Time Management Part 3: The Short List

It was a hot Saturday afternoon and I was feeling good. One by one I proudly checking off the long list of household to-do items on the whiteboard in the front hallway. With each checkmark, I would stand back and admire my excellent time management skills based on the progress I was making. Later that day when I came back into the house to check off yet another heroic accomplishment, I stopped in dismay. Someone had erased all of the finished tasks which had checkmarks, only leaving the unfinished ones. I suddenly only had evidence of what I had yet to do, with no proof of my accomplishment to-date

If you are like me, this is how it can feel at work most days. Somewhere between the flood of emails, instant message requests from the boss and meetings as far as the eye can see, we have “real” work to accomplish. There was a time when the multiple streams of work and distractions stressed me out as I watched my day slip by without any tangible progress against deliverables. Not anymore! The answer to time management problems at work is The Short List.

This is how it works. The minute you sit down at your desk each morning, make a list (preferably in red) of the three non-negotiable deliverables that need to get done before you leave work today.  By the way, these should not be softball tasks that would get accomplished anyway in the course of the day, these should be real deliverables. Then, every time you switch from one activity to the next (exit a meeting or finish an email, etc.), review The Short List and look for an opportunity to attack these deliverables. If you happen to miss a key deliverable on a given day, start the next day’s list with that item or eliminate it altogether if it is no longer a priority. Here is an example of what that might look like.

The Short List

  1. Plan the team offsite
  2. Finish/submit Q4 budget forecast
  3. Recognize John Doe for his outstanding contribution

This may not look like much but if you complete the shortlist each day, that is 15 completed deliverables per week. How many key deliverables are you accomplishing now with your current time management approach? We often say we need more hours in the day. The way to have more hours in the day is to have a better time management plan. It’s called The Short List!

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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Part 2: Love Your Commute
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Time Management Part 2: Love Your Commute

Daily Commute

Last week I worked out of the Jersey City, NJ office where you look directly across the Hudson River at mighty lower Manhattan. As I met various teammates that I do not normally see in person, I asked them about their daily commute to the office. Without exception, I was greeted with painful stories of riding the trains and subways for up to 90 minutes each way to and from work. Not one of my teammates had a positive spin on this required chore or a thoughtful time management approach on how to make this time work in their favor. Why is it that no one likes their work commute? I for one love my daily commute to and from work!

Commuting to and from the office is a necessary evil for most of us. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average travel time to work in the United States is 25.4 minutes. If you subtract 4 weeks for vacation, sick time and other missed work events, that is about 203 hours per year or the equivalent of 25 workdays! Imagine what you could accomplish with an entire extra month per year of time? Here is the answer to making that time work for you and how to turn your commute into something you love.

  1. Identify an area of personal growth that is a focus area for you to invest in. Make sure it is something you are passionate about even if it does not directly align with your day job at the moment. You will be amazed at how growing skills around an area of interest will spill over in positive ways into your current work environment.  In my case, that would be learning the skills and mindset necessary for living (and teaching) a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
  2. Identify 3-4 mentors in your field of interest. If you don’t know who that should be, start looking online at leaders in the field and consume some of their content to see if your interests align. From this group, find those who have weekly podcasts and subscribe. If they do not have a podcast, they may have e-books you can download. As you listen to a given mentor, they will lead you to others in the field that you can start to follow and be mentored by.
  3. Immerse yourself in the chosen topic each day to and from work. It will not be long before you start to see the payoff. Not only will you begin to grow in an area you are passionate about, but you will also start to look forward to your daily commute as a treat, and not a chore.

What was 30 minutes of dead time to and from work each day, is now one of my favorite activities. What are you passionate about? What new skills do you want to learn? With a little creative time management, you too will have an extra 203 hours a year to invest in yourself and a commute that you love. Let’s get started! 

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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Time Management Part 1: Morning Routines

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While listening to one of my mentor’s podcasts today, I heard the statement to be successful we need fewer cheerleaders in our lives and more coaches. A cheerleader (say your mom for example) is going to cheer you on no matter what the quality of your output is. A coach (or mentor) on the other hand, is going to give you the tough love feedback needed to get to the next level. Today’s time management discussion likely falls into the tough love category for the 50% or so of the population who do not consider themselves a morning person, because it deals with actively creating and managing morning routines. Let’s get started.

Having a set routine in the morning is a critical factor in setting up your day for success. Rolling out of bed late after hitting the snooze a couple of times, grabbing whatever happens to be around for breakfast (or skipping it altogether) and rushing out the door to work is not a plan for success. You need to create margin in your mornings to consciously establish the mindset that takes you in the direction you want to go in. Almost all of my inspirational ideas come in the morning while I am working out, taking a shower or eating breakfast. All of this happens before I walk out the door for work. Knowing this, I build time into my mornings so I can reflect and jot down key ideas that come to me while my brain is rested. Then, I can go back to my notes later and build on them.

Yes, we are all at different seasons of life with varying responsibilities each morning which may include getting others up and out of the house as well. That’s where getting up a little earlier might just create the space you need for your morning routines. With this in mind, here are some keys to make every morning a success.

