Fitness for Everyone: Yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice dating back many thousands of years, and originating in northern India. The practice of yoga gives its participants physical, mental, and spiritual benefits, and it aims to bring harmony between the mind and the body while encouraging healthy living in the process. Better yet, yoga is a great form of exercise for people at any fitness level. Professional athletes, couch potatoes, kids, and grandmas alike can enjoy the yoga poses with modifications as needed.

Yoga “helps to open joints and strengthen core muscles” according to Tania Tipene, personal trainer, and owner of Nurture Wellness Now, in an article for the Aiken, South Carolina Standard. Indeed, greater flexibility and expanded energy, as well as protecting the body from injury and helping with weight loss are some of yoga’s best benefits.

Another great perk of practicing yoga is that it helps with anxiety and relaxation. Doing yoga poses often helps people deal with stress and unwind mentally, and the relaxation techniques can also help with chronic pain. Patients troubled with arthritis, severe headaches, lower back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome say that yoga practice lessens pain, lowers blood pressure, and allows them to sleep.    Finally, learning to breathe properly is a great benefit of yoga as well. While going through the yoga poses, practitioners learn to listen to their breath as they hold each of the postures. This has the unintended benefit of drawing away all the things running around in their brain at any given time and provides peace.

Beginner Yoga

Finding a beginner’s yoga class is relatively easy. Chances are, your local community recreation center offers them. It’s easy to get started with yoga because the only equipment you typically need is a yoga mat or thick towel. For those with knee problems, chair yoga is a better bet until fitness level improves. Either way, yoga instructors are happy to work with people to show them how to modify poses for their current fitness level. It is important to work with an experienced yoga practitioner initially so that you learn the proper techniques.

Static beginner yoga poses build balance and strength and are held for lengthening periods as fitness improves. These include the Downward Dog, Warrior Pose, Bridge Pose, Tree Pose, and Cobra.

Advanced Yoga Practices

Improved physical strength, balance, and ability lead many yoga aficionados to more advanced and demanding forms of yoga. This ranges from simply tackling more advanced yoga poses, like the firefly pose and lotus pose to adding more equipment, like weights, or silks to practice aerial yoga.  Bikram yoga, also called hot yoga, is a lengthy and vigorous exercise done in a studio heated to 105 degrees. Ashtanga yoga is a series of physically challenging poses great for athletic people who enjoy structure and quiet. Vinyasa yoga is a constantly moving form, often accompanied by music as one pose flows into the next. Yin yoga is perfect for relaxation, and its yogis focus on lengthening muscles, especially those in the hips and spine. By sustaining poses for extended periods, these poses help release stress while encouraging strength-building. Restorative yoga is similar but uses props that help to support the body comfortably while releasing tension.

Learning the basic yoga poses, and the proper yoga techniques is the most important thing about beginning any yoga practice. For that reason, we emphatically suggest taking a course from a certified and experienced yoga professional. They will work with beginners to ensure poses are correct and that injuries are reduced or eliminated.

Yoga is the perfect form of exercise; easy to get started, with immediate benefits, and challenging over the long-term. There are many forms of yoga for advanced practitioners, and most people see them as further challenges along their yoga journey.

How Spirituality Can Play Into Your Counseling

Your Sense of Self 

Spirituality is deeply personal, and connects you to a higher self. If you’re religious, that can often be a part of what invokes your sense of self – your understanding of your own self-image, and perspectives about who you are. If you have an internal sense of self, this means you tend to judge your actions based on an internal set of standards, whether this be your values or your understanding of who you are. If you have an external sense of self, you tend to judge actions based on an external force, like religion or external responsibilities. Both of these senses of self have a role in spirituality – it may be embedded into your internal set of standards, or be an external force that helps guide your actions.

In these cases, when spirituality is of value and importance to your personal actions – it makes sense to include an element of spirituality in your counseling sessions. This is why spiritual counseling can be a beneficial source to finding true peace and happiness within your life, as it connects what is important to you into the process.

What is Spiritual Counseling?

Spiritual counseling involves helping people through their spiritual growth. It is a very personal form of counseling, and differs for each individual. Spiritual counselors help individuals find the meaning of life, deal with pain, heal from grief, and also provide guidance in other personal topics.

