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.

The Art of Creating Fitness Goals

“The greatest danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it” – Michelangelo

At several points in our lives, we run into obstacles that challenge us to revaluate different portions of our lives. This need for a plan can surface in our work lives, relationships, and in our journey to find balance in health and wellness. Many of us have visited this epiphany time and time again, where we realize our health has been slowly put on the back burner when other “more important” issues arise. So how does one create achievable, realistic fitness goals that will hold true in the long run? In my book Trading Pain for Purpose, I explore the full scope in taking charge of your goals including your health goals. For a taste of my book, we will look into creating practical fitness goals.

  1. Establish what you want: Yes, we all want to be amazingly fit with a next-to-nothing body fat percentage. But before trying to tackle a million goals at once, I find it extremely effective to tackle one task at a time. Are you looking to tone muscles? Are you training for a 5k marathon? Are your energy levels plummeting due to lack of movement? Finding out what you really want with your fitness plan creates foundation to your future goals.
  2. Challenge yourself, but be practical: I believe the biggest reason people quit their journey to fitness is due to unrealistic goals. Mostly, this is because your timeline does not match the goal in a realistic, healthy way – dropping 10lbs a week won’t happen for most. Unrealistic expectations can be birthed at the very beginning of creating fitness goals, where setting aside 2 hours a day at the gym seems practical at the time but impossible a few weeks later. Challenge yourself, but keep in mind what is practical and what is influenced by adrenaline.
  3. Keep track of the good and dirty: This is incredibly important in being transparent with yourself during your journey. If too many sweets near bedtime is the problem, keeping a food diary is imperative. For marathon training, a stopwatch is your best friend. I want to mention that keeping track does not exclude moments of weakness! If mess-ups aren’t tracked, it is hard to gage what needs to be worked on.
  4. Renew your vows along the way: Newsflash – at one point, you will find every excuse to quit.  In fact, you may very well drift back into bad eating habits or ignore the gym for a week. Instead of accepting defeat and sabotaging your fitness goals in their entirety, simply recommit. I have had bad days, like everyone, but the difference is in acknowledging the bad day and carrying on versus calling it quits completely.

These four steps will create a healthy foundation in your journey to wellness. I hope that you found this helpful.

Overcoming All Odds: Beating the Obstacles Blocking Achievement

Obstacles come in all shapes and sizes, and can surface in every aspect of life. All of us are fighting a different battle of some kind that is trying to keep us from achieving goals and gaining success. Some are smaller and fixable (communication breakdown with a colleague or a highway closure on the way to work), and some seem impossible to overcome (physical limitations from an accident or rejection from several job interviews). Fortunately, whenever we are struggling with our own demons, we can always look to others who have beat all odds to achievement as a shining example of hope. Sometimes looking at another’s struggles can shed perspective on our current situations, and reassure us that anything is possible.

One of my favorite examples of someone beating all odds is none other than Albert Einstein. Einstein was a globally recognized American scientist who wrote the most profound and complicated scientific theories known to man, and changed the face of science forevermore. Even though he passed away in 1955, Einstein’s theory of relativity is still one of the two pillars of modern physics.

The best part of Einstein’s story is not quite in his successes, but the hurdles he had to conquer to achieve goals. Ironically, family and school professors thought Albert was a stupid and effortless child. Not speaking until the age of 4, Albert’s parents thought he has mentally slow. In school, Albert did not often speak or make effort in his homework, forcing teachers to believe he was lazy and would amount to nothing.

Einstein’s hurdles in education did not end in childhood – he failed an entrance exam into a Swiss polytechnics school the first time around and was accepted only because of an “acceptable” understanding of math and science. After graduation, Einstein searched fervently for a teaching career and did not land a job for two whole years.

Remove self doubt – you CAN do it!

The most amazing testament of Albert Einstein’s story is that for over 20 years he was a misunderstood individual who was deemed as unintelligent, when in reality he was working through equations and theories in his mind since an early age. Einstein later judged the teaching system as it did not allow for creative thinking.

