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.

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.

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.

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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.
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Three Key Benefits of Meditation

If you have never meditated before you may be thinking “What is all the fuss about? You just sit there and do nothing right? I do that everyday when I am watching TV.”

But meditation is far more than sitting there quietly. If you have ever had trouble sleeping at night, you know that although you are laying there quietly your mind can sometimes be a whirlwind of  activity, and you are unable to stop the internal noise and dialog. THIS is what meditation is all about, controlling your mind. Meditation allows you to become a detached observer of your thoughts and helps you to slow down your thoughts. This helps you to find true peace and quiet in the mind – where you often have no quiet.

What Meditation Is Not
Many people think that meditation is a type of religious practice. While sometimes it is (such as with Buddhist monks), it isn’t always religious and is often completely separate from religion. I am a Christian, I meditate and many Christians meditate. It seems that the reason some think that meditation is a practice of religion is because of the fact that many people in the middle east and other parts of the world practice meditation – who are often of different religions. Don’t let this fool you and stop you from the many benefits of meditating.

Here are three benefits to meditating just a few minutes a day.

You will respond mindfully – instead of reacting mindlessly.
Have you ever flown off the handle, and wished you would have thought about what to say or do when something did not go as planned? I think we all have! Meditation will help prevent this in the future because meditation trains you how to put space between your thoughts, this means that you will be able to train yourself to put space between what happens and your reaction to it.

You will do less obsessive thinking.
By “exercising” your mind through meditation you become more of a master of your thoughts and your mind. This means that you will have less of the nights when you are laying in bed unable to stop thinking, because you have strenghtneded your mind. You will also be able to stop obsessing over things early in the day.

You will have more success in pursuing your dreams.
By doing mindful meditation you are able to observe your thoughts, which allows you to not only know yourself better, but also to shape your thoughts and eliminate undesirable thoughts over time. Sometimes we have thoughts within us but do not know it until we listen for those thoughts. Meditation also give you clarity which can help you define the next best steps for you life, and I do not know of anything better than that.

I hope you found this helpful! In the future I will do blogs on how to meditate, for beginners. I promise it is super easy, probabbly easier than you think!

To your health!
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Tips to Overcome Empty Nest Syndrome

When life changes and your last child leaves the house it can be quite a shock for the system, the life you had become so used to suddenly has changed. It’s amazing how it can hit you like a ton of bricks. All of the to-do lists, celebrations, get-togethers you helped arrange for your offspring, loads of laundry and many other tasks kept your energy focused and kept you busy. Now there seems to be a void in your life.

Does this situation sound familiar? Waving goodbye to your last child, and thinking that you have a big void in your life? It happens to many people! How you deal with it is up to you, so the question is: How can you put your life back together and learn to cope with the stress of empty nest syndrome? Ignoring the problem is certainly not the answer. Use these solutions below to get your life back on track.

Tip #1: You can either choose crisis or rebirth – choose the latter. This time in your life can either become a time of crisis in your life or a time of rebirth. If you have always wanted to accomplish something – anything – or several things – now you have more time than before to do it! Don’t squander it. Moving forward with your goals and dreams will help you feel better – no matter how small the steps are, they are progress. Plus keeping busy will keep you occupied. Think about it. Would you rather sit there and think about it or would you rather stay busy and have your mind off of it? I think most people would choose to stay busy.

Tip #2: Use this as an opportunity to grow yourself. If there are things that you have wanted to change about yourself now is an opportunity to do what you have wanted. If you have wanted to read more to learn more, now you can. If you have wanted to exercise to get in better shape, now you can. If you are married and have wanted to grow your your relationship, now you can. And if you are single and want to find a new romantic partner, now you can. The choice of what to do with this added time is up to you!

Tip #3: Don’t just sit at home alone all the time. You want to know how to be miserable with empty nest syndrome? Sitting at home alone all the time with nothing to do, but just remember it does not have to be this way. Hang out with old friends or  make new friends. Join a class to be around people. Paint, take walks. And most importantly stay in touch with your children even after they move out, just talking to them once or twice a week can help you immensely during this transition period.

Tip #4: Pray if you are spiritual. If you believe in God(s), pray to your God(s). There is a saying that a lot of people believe in – you only get what you ask for. Ask for help in this transition period any time you need it, it can only help.