Spiritual counselors often also represent specific religious beliefs, for example, taking a Christian or other religious perspective on personal issues. This makes spiritual counseling particularly effective for individuals with strong religious ties, or individuals hoping to create a stronger religious connection. In this way, as spiritual counseling helps individuals by taking into consideration their spiritual ties, it helps invoke growth and healing.

How Can Spiritual Counseling Help You?

If you’re considering spiritual counseling for you or a loved one, it’s important to note the various benefits that it offers. People don’t often know themselves as well as they think – having a third-party with experience and understanding in counseling can help you reach a sense of understanding that you may otherwise have been unable to find.

For example, when individuals self-evaluate, we tend to paint an inaccurate picture of ourselves. We may unrealistically positive views of ourselves, and use self-enhancement in an attempt to feel better about negative outcomes. Alternatively, we risk having unrealistically negative views about ourselves, and use self-effacement to explain why positive things don’t happen in our lives. Either way, these unrealistic views have negative consequences on your own personal journeys and search for happiness, and impede personal growth.

Spiritual counseling, and counseling in general, can offer a secondary perspective to situations that you may not have considered before, helping you grow and find enjoyment in your life. The following are ways that spiritual counseling can help you and your loved ones through difficult times.

  1. It forms a deeper, more personal connection with you and your spiritual source, allowing you to heal.
  2. It lets you achieve forgiveness, helping you move forward from your past.
  3. You’ll learn relaxation and meditation techniques to reduce your stress levels and achieve a sense of bliss.
  4. Helps you uncover and address underlying issues in your life, allowing you to grow as a person and grow in your spirituality.
  5. It helps you find new happiness and wholeness in your life.

Is Spiritual Counseling Right For You?

If healing, spirituality, and personal growth are important to you – it may be the case that spiritual counseling will help you achieve happiness in your life. If you’re confused about your feelings, but know that religion and relaxation are meaningful to you, spiritual counseling is a solution worth exploring.

Food Prepping: Think Simple, Safe, Sanitary

We eat every day to maintain health and wellness, to feed the mind and body so they perform as required and to satisfy to soul with various tastes, textures and smells. But before we eat, we must prepare ingredients, a task that requires care or we risk contracting a variety of illnesses.

Food preparation is a major responsibility in the chain of consumption; here are 10 ways to make it safer:

  • Know your food supplier and sources: Where does your food come from? If you shop a local grocer or the neighborhood farmer’s market, do you talk to the suppliers and ask them about their products? Can the suppliers trace the production chain for their goods, assuring the healthiest and safest food? If you shop a chain grocery store, research their buying practices and read labels. Find out where vegetables are grown, whether their seafood supply is sustainable and which meats have no antibiotics.
  • The state of your kitchen: Keep your knives clean and well-sharpened. Clean your sinks, dish drainage racks and dishwashers regularly with a two-to-one ratio mix of vinegar and baking soda (this mixture is safe for all dishwashers; the common use of bleach in a dishwasher is not recommended for those with a stainless-steel interior). Check your baking sheets, pots and pans for food buildup and clean by heating them with water and a mix of equal parts white vinegar and baking soda. After two to three minutes, remove the hot pans and simmering liquid from the stove, let it cool slightly and the buildup should come off easily.
  • Cross-contamination cessation: Have at least two cutting boards in the kitchen: one for meat, poultry and seafood and one for fruits and vegetables. Plastic cutting boards are easier to sanitize, but constant use results in more nicks and grooves in the boards, where bacteria hide. Wood is harder to clean, but resists those deep scratches better than plastic.
  • Wash up: Use hot, soapy water on your hands, utensils, cutting boards and counter surfaces, before and after food contact.
  • Take the chill out: Defrost meats, seafood and poultry correctly, using the refrigerator or a container of cold water, rather than leaving products on the kitchen counter. Counter top thawing leads to uneven thawing, which breeds bacteria.
  • Looks cooked, but check it: Use a food thermometer to check for doneness. Cooking time is not an indicator, nor are the pop-up devices often included in meat and poultry products.
  • Pack leftovers promptly: Put leftovers away within two hours of use. If a refrigerator or freezer is unavailable, use a portable cooler and ice packs.
  • Less prep is more: Complicated recipes and elaborate sauces with many ingredients are fine for a special occasion. But the more prep required, the more chances exist for contamination. Eat healthy foods, simply made and presented as often as possible.
  • Food storage for safety: Store meats, fish and seafood on the lowest shelf, so blood or juices do not drip on other foods. Do not use raw meat marinade as a dip or sauce for the cooked meat, unless you boiled first. Check your refrigerator and freezer temperatures with a thermometer; a refrigerator reading no higher than 41 degrees F. and a freezer reading of 0 degrees F. are safe.
  • A guide for outdoor grilling: Before you use the grill, clean the grates with a wire brush and the vinegar and baking soda solution used for the pots and pans, or a commercial grill cleaner. Spray the grates lightly with oil to prevent food from sticking. Do not use the same platter for both raw and cooked meats, unless you wash it.