If Albert Einstein had quit and believed he was useless, we would not have Quantum Physics and the Theory of Relativity today. Einstein’s theories changed the world, and fortunately he was alive to experience the fruits of his success in his latter years. His story is a beacon of light for those of us currently facing trials in achieving goals.

I strongly believe that any complicated trial we face means success is just around the corner. For more inspiration of overcoming obstacles and achieving goals in your life, take a look at my book titled Trading Pain for Purpose.

Sleep Benefits for the Mind, Body and Spirit

Decades ago, people got more sleep and had fewer health problems. The sleep problem in America has been described as an epidemic by some experts, and it is hard to disagree. In 1900, the average adult slept about nine hours per day, this is mostly because light after dark was scarce and TV was nonexistent. Now fast forward, to when light and electricity are ubiquitous and we have over 1,000 channels with 24 hour-a-day programming. More than 70 percent of Americans are not meeting the average recommended 8 hours of sleep they need. The average American gets about seven hours of sleep per night, much less than the recommended eight hours, which can lead to all sorts of health and psychological problems. Let’s look at the effects on the mind, body and soul.


Sleep Deprivation Effects on the Mind

Lack of sleep and different sleep disorders can cause depression and make depression worse. According to a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were clinically diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours a night. Sleepiness also makes you forgetful and affects the ability to learn new things, and remember things you have already learned or saw.


Sleep Deprivation Effects on the Body

Chronic sleep loss can lead to many physical problems and diseases. Some of these are cosmetic, some are health related, and none of them are good:

  • Obesity/weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attacks
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Loose, saggy skin

In addition, at night, Melatonin hormones are produced. They are believed to fight off cancer. It may seem like some research is anecdotal, and there could be other factors that lead to higher cancer rates for people who get less sleep – but consider this: blind women get more sleep than women with sight, and blind women have HALF as many cases of breast cancer. That is pretty telling in itself, and should make you want to take steps to get exposed to less light at night, and to go to bed earlier.


Sleep Deprivation Effects on the Soul

Anyone who has went a few days on limited sleep (or even one night) can tell you they are not feeling 100% and are feeling run down. Now imagine that you are not getting enough sleep, every night, for months or years. You will not notice as big of a difference as you would, say notice with getting a lot less sleep one night. This difference would be almost in-perceivable, and this sluggishness may just become a “normal” for you. It can be really draining for the spirit and soul to be mentally and physically tired all the time, even if it is just a little bit.

So, take some time for yourself. If you are getting less than eight hours of sleep a night, go to bed an hour earlier every day for a week; you will feel better and be doing yourself a world of good, for your mind, body and soul.

To your health!


Are You Spending Your Time Wisely?

Time is one of the most valuable commodities you have. You can make more money, but you cannot make more time. Don’t waste the time you have on this earth. Your time is precious, your time is valuable.  We are not always going to be here. Today is a gift. Are you living it with purpose, passion and pursuing your goals? Or are you distracted, wasting time? Working at a job you do not like? The Scriptures say to redeem the time that we have.

Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-17:
Make the most of every opportunity. Don’t be vague and thoughtless, but live accurately and purposefully.

Time is flying by, it stops for no one. Before you know it months can pass and you can have made no progress whatsoever. It is important to set goals to reach by the end of the month, to reach by the end of the year, and goals to reach within the next five years. Don’t go another two or three years in the exact situation you are in now. When it comes to life, you do not get a do over. You cannot relive parts of your life. You do not get to relive your teens, twenties, thirties or forties.

Time is just like money. You are either investing it or you are wasting it. Be an ‘on purpose’ person. Do not just wait to see what happens in your life, make progress and steps toward your end goals. Don’t be a victim, be a victor. Do not allow yourself to be a victim of your circumstances, past missteps or accidental wastes of time, be a victor through God. We all go through valleys, but the valleys can lead you to higher ground if you continue to move up and move forward.

