a good tip. I’ve been using it myself, and it works like a charm. Let’s say you set aside three amounts in your budget each payday — one for gas, one for groceries, one for eating out. Withdraw those amounts on payday, and put them in three separate envelopes. That way, you can easily track how much you have left for each of these expenses, and when you run out of money, you know it immediately. You don’t overspend in these categories. If you regularly run out too fast, you may need to rethink your budget.
  5. Start thinking about your goals, and planning for them. When do you want to retire? How often do you want to travel? When do you want to buy that dream house? Do you want to save for your kids’ college education? Think about what you want in life, and start planning to save for them, especially once you’ve done all the above.

Once you’ve gotten beyond these steps, you should be past the paycheck-to-paycheck syndrome. Now there’s a whole world of personal finance options available to you, including investing your money for your goals. But getting past these first stages is important.

To your success

cheers:) Bobby