5 Ways to Learn Which Inner Dialogues Most Influence Your Life.

How aware are you about what you’re thinking and saying to yourself? Every thought has a subtle power to shape your reality, so let’s tap into the source of things with these five easy self-awareness exercises.

1. Do a silent staycation.

One of the best ways to become more aware of your inner dialogue is by taking one of your days off to stay at home and be silent as long as possible. In order to maintain your silence, it requires you to avoid conversations with other people, so you’ll have no one else’s thoughts to distract you except your own. You can take this time to meditate, contemplate and journal.

2. Record yourself speaking your thoughts aloud.

Just say everything that pops into your head, like your stream of consciousness is playing out in a movie that you’re just watching. Then play it back after an hour to give yourself a fresh perspective on what you’re thinking. Taking a break from your thoughts and reflecting on them later gives you new eyes to see your life with.

3. Start a diary for daily introspection. Then play the “rewrite-your-life” game.

After a month, compare what you wrote today to what you wrote a month ago. You’ll start noticing patterns. Now take something you wrote more than once that was negative — it could be a complaint about your co-worker, reflecting on how exhausted you feel or feeling sad about not being able to afford that one thing you wish you had right now — and convert it into something positive. For example, you could write down one little thing you appreciate about your co-worker. If you’re feeling really bold, take it a step further and tell your co-worker tomorrow how you honestly appreciate that one thing they do. They’re likely to respond in such a positive way that it can totally help change the downward spiral that trapped you at work. Little by little, you can reprogram yourself to become more aware of what you’re thinking and take charge of your happiness.

4. Interview yourself.

It helps to record this conversation with yourself when you’re alone somewhere so that you can express yourself more fully. Ask yourself these questions and answer them aloud:

  • If I could change anything about myself, what would I change and why?
  • For one day, I have an unlimited amount of money, so what will I do with it?
  • What are three things I wish I knew how to do? Why can’t I learn one of them?
  • Describe one thing that you wish others could understand about you.

5. Sketch a mind map to discover those frequent thoughts you have that influence you the most.

A famous quote by Frank Outlaw describes how you should:

Watch your thoughts. They become words.

Watch your words. They become actions.

Watch your actions. They become habits…

You can see where this goes, and soon your habits shape your character and your destiny. Often, we can easily see what’s happening outside without understanding the thoughts we had in the first place that led up to this moment we’re experiencing right now. That’s why in this mind map, we’re going to work backwards to uncover those “source thoughts” and see which ones could use a change.

Start by writing down one good habit that you do almost every day. Maybe you always go to work on time. Write that down and circle it. Now make an actions circle where you list all the most-important things you have done to make sure that you can arrive at work on time daily. Draw an arrow from your actions circle to your good habit. Go back further now and write down some of the things you say to yourself and what others have said to you that motivated you to get to work punctually every day. Connect your words circle to your actions. Finally, draw your thoughts circle where you list the most impactful thoughts you had that started this chain of events. It could be the moment when you started worrying that you’ll never get another job as good as this one if they fire you for showing up late every day, for instance.

Now follow these steps, starting by writing down a bad habit and working backwards the same way we just described. When you finish this introspective chain, realize that you can change this habit easily once you change the way you were thinking that led to your bad habit.

Self awareness is a gift.