Here are some of the biggest time wasters:

  • Spending hours a day watching TV
  • Playing video games
  • Spending hours on Facebook
  • Talking on the phone for hours

God has given you a present: it is called today. What are you going to do with it? Scripture talks about living well spent lives. When you go to bed at night ask yourself if your day was time well spent. If not, think about how you will better spend time the next day and weeks. Stay focused, it is easy to get distracted with all of the different things we have in the world, it is up to you to make the decision to not let yourself be distracted. You look up at the clock and the day is gone, or the year is gone, or 10 years have gone by.

God put you here for a purpose. You are not just a person here on earth taking up space. You have seeds of greatness in you, you have the power to do great things and the power to make a difference in people’s lives – to be a to good things not only for yourself, but also to be a blessing to others. This is what I feel called to do. This is why I write reach out through blogs and on social media to help people. I hope I am making a difference in your life.

On a regular basis, reevaluate what you are doing. Get rid of distractions, prune things in your life that are a waste of time and move forward.

Do not let people waste your time, do not waste your valuable time trying to convince people to like you or to agree with you. When you realize your days are numbered, you move with a purpose. You don’t let people take your happiness. On a regular basis, reevaluate your friendships, if they are not healthy or a waste of time, prune them off. If people are critical of you, bring you down or are naysayers, prune them off. Are they building you up or are they tearing you down. Do not make a big announcement to the person that you will be spending less time with them, just call them less, return less of their calls and make a point to make new friends, better and more positive friends.

You may hesitant, thinking to yourself, “If I let them go I will be lonely”. You may be lonely for a little while, but remember, you never give up something for God, without him giving you something back greater in return. God will not only give you new friends, he will give you better time. If you have friends that help you become sharper and are positive, great! If not or you need more, find them at networking events – many great, positive and forward thinking people are at professional networking events!

Quit making excuses. Don’t waste any more days. Live with a purpose. Even if you move at a snail’s pace TOWARD your goals, you are still making more progress than if you were on a treadmill, going nowhere. Even crawling is making progress, but do not crawl – RUN! Run towards your goals and progress. Invest your time, redeem your time, and do not waste it.


Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you are feeling down right now, it may not be because you are unhappy with your life. Every year thousands of Americans (and people from around the world) suffer from the winter blues, because of lower levels of sunlight during the Fall and Winter months. This real condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder is also known as SAD. What a great name right? Overcast days greatly reduce the amount of light that hits your body and eyes. Lux is a measurement of illuminance according to international standards. A bright, sunny day will expose you to 50,000 lux  or more, while an overcast day can omit as low 1,000 to 2,000 Lux! The clouds and bad weather are not the only reason for lower levels of sunlight exposure, the days are much shorter, in some cases less than 9 hours a day of daylight is possible. All of this adds up to much lower levels of sunlight over extended periods of sunlight. Talk about depressing!

You may be asking “why is sunlight important?” Sunlight stimulates the retina’s cells, which in turn stimulates cells in the hypothalamus. This part of the brain controls your circadian rhythm which is your internal clock. The less stimulation that your hypothalamus gets the less likely you are to have a normal night’s sleep, either from difficulty falling asleep or tossing and turning throughout the night. Here are some of the most common symptoms of SAD:

  •     Irritability
  •     Tiredness or low energy
  •     Heavy feeling in limbs
  •     Sleeplessness, insomnia or oversleeping
  •     Appetite changes (craving for foods high in sugar)
  •     Weight gain

Natural Remedies
Now don’t run off to the doctor and ask for a magic pill to fix SAD which may cause even more problems. There are several natural remedies that I want to share with you that will work better than any pill can. The first thing you can do is get as much natural light as possible, especially from the hours of 6:30 Am to 8:30 AM. You can sit or walk outside or sit by a brightly lit window. It is best to do this daily or as close to daily as possible.

You could also eat more complex carbohydrates (natural) such as fruit, vegetables and healthy cereal, and limit eating extra simple sugar carbohydrates (unnatural) such as candy, soda or chocolate. You may crave them, but this is just a quick fix and will make you less able to overcome SAD in the long run, by throwing your body even further out of whack. The best thing to do is to eat healthy all the time, even when it seems like a quick fix will give you energy, you will end up paying for it in the long run.