Just remember, like all of the other difficult times in your life before, this too shall pass; and like with most most difficult circumstances that you face there are things that you can do that can help you during these rough times. I hope that these tips help you!

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Positive Self Talk

Have you ever heard of self-talk?  People think or talk to themselves all the time. Getting it right can make all the difference in your life. Talking positively to yourself can be life-changing. Some people get in the habit of always – or at least mostly – talking negatively to themselves or about themselves. But talking positively to yourself is just as easy! It’s O.K. to be your own personal cheerleader. Pat yourself on the back once in awhile; acknowledge your own unique and sparkling attributes! Positive self talk is the best pick-me-up around – it’s free plus it can be done anywhere, any time. Just remember, if you are doing self talk out-loud it may be better to do it in private.

If you take a minute to listen to your inner dialogue you might be surprised at how hard you are on yourself.

  • “Why did I say that?”
  • “That was dumb. I can’t do anything right.”
  • “I wish I was more attractive.”

You wouldn’t talk to your friends that way.  Don’t do it to yourself. Try this instead:

  • “I’m glad I spoke up.”
  • “At least I tried.  I’ll do better next time.”
  • “I like myself. I kept my cool, and I’m proud of the way I handled that situation.”

Adopt the habit of seeing the good things you do instead of focusing on the bad. Cultivating an upbeat, inner dialogue is a great mood elevator and can improve your self-esteem.  And when you feel better about yourself, you’ll be more willing to lift someone else.  Positive self talk is a small thing that can make a big difference in your life. Try it for a week or two and I know you will be surprised with the results and be a happier person in general.

You are awesome. You are unique. If you are still breathing, you have a purpose.

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You Are What You Think

Have you ever noticed that when you think you can do something you usually can?  For instance, if you feel confident you have the skills to succeed in a math class, you will. If, on the other hand, you start with a premonition of failure, you become your own worst enemy by letting the negative thoughts sabotage your efforts. Your brain is hardwired to think in a certain way, and the resulting mindset can have a big effect on the way you live your life. Thankfully there are ways to retrain your brain.

When you notice negative feelings clouding your thought process, stop yourself and refocus. Concentrate on thoughts that make you happy.  You are the master of your brain; don’t let it take you down a dark and unproductive path. Even if depression runs in your family, you have the capability of setting up neuronal roadblocks which can alter negative habits. And while you may not be able to erase a genetic disposition towards depression, you can greatly reduce its impact and re-occurrence.

Three Ways to Think Yourself Happy:

  • Count your blessings – Start an optimist’s journal and write down the good things that happen to you each day.
  • Practice envisioning positive outcomes to the challenges in your life – tell yourself good stories with happy endings.
  • Positive self talk –Pay attention to your inner dialogue. Take care to say positive uplifting things and treat yourself kindly.

It’s a scientific fact that optimists are more productive, have better social relationships, have statistically better health and lead longer lives. Your brain affects your mental attitude and this in turn affects your entire life. You are what you think, learn to think positive.

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Changing the Memory of Your DNA

Did you know that your seemingly irrational fears and phobias may actually be inherited from your ancestors?  Let’s say you’ve always been afraid of water. One day, while doing your family history, you discover that a grandparent nearly drowned at sea, and his or her closely-related family members at the time developed an intense water phobia.  This resulting deep seated fear may have been passed down to you through inherited DNA.  Thanks to recent research, we now know that’s possible.

One experiment conducted on mice, showed that the animals passed on the aversion to a certain smell. These mice were given electric shocks at the same time they were exposed to the odor of cherry blossoms.  When their offspring, who had no previous experience with this odor, were exposed to it, they showed a pronounced thorough irrational fear.

According to Dr Brian Dias, from the department of psychiatry at Emory University, this study proves that genetics are highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorders.  Our memories are stored as a frequency in our cells, so it is not only our learned responses that cause us to act in certain ways, but our cellular memory as well.

So how do we go about changing negative cellular memories?  Many scientists believe that making positive changes in our lives can turn off, or short circuit negative cell responses.  By creating new and positive neural pathways we can overcome some troublesome traits. Thus by adopting beneficial practices such a meditation, visualization and brain training it is possible to turn your brain to more productive thoughts, and change negative DNA memories.

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