One of the greatest benefits of developing more awareness about your inner dialogue is that it gives you the freedom to change. Without self awareness, you can’t progress closer to your goals, so don’t waste time in regret. Start focusing on what you will become.

Stay tuned to our blog for more great inspiration to live your best life.

Five Ways You Can Start Believing in Yourself

Let’s face it. We all face those times in our lives when we struggle with self-confidence. Sometimes this may last for only a day or two. Other times, unfortunately, this struggle can last for much longer. If you find yourself struggling with your self-esteem, now is the time to believe in yourself. There are several ways you can do this.

Focus on Your Good Qualities

No matter how much people get down on themselves, everyone has good qualities. While you can just think about them in your head, listing them can help you better see your good qualities. Even if you start with something as simple as that you can whistle really well or that you are good at finding bargains at discount stores, list your good qualities. If you are struggling to recognize good qualities, enlist the help of your family and friends. You may want to make this an ongoing thing, where you add to your list as you think of more things.

Look at What You Have Achieved

Often, people get down on themselves based upon what they have not achieved. Instead of focusing on what you think you should have accomplished, focus on the things that you have achieved, particularly obstacles you have overcome. Make a list of all the difficult things you have achieved or overcome. This will be different for each person. If it was hard, and you overcame it, include it on your list.

For some people, graduating from college (or even high school) is a big accomplishment. For others, not panicking when they got stuck in rush hour traffic in Chicago would be one of their biggest accomplishments. Even talking to your cute coworker or going a month without drinking any carbonated beverages could be something to celebrate for some people. As you create this list, you will realize that you can do difficult things.

Achieve a Difficult Goal

Once you have realized that you can do difficult times, it is time to achieve a difficult goal, especially if it’s been a while since you did something hard. The key to this is that you need to set a goal that is achievable while also being challenging. If the goal is not a challenge, it likely will not make you feel better about yourself. If the goal is too difficult, you will get discouraged. Find that balance. The good news is that you can adjust your goal if you set one that is a little too easy.

Look for Those Who Bring Positivity

When you are around people a lot, their attitudes will rub off on you. Avoid spending time with people who are always negative, especially those who work to make you feel bad about yourself. It is especially important to avoid people who are emotionally abusive. These people thrive on making sure you feel inferior to them. As you surround yourself instead with people who radiate positivity, you will likely start to feel more positive yourself.

Avoid Comparing

At times, we all play the comparison game. It’s easy to feel bad about ourselves when we begin comparing ourselves to our family and friends. You feel like you aren’t as successful as your high school best friend because she has an amazing job. You feel like you aren’t as smart as your younger sister because she recently completed her Ph.D. from Harvard. You become convinced that you will never be as great of a mother as that lady at your church who has ten kids and finds time to volunteer in all their classrooms.

With the invention of social media, it has become even harder to avoid comparing yourself to others. Unfortunately, this comparison has had a negative effect on people’s self-esteems. While it is not always easy, when you begin comparing yourself to others, stop. Instead, focus on remembering your good qualities and all the great things you have achieved. To avoid comparing yourself to others, you may need to take a break from social media or at least limit your time on it.

These are just a few of the ways that you can believe in yourself and achieve a higher self-esteem. One of the biggest keys is to work to stay positive, even when positivity is difficult.

How to Gain the Motivation to Achieve All Your Goals

Summer fun is ending and people are beginning to think about the start of the school year. It is a common time of year to set new goals. Goal setting is the easy part though. Many goals are quickly abandoned once people realize what has to be put in to achieve them. It seems insurmountable to be able to achieve goals and overcome challenges. Stopping to think about the ways you optimize your chances of success in achieving your goals is essential.

