How to Have a Great Week.

If 85% of our happiness is based on relationships, shouldn’t we care for them more than we do? Shouldn’t we WORK on having great relationships instead of just hoping they’ll happen?

With that in mind, here’s how to have a great week (and make someone else’s week in the process).

Step 1 – Make a list of the five most important people to you.

Step 2 – Beside their names, write one thing you can do to let them know how much you care. Maybe it’s just a phone call, a letter or an invitation to lunch. It could be an extra hug or a surprise gourmet breakfast – it’s up to you.

Step 3 – Do what’s on the list this week.

Step 4 – Enjoy the extra connection with someone you love.

I just had someone I know take this to heart. He decided to send flowers to his mother on HIS birthday. She did all the work that day (and for the nine months prior), after all! He told me his mom was so happy she cried. One little gesture made a big impact. Good stuff, huh?

So, who’s going to be on your list?

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The Key to Work/Life Balance…

One thing that many people with families struggle with is work/life balance. When work pulls you away from your family, you can feel guilty. You may fear being seen as disloyal by your superiors if you spend too much time away from the office. Trying to balance both unsuccessfully can lead to a tremendous amount frustration. So, how do you do it?

It certainly does not come naturally for most people. Society doesn’t make it easy because most people around you are likely imbalanced. Sitcoms certainly don’t promote it. Music videos don’t focus on it. Reality shows don’t talk about it. It has to come from you.

So, what’s the best way to start the process of really balancing your life? Here’s what you must do in a nutshell: compartmentalize.

When you’re at work, work. When you’re at home, focus on you and your family. Too many times, we try to blend the two and it goes awry. Compartmentalizing is a learned skill but it can be mastered with practice. You can learn that at 5 o’clock, work stops and family time starts. You can learn to limit after-hours meetings. You can even learn to leave your computer and cell phone in the car when you get home. If you can’t conceive of doing this, it will take some strategy. You’ll likely need some help getting started. You’ll need to learn the art of delegation and you’ll have to begin letting some things go. Time management is a big part of it. Planning your day before it starts is also important. The only thing that all of us have in common is 24 hours. Those who do well balancing their lives manage their 24 hours well. You can, too.

This week, think about how you can better plan your day to accomplish your tasks in less time.   Here are a few points to consider:

1.  Make note of how many times a day you are distracted from your work and for how long (this can   be  eye-opening because most of us waste a lot of time each day talking, snacking, procrastinating).
2.  What tasks can you delegate to someone else?
3.  What things need to be done now and what can wait?
4.  What needs to be changed in your schedule so that you actually CAN leave at 5 p.m.?

These are just a few questions to answer to begin your journey toward success with work/life balance. The more answers you have, the closer you’ll be.

So, how can you start leaving at 5?

If You Want an Extraordinary Life…

If you want an extraordinary life, really want it…

If you want an extraordinary life, focus on it…

If you want an extraordinary life, craft it…

If you want an extraordinary life, take action on it every day…

If you want an extraordinary life, don’t be ordinary

In what ways can you begin now making your life extraordinary?

P.S.  One of the best ways to lead an extraordinary life is to help others live extraordinary lives

Musings on Our “Economic Downturn”…

As a meteorologist, I’m trained to recognize patterns. If a list of variables goes a certain way, a particular outcome is likely to occur. For instance, if a cold front is moving into an unstable atmosphere (high amounts of warmth and moisture), then rain and storms are likely to occur. Chances for rain will be high. If you add wind shear to the mix, the storm are likely to be severe with damaging winds and even tornadoes possible. All of our weather results from cause and effect relationships. This is what makes it predictable (for the most part).

Pattern recognition has always come naturally to me. Even though I’m not always right, I’m constantly analyzing and looking for patterns in everything from my family life to my own health to the health of this country. I don’t believe in pointing out problems or creating them when they’re really not there. I believe too many times we create our own self-fulfilling prophecies by focusing on the negative rather than highlighting the positive. With that said, here are a couple of recurring issues and patterns that I see facing our country right now…