It is also advisable to limit consumption of both caffeine and alcohol. You can have some but it is not good to make it a habit to have a few cups of coffee a day or a few alcoholic drinks in the evening to fall asleep. Your body will become more and more dependent on caffeine and alcohol may help you fall asleep but it really affects your sleep patterns in a very bad way.

Lastly, if you want to help eliminate SAD get outdoors during the day and exercise, whether it is walking, jogging or running any time spent outdoors will greatly help. Not only does getting your body moving help, but even over cast days will still expose you to more natural sunlight than you will get indoors. Natural sunlight has proven to be more effective than regular daylight especially in the morning. So get outdoors and soak up any sun you can.

I hope you found this information helpful.

To your health!


Importance of the Digestive Tract

You digestive tract makes up a huge percentage of you immune system. Just how much of your immune system is in your digestive tract? About 80%! The root of many of the different health problems we face are a result of having an imbalance in our intestinal bacteria. Probiotics are a great way to get more of the healthy bacteria back into your digestive tract, but there are several other things to be aware of when it comes to having healthy digestion.

What is SIBO? It is Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth and can be a contributing factor to Leaky Gut Syndrome. SIBO is the overgrowth of bacteria, and can even be the result of good bacteria overgrowth. Some of the most common symptoms of SIBO are:

  • Excess wind
  • Abdominal bloating and distension
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain

There are a few tests to determine if you have SIBO, including blood tests, breath tests (hydrogen breath test, bile acid breath test and D-xylose breath test.) As a last resort, having an Upper GI endoscopy is also an option. If any of these tests indicate a bacteria overgrowth, either pharmaceutical antibiotics or natural antibiotics may be prescribed, the latter being preferred, of course.

Leaky Gut
Seems like one of the last things you want is a leaky gut, and it really is not a good situation. What is leaky gut? It is when gaps develop between the cells that make up the thin membrane that lines your intestinal wall. These little gaps allow undigested or partially digested food to slip into your bloodstream. Sound bad? It is! Your body does not like having food particles floating around inside your blood. Here are some of the symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome:

  • Abdominal pain (chronic)
  • Insomnia
  • Bloating
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Anaphylactoid reactions
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Fevers of unknown origin
  • Gluten intolerance (celiac disease)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Heartburn
  • Malnutrition
  • Migraines
  • Muscle cramps
  • Multiple chemical sensitivities
  • Muscle pain
  • Mood swings
  • Poor exercise tolerance
  • Poor immunity
  • Poor memory
  • Recurrent bladder infections
  • Recurrent vaginal infections
  • Recurrent skin rashes
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Food allergies
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Brain fatigue
  • Abdominal spasms
  • Constant hunger pains
  • Depleted appetite
  • Sluggishness
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue

Surprisingly, leaking gut often goes unnoticed for years. It is always best to be preventative and to take things that are naturally occurring, that way you are not doing more harm than good. Aloe Vera is a good treatment for Leaky Gut syndrome. It is soothing for the intestinal tract, and can heal inner sores, inflammation and injury. Nature’s Sunshine makes great aloe Vera products of the highest quality, that are very reasonably priced. I highly recommend them to help with any leaky gut symptoms (above) that you are having. once you begin taking Aloe Vera, within a few weeks you will more than likely start feeling better.

I hope that you found this information helpful!


How to Stick to New Years Resolutions

Now that we are almost a couple of weeks into the new year, I thought it might be a good time to write a blog on New Year’s Resolutions because a couple of weeks into the year is when most people start to lose interest and motivation in doing their New Year’s Resolutions. This often happens because we tend to be lofty in our goals and bite off more than we can chew by either creating too many goals or creating goals that are a little too ambitious. Or we start strong for a few days then miss a couple or few days and give up on our resolutions altogether, which is a mistake just like the first others. Only eight percent of people actually achieve their resolutions! I wanted to write this blog to help everyone to see their goals become reality.