  • Visualize your achievement. Oftentimes when we begin to think about our goals we are too quick to look at all the steps it will take to achieve them. It is important to keep in the forefront of your mind the reasons you have for your goal. Maybe you want to live a healthier lifestyle or reduce your stress. Think about all the benefits that will bring you. You will have a more carefree life with less pain. If you can not think of reasons why you want to achieve your goal you should reconsider.
  • Set realistic goals with time limits. When you are striving for self-improvement it is easy to feel overwhelmed. This is why you should set goals that you believe you can achieve. It is impossible to fix every habit or change every bad behavior that you have overnight. Adding a time limit to goals when possible is also a smart idea. It will give you a time frame so you will not procrastinate and you can accomplish your goals sooner.
  • Break up your goal into sub-goals. Many times people have a broad goal that they want to accomplish. Something like, I want to eat healthier. There is power in transforming the goal into small steps. For eating healthier that might include looking up information on healthy eating and healthy recipes, planning a shopping list and making a trip to the grocery store. When you break up your goal into sub-goals you will be able to see what you need to do to accomplish the goal but you will also gain a sense of accomplishment with each sub-goal you achieve.
  • Consider your obstacles ahead of time. Everything worth achieving in life is not easy. When you are just starting with your goal things might seem like smooth-sailing. However, inevitably you will run into a problem. It is important to think about what this issue would look like for you. Maybe you have a tendency to put things off or you are anxious about starting something new. Think about the ways you have been able to beat your obstacle before.
  • Document your progress. Feel free to consider your progress with each milestone that you pass. Let yourself share the good news with others, pamper yourself or reward yourself in any way you know how.
  • Decide when to start a new goal. Taking on multiple goals at once can be overwhelming. However, you will get to a point when you have accomplished your original goal. Once this happens you should consider if you want to achieve more in the same domain or start again somewhere new. Once you have progressed in an area it would be easy to add additional goals. Before you do that though, think about if it means more to you to progress with a different goal in a different area.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you plan to start conquering a goal. You will face challenges but you will be able to overcome them. Make sure to keep an eye on our blog to see frequent posts about goal setting and a variety of things you can add to you life to improve your well-being.

Self Image Matters: Getting a Flat Stomach Without Exercising

Most women want to look like a runway model, with a curvy body and flat stomach. Most men want to look like the Marlboro Man, with bulging arms and six-pack abs. How to get a flat stomach without exercise is the kind of workout everyone seeks. It bolsters their self-image, while attracting people to them. The good news is that belly fat can be eliminated with a few common sense moves, although a day in the gym is good for the health and the soul. So sit up straight, tuck in that tummy and read more about getting a flatter belly.

  1. Stand Erect. Experts say that standing with the back straight and the shoulders back takes five pounds off the middle. For those who don’t do this regularly, know that it takes 28 days to form a habit. Standing straight is a simple matter of doing Pilates, which strengthens the core muscles.
  2. Kick Stress to the Curb. Stress stimulates the release of cortisol in the brain, which is the fight-or-flight hormone. Once upon a time, cortisol kept early humans from being eaten by a bear. Today, it just triggers the storing of fat in the fat cells. Practicing mindfulness will help kick stress to the curb.
  3. Snack on Whole Grains and Probiotics. Whole grains stimulate the hormone insulin to use the fat stored in the belly. Probiotics are the “good” bacteria in the intestines that keep the belly from bloating. Yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics, while whole grain crackers, oatmeal and popcorn are good examples of whole grains. Cutting out sodas and juices also help fight bloating. Additionally, avoid salt and high-sodium foods, as these retain water, further accenting a bloated belly.
  4. Don’t Say “Yuck!” to Apple Cider Vinegar. Studies have shown that adding one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a suitable beverage (water works well) melts belly fat. The active ingredient that gives apple cider vinegar its bite has been shown to reduce weight, BMI, and visceral fat than control groups that used none.
  5. Wear more flattering clothing. How to get a flat stomach without exercise is as simple as noticing certain materials and the patterns thereon. They may help in camouflaging a belly problem. For instance, wearing spandex, Lycra and other stretchy materials just enhance the belly instead of hiding it. Opt for lighter materials like linen and cotton or a light wool. Wrap the waist in a wide leather belt. It’s soft material will give, and the ratio between bosom and hips will be the focus, instead of belly fat. Wearing certain patterns also helps to soften a belly problem, such as wearing a floral top with a solid color pant or skirt.
  6. Snooze Longer. Getting a good night’s restful sleep is key to controlling a belly problem. Studies have shown the direct relationship between lack of quality restful sleep, the hormone cortisol and weight gain. Sluggishly going through a day following lack of restful sleep stimulates cortisol. There is also a relationship between cortisol and abdominal fat. People tend to eat the wrong foods hoping for a burst of energy. The only burst there will be, though, is a burst of abdominal fat. A good night’s sleep will eliminate all that.