1. There are a lot of lost souls in the stock market right now. The market is everywhere. One day it’s up 200 and the next down it’s down the same. I’ve always been fascinated by the markets and by business in general and I try to pay attention to what’s happening on both Wall Street and Main Street. These two factors alone will influence the health of our economy more than any other. The fact that the market is up and down every day means that traders, hedge fund managers, mutual funds managers, investment banks and individual investors have no idea what is going to happen next. The current overall trend of the stock market is for there to be no trend. That’s not good. There are many, many frustrated traders and investors right now who are just waiting to see what will happen next. There is much uncertainty not only in the stock market but in our economy as a whole. Everyone seems to just be anxiously looking for some sort of sign to act upon but it’s just not coming. So, aside from day traders trying to make a quick buck on the daily ups and downs, Wall Street basically just sits and waits…

2. There is more pain to come from the mortgage fallout. The losses from bad mortgages keep piling up in an unprecedented fashion. It was stupid for banks to make such risky loans and there were way too many Americans who took the bait and signed mortgages that they were almost certain to default on. There was a lack of regulation by the Fed, irresponsible lending by the banks and bad judgment by those who took out risky loans that all led to this mess. More banks will fail in the coming months. Most experts agree on that. Now, many homeowners don’t have access to easy money (through home equity loans) to buy all of the things that were artificially keeping our economy booming for those housing bubble years. This will keep consumer spending dropping which will, in turn, hurt more of the weaker and highly-leveraged retail companies (i.e. Steve and Barry’s, Linens ‘n Things and Sharper Image declaring bankruptcy). To compensate in the short-term, many people are turning back to credit cards. As expected, CNN did a story recently about the skyrocketing credit card debt. That’s where Americans are turning now to finance their lifestyles. That will lead to more bad news down the road when people can’t make their minimum payment and are so far deep in debt, they’re drowning. That’s coming – you watch. If you’re in this situation, figure out a way out, TODAY. Change your plan. Do a budget. Spend less than you make. If you have to, make DRASTIC changes in your lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to do it. Don’t keep waiting for things to get better; make them better by making changes yourself. Also, more and more local governments are feeling the pinch with reduced tax revenue as people quit spending. There are lots of stories in the news these days about state and local governments grappling with “unexpected” deficits.

3. Social Security, the national debt, the mortgage bailout, the cost of military action – all totaling TRILLIONS of dollars, will lead to so much debt that we may never be able to overcome it. Huge changes have to come about to fund all of these things with any amount of solvency but no one in Washington is willing to figure out a solution. We just keep adding string to a huge tangled financial mess hoping that it will somehow sort itself out. For instance, there are projections that the national debt will eventually decrease to reasonable levels 10 or 20 years from now. But these predictions hinge on our economy roaring back so that we can pay it down. Our economy probably will come roaring back, but how long is it before that happens and how big will the debt be then? It simply may be too much to overcome. Trillions of dollars of our debt are being bought by countries such as China and from many in the Middle East but they expect some return on investment. If there is ever a time that it becomes apparent that there is no coming return, who will buy then? If there’s no one to buy, then it’s BIG trouble (ask Bear Stearns about that). We have never faced that situation before but are we closer to that now than ever before? I feel pretty sure we are. Will it actually happen? Who knows. It’s worth watching though. It is certainly a new financial era we have entered with respect to the scale of money we owe. We can’t keep borrowing at these levels forever and continue thinking it’s going to be alright. One day, it may not be. Washington has to act to reduce the debt. You and I are already going to pay for the mortgage bailout. What else are we going to be on the hook for?

These are going to be just some of the issues facing our country for the next few months and years. One thing’s for sure, there has to be substantial change in the way we do things if it is going to be fixed. We know many of the problems, now it’s time to really work on the solutions. How do we put Americans back to work? How do we teach Americans to live within our means? How do we get Washington to know that we’re ready to move forward with progress and really fix what’s wrong? Finally, what should we do in our own households to make sure we’re not adding to the problem? We shouldn’t be scared but rather proactive in figuring out solutions. Some people are raising their hands and proclaiming they have possible solutions. That’s good. It’s a start. You might have seen T. Boone Pickens presenting his plan to fix the energy crisis. Whether you agree with him or not, we should all be more engaged in finding options and possible solutions to the problems facing our great country. A group of Silicon Valley renegades formed Tesla Motors to show Detroit and the rest of the big auto makers that electrical cars can be a viable alternative to current gasoline-powered cars. A new breed of architects is emerging that actually design smaller but more functional homes that Americans can actually afford and enjoy (not every new home needs to be 3000 square feet to meet our needs comfortably). We have the power to solve our problems. I think we’re ready. Ready to stop the nonsense. Ready to end the excess. Ready to make us lean and mean again. Washington needs to know we’re ready…

Here’s what’s great about America: Every time we’ve faced a crisis, it’s made us stronger. Every time we’ve faced a challenge, we’ve met it head on with our ingenuity, creativity and sense of responsibility. Even in the worst of times, we’ve always come out on top in the end. I’m sure we can do the same now. But, we can’t wait for this stuff to work itself out. We have to do it. We have to change it. If not, it will change us…

What do you think?