Modification May Be Needed – And That’s OK
Don’t be afraid to modify your resolutions if you need to modify them in order to make them obtainable. If you set a goal to work out at least one hour per day you may find that you have over committed. Also, when you have not exercised this strenuously in months you will find yourself very sore after a few days, maybe even unable to exercise at all. For this reason it is good to keep in mind that you can modify your goals if the ones that you set at first were a little too ambitious. It is not bad to be so ambitious, but you also have to be realistic. It is also important to realize that Rome was not built in a day, and neither was the Great Wall of China. So if you have to modify your resolution to exercise every other day or to eliminate 50% of your favorite junk food instead of all of it feel free to. Remember every step you take is a step closer to realizing your end goal. Take it one step at a time.

Be Consistent – But Also Be Reasonable
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to break a habit, whether good habit, bad habit, or neutral habit? That is because we are inherently creatures of habit. Our subconscious takes over for us so that we do things automatically. This makes it tough to break a bad habit such as overeating, or smoking, as examples. But the great thing is: you can also use habits for your GOOD! Exercising or eating healthily can become so ingrained in you, you just do in naturally. Vegetarians that I have spoken with are often surprised how after a few months they just automatically order foods without meat, without even thinking about it at all, because it has been ingrained in them.

Research shows that it takes just 21 days for any habit to be deeply formed. In order for a new habit to become engrained in someone, consistency is key! Be as consistent as possible. If your plan is to exercise every day for 20 or 30 minutes, certainly try to do that as much as possible but if you accidentally miss a few days just exercise again the next day. As I mentioned earlier many people give up if they miss doing something for a few days, but don’t do this! Even if you only exercise for four days out of the seven per week, after three weeks (21 days) your new and positive habit of working out consistently will be formed, and all additional daily or at least frequent exercise will enhance your new habit even further!

I hope this information is useful for you, feel free to come back any time to review.

Spiritual New Years Resolutions

Mental HealthAs the new year approaches, many of think about the year ahead and the new possibilities for the future. We also think about new resolutions that we will make as a way to improve our future. You have probably made a few to yourself over the years, such as only dating good men, perhaps getting in better shape or spending more wisely.

But what many of us seem to forget about is making new year’s resolutions that are spiritual. The spiritual side of things is really the most important. Are there any worldly resolutions that could lead to your eternal life? Before you answer that, I want you to know that I am not talking about making sure that you attend church every Wednesday and Sunday without missing a day. No, I am talking about resolutions that are on a deeper level.

The first thing you should do is wipe the slate clean of all of the other old resolutions, and you should stop beating yourself up for not achieving all of your goals from the year before or at any time in the past. If goals were super easy they would not be goals. Forgive yourself, Jesus died on the cross and God has forgiven you of all of your sins you will ever commit in your entire life. And I hardly think that not meeting any goal is a sin. So you need to forgive yourself for any failures or temporary setbacks before you do anything else.

Now that that is out of the way, the next thing that I want to share with you is something that I think we all should resolve to do more of: prayer. Have you ever heard the saying “You only get what you ask for?” I think it holds very true for prayer. The more that God knows the desires of your heart, the more that he can hear about them and the more that he can answer them. Some people do not pray that much because they do not want to ‘bother’ God. I assure you, you are not bothering God and he loves to hear from you! The more you ask for the more you get, as simple as that. Pray at least once per day, over time more and more blessings will come your way. If you miss a day don’t give up on praying more frequently, God won’t be mad at you and neither should you. The only thing that can come from praying is more and more good things, the sky is the limit and so is this new year with the power of prayer.

Lastly, vow to give more praise this year to God. If you still have air in your lungs and are alive, you have something to be thankful for. Live is beautiful and every day can bring at least a little joy. If you are still breathing, there is still a purpose for you here on earth.

This upcoming year is going to be a great year for us!

I hope you found this information helpful.