How to get a flat stomach without exercise is everyone’s dream. With a little common sense and the right clothing, foods and drinks, improving your self-image can be accomplished. Use natural products. Bioresonance will put infections out of business for good, and not using antibiotics, either. Frequency is the keyword here, and it will heal the body. I am the proof of that! Come to see me and we’ll get started.

Gratification: the Far-Reaching Benefits of Gratitude

We’ve all heard the old cliche about being grateful for the little things in life. But all too often we are overwhelmed with the Big Things. As we wrestle with the real, practical problems of daily life, gratitude may seem trivial and unimportant.

But the truth is that gratitude is an incredibly important experience, and incorporating it into our daily lives brings a host of practical, real-world benefits. Robert Emmons, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology at UC Davis who has devoted his life to studying the psychology of gratitude. His research shows that grateful people experience benefits in every aspect of their lives.

Physical benefits of gratitude include: • Stronger immune systems • Less bothered by aches and pains • Lower blood pressure • Exercise more and take better care of their health • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological benefits of gratitude include: • Higher levels of positive emotions • More alert, alive, and awake • More joy and pleasure • More optimism and happiness

Social benefits of gratitude include: • More helpful, generous, and compassionate • More forgiving • More outgoing • Feel less lonely and isolated

Emmons points out that practicing gratitude allows us to:

Celebrate the present. Gratitude focuses the thoughts on what we value, right now, in this moment. It doesn’t look to the past or the future, and doesn’t anticipate outcomes.

Block negative emotions. Sincere appreciation is incompatible with envy, regret, or resentment. Gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of depressive episodes. Gratitude celebrates the positives in life, magnifying their significance and detracting from negative feelings.

Boost self-esteem. Experiencing and expressing gratefulness to the people around us generates positive emotions that reflect back to us. Emmons says that once we recognize how much other people value us, it helps us value ourselves more highly. Gratitude also has been proven to improve self-esteem by reducing social comparisons. If we stop comparing ourselves to others, we are better able to focus on and appreciate what we have and what we have to offer.

With so much to gain, it’s time to start incorporating a practice of gratitude into your daily life. There are many simple and effective ways to become a more grateful person.

Start a gratitude journal. Every day, write down 5 things you are grateful for. Take time to really appreciate each of those things, whether it’s a cozy bed or a healthy body or a hot cup of coffee. Think about sharing this list with a friend or loved one, where each of you write 5 things every day. Sharing your gratitude journal not only reinforces the practice, but it may help inspire new ideas and ensure consistency. And sharing your gratitude with a loved one deepens relationships and intimacy.

Write a letter. Once a week, write a note, letter, card, or email to thank someone. It might be a coworker who supported you that week, or an old boss or teacher who opened doors for you. It might be a friend or family member who helped you out in a rough time, or maybe just gave you a special memory. It might be a service worker who went above and beyond to meet your needs (in that case, include their boss). If the person isn’t with you any more, write it anyway, for the personal exercise in gratitude. But if you can reach them, send it to them. That way your gratitude practice doesn’t just benefit you, but can enrich someone else’s life as well.

Live in the present. Recognize people with gratitude in the moment. Say thank you to the person who holds the elevator, bags your groceries, or delivers your packages. Being grateful in the moment helps incorporate thankfulness into every aspect of your life, and not limit it to certain times.

A daily practice of gratitude makes you a healthier, happier person with a richer life and deeper social connections. And sharing your gratitude spreads positivity to the people around you, brightening moments in their day and making the world a better place. It’s amazing how something so small can have such big implications.

Creating Financial Goals

In a perfect world, money would grow on trees and every financial obligation would be a breeze to overcome. Unfortunately for most, money is something that leaves our hands as quickly as it arrives, which can create stressful moments when unexpected situations arise. With trying financial times these days, how can we stretch our dollars to meet our needs and save for the future? My book, Trading Pain for Purpose, overviews successful strategies you can use to meet your financial goals as well in both short-term and long-term. It is incredibly easy to set yourself up for financial success if the proper planning and strategy is the baseline to your money transactions. By taking a look at these easy and structured steps, you can help save for your future financial goals.