P.S. I found a good article that addresses some of these issues on Marketwatch.com.

Write it Down, Today!

There’s one thing that almost all high achievers do that the vast majority of Americans don’t.  This one thing can exponentially increase your chances of making your goals come true.  The ability to do this one thing, in and of itself, is literally a miracle…

If you have a burning desire to do something;  if you have a definable goal that you absolutely must achieve; if you want to be different from more than 90 percent of the Americans, then here’s what you need to do.  Go get a notepad.  Get a pencil.  Sit down.  Now, write down what you really want to do.  Write down that big dream I talked about in my last post.  Don’t delay – do it now.  Here’s why the act of writing down your goal is a miracle – it is in that moment that thought becomes tangible.  What was in your head now is physically written on a piece of paper for you (and anyone else) to see, hold and examine.  You have taken something from your mind and it is now manifetsted into physical being.  Some of you reading this will “get it” and realize the power in this.  Some of you won’t.  That’s o.k.   Whether your amazed by it or not, what you need to understand is that less than 10% of Americans write down goals but the vast majority of that 10% make their goals come true.  

One you’ve written it down, study it.  Absorb it.  Eat, sleep and breathe it.  Pray about it.  Make sure that it really for you.   Make sure it’s making your world and the world around you a better place.  Once you’re convinced it is, take massive action on it (Don’t forget this part.  Your goal won’t happen without action, no matter how many times you write it down).   If you get INC magazine, read the article about Joe Cirulli.  It’s the perfect example of what I’m talking about.  If you don’t get INC., he’s on the cover of the August 2008 issue.  In a few days, you’ll probably be able to read the story on the INC. website (it’s not there as of today – I checked).  His is just one more story that supports this.  He’s making a positive difference in his community.  He’s achieved his goals.  He’s living the life of his dreams (after being almost penniless).  And he started by writing down his goals.  Bam.  Another act that separtates those who do and those who just wish.  If you’re unhappy with your life, work on becoming a doer and not just a wisher…

So what are you about to write down on that piece of paper in front of you?

And…. ACTION!

Have you ever met someone that you admired for being successful?  I met a business person that I admire this week.  He’s the CEO of a well-run corporation.  I’ve read about him in business magazines.  I stood in line to meet him after I heard him speak and had a chance to talk with him for a few mintues.  In the conversation, I told him that I was impressed with his success and with all he’s accomplished – both in business and in charity.  He looked me in the eyes and said, ” Most people think that anyone who is in my position is in some way different from everyone else.  We’re not.  I have a fairly normal life outside this business.  I enjoy and don’t enjoy doing the same things as most people.  I’m not smarter than most people.  I’m certainly no genius.  The reason I’m where I am is a little a luck but most of all, I did what I thought it would take to get me here.  That’s all.”  

Bam.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was again affirmed to me – we’re all basically the same, rich or poor, successful or not, tall or short, old or young.  What most differentiate those at the top from those who at the bottom are simply our actions.  Some people take huge action on their goals and dreams because they believe they can do them.  Some don’t.  I just read somewhere a great quote that went something like this:  It takes the same amount of energy to dream small or big.  Why not dream big?  While dreaming big doesn’t involve more energy, it does involve a bigger risk of failure.  But don’t stop out of fear.  Use failure as lesson, not a barrier. 

Life isn’t always fair.  Sometimes we’re dealt a bad hand and have huge obstacles to overcome.  But if action is the number one thing separating us from where we truly want to be, then what action could you take each day to get you one step closer to your big dream?

For Thought Over the Weekend…

These are three quotes that can change the way you think about you life…

1. Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

2. If you will change, everything will change for you. – Jim Rohn

3. This is the day the Lord hath made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. -Psalm 118:24

Really ponder these over the next couple of days and see if your thinking has changed a little by Monday…

Have a good weekend!