Budget (if you haven’t already) – Before understanding what money you have to meet financial goals, you most importantly need to understand how much money you have to work with. Budget your paycheck and other income vs. rent, car payments and other non-negotiable bills. Determine where you can cut back (do you really need that extended sports package on cable?) and shop around for better offers (cell phone companies are always offering lower competitive rates).

Determine your goals – An obvious step, but what exactly are you aiming for financially? It can be one large goal like saving for a brand-new car, or it can be multiple objectives like paying off student debt while getting a new refrigerator. To start your financial planning, writing out all of your goals is the first step to meeting your needs.

Create a timeline- When do you expect to meet these goals? This doesn’t have to be a specific day, but break up your goals into short term (less than 6 months) vs. long term (1+ years) and be as realistic as possible. Prioritize the most important and time-sensitive goals that can affect you if not dealt with (mostly debt-related).

Establish an amount – How much do you need to meet these financial goals? Create a higher amount of savings for your short term goals, and a smaller amount for long-term if possible at the time.  If paying off debt, take note to pay off the principal amount and not just interest. Many banks offer monthly auto-transfers to other accounts, which can be easier to manage for some.

Re-work your budget – Does this plan make practical sense? Add in another column to your budget to include financial goals. If you see your savings as an obligation, your future self will be thankful! Ensure that all costs are covered and that some extra money is available for emergencies. That extra cash can be spent on unnecessary items, or could build your future.

Be sure to monitor and re-visit your financial plan from time to time, as life can throw curve balls and change financial needs. As goals are met, there will be room to create newer and bigger ones. These simple steps will create a basic plan for meeting financial goals, and will allow you to work your dreams into a wonderful reality.

The Proven Power of Visualization

Have you ever had an imaginary argument with a friend or colleague? Often a reflection of an actual event, our brain will replay a scenario where we say what we wish we could have said – or we visualize what we will say next time. I find sometimes these imaginary conversations can get me so worked up, and I forget how long I’ve been in the shower or how I managed to not lose a finger while chopping a vegetable. Our brains are much more powerful than we know! The fact that adrenaline can build so much over a non-existent event proves so.

What if we could take the same concept of thought process and direct it towards something healthy? The power of visualization is a proven factor in achieving any goal – in relationships, in work and in health.

My book, Trading Pain for Purpose, takes a good look at the link between the power of visualization and obtaining your goals. For an overview, we will go over some cold hard facts on the effectiveness of the power of visualization.

Mental studies have revealed that mental imagery stimulates brain processes, such as perception, muscle memory and motor control. In laymen’s terms, this means your brain reacts to thinking about a task, just as if you were actually doing it. This phenomenon pays off for many, such as:

Athletes: Michael Jordan always visualized goals before playing out the same movement thanks to muscle memory activation. Many athletic teams stress mental imagery before facing competition to “warm up” muscles and activate the brain.

Gaming Champions: The reason chess players take a long time per turn? Visualization of the next move. Their brains exhaust every possible move until finding the one that works.

Public Speakers: Visualization of delivering a speech or heading up a business meeting can actually boost confidence, while assisting with reciting at the same time.

The power of visualization is directly related to one’s success. A huge difference between currently successful people and those striving for it lies in how to dream; successful people live life based on where they want to be, not based on current poor circumstances. If your goal is to climb the corporate ladder, let the visualized confidence and affirmation become proactive today as a part-time receptionist.

So how do we proactively use visualization to achieve goals?

-Continuity: practice makes perfect. Spend a few minutes a day to visualize your goals and where you want to be, and keep holding onto that dream each day.

-Associate affirmations with your goal to establish a positive belief system. Reminding yourself that you are powerful and intelligent can help you get to where you want in your career faster.

-Lastly, recognize the steps needed to get to where you want to be. Remaining stagnant never helps anyone, you need to create movement.

For a better perspective on the proven power of visualization and achieving goals, take a look at my book titled Trading Pain for Purpose. Before you know it, the power of visualization will become prominent in your life and will direct you to a life of success – all starting with your mind.