  • Set a specific wakeup time five days a week (assuming the standard Monday-Friday work schedule). On the flip side, set what time you will go to bed to get 7-9 hours of sleep, depending on your specific rest requirements – no excuses! Getting the right amount of sleep is critical to your overall health. Do not use the snooze function on your alarm. When the alarm wakes you up, get up right them. Once you train your body clock, you will no longer require an alarm to wake up on time.
  • Establish morning routines that you repeat daily in the same order from the time you get up to the time you leave for work. This should include doing something you love that charges your batteries such as exercise, inspired reading, saying your prayers, walking the dog, etc. Schedule time for a healthy breakfast, whatever that looks like for you, and make sure you begin hydrating right away (preferably with water). This will help to increase your brain function in addition to the other benefits of proper hydration.   
  • Review your vision. Take some time write down big accomplishments you aspire to and start each day by reviewing them. These should be visionary aspirations for your life. How will you know when you get “there” if you never define your destination? Something we always ask ourselves at work which applies here is what does winning look like? Know where you are going.
  • Listen to a mentor during your commute. I will cover this in detail next week in Time Management Part 2: Loving Your Commute. In short, find someone you admire who is ahead of you in an area you aspire to, and then listen to their content daily.

It’s time to take advantage of the most important part of the day by introducing good time management routines into your morning schedule. As an aside, always have a notebook or journal handy to jot down the inspirations that come to you now that you are not rushing through your morning. When you get to work you may outpace others because of your pre-work routine. Take advantage of this edge and be a leader because you know where you are headed. You already settled your destination in your morning routines. You know what winning looks like!

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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3 Keys to Make Exercise A Lifestyle

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OK, here’s the warning! Always check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

I was very careful in the title to indicate exercise should be a lifestyle. Starting exercise regiments based on a new year’s resolution or even jumping into hours of training for a specific event often leads to spurts of great effort, followed by long sedentary off-seasons. The only way to truly increase your physical strength and flexibility as well as improving overall cardiovascular health is to make exercise a lifestyle.

Proper exercise has officially become a discipline that we now need to schedule into our daily lives. When we were primarily an agriculture-based society, exercise came naturally in the course of hard work on the farm. Now that more jobs are becoming serviced based, too many of us find ourselves lost in the dreaded cube farm staring at a computer screen 10 hours a day. If this describes your average day remember, your body was created to move and not sit at work all day followed by an evening on the couch watching TV. It’s time for you to make exercise a lifestyle!

If you are just starting out pick a level of exercise that is appropriate for you right now and that will also build a base for a more active tomorrow. For example, I have a friend who decided to lose weight and start exercising. So, all he did was remove bread from his diet and on day one walked around his block. On the next day, he walked around two blocks and the next three and so on. Before he knew it, he had lost 20 pounds simple by eliminating bread and starting a daily walking routine.

Keys to Get Moving

  1. Create a Workout Schedule. Pick the cadence for your weekly workout (every day, every other day, etc.). Whatever it is, schedule it like you would your meals. Lay out a realistic schedule that you can stick to and then be very protective of this time. Schedule your weekly workout plan on your calendar or map it out on your whiteboard, but have it charted somewhere so you can check off each workout and track your progress. Mapping out and tracking your workout schedule will dramatically increase your success rate! You can also build in a make-up day. For example, if your schedule calls for Monday through Friday workouts, keep Saturday open as your make-up day in case you are forced to miss one of your week-day workouts.
  2. Chose a Workout Place. For me, it’s my basement. Five days a week I am in the basement at 5:40 AM working out. I keep telling myself I am going to invest some time to upgrade the space to look like a proper gym but I am not waiting for that project to complete before I get moving. For you perhaps it is a gym, the track at your local school or simply the streets of your neighborhood. Wherever it is, make sure it is accessible to you when you need it. Also, if your preferred workout location is outside, have a go-to fallback in case of bad weather. Don’t allow the elements to dictate your exercise lifestyle.
  3. Have a Workout Plan. Decide in advance what your daily workout is going to be. I purchased a couple of 30-minute workout plans (one weight lifting and one cardio) that I alternate between every other day. They are my virtual coaches that guide me daily through my workout, pushing me beyond what I would do on my own. The plans also take me through a series of workouts day after day eliminating time wasted each morning trying to decide what workout to do. Whatever your approach is, make sure you have a sustainable plan before you get started.

What changes will you choose to make that will become building blocks for your future health and wellbeing? If you are not exercising today, start slow but never stop. Make exercise a lifestyle!

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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Dress for Business Success

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Business success rarely surprises those who achieve it, they show up every day expecting it!

If you work in a professional office setting you have likely been introduced to the “business casual” approach to modern day workplace dress. The concept of dressing for business success is quickly fading in many work settings. There appears to be no baseline for what appropriate workplace dress should look like anymore. What was once casual Fridays has now become the norm five days a week. While I am all in favor of loosening (or losing) the stiff necktie look, workplace dress is still an area where you can set yourself apart from the crowd in subtle ways with a little planning!

Another contributing factor to the change in dress culture is the fact that many employees now have the option to work from home part of the time, making it even harder to dress appropriately when they need to make an appearance in the office. Then, there is the younger generation entering the workforce with very few examples of what business dress should look like. Regardless of the reasons, dressing correctly for your business setting should be something you leverage to your advantage.

I was recently touring the Indiana State Museum and ran across an exhibit about clothes with the following statement, “We choose the color of our clothes to express ourselves, follow fashion trends or to signal the roles we play in our personal or professional lives”.

Six simple steps to gain a professional edge and increase your personal brand

  • Know Your Color Pallet. Understand what colors work well for you personally and what they are saying about you professionally. For example, blue represents someone who is trustworthy, loyal, and sincere. White indicates you are inventive and self-confident while red reflects someone who is confident and impulsive (see a full-color map at the end of this blog). Regardless of color, solid lighter button-down shirts or tops are always going to look more professional.
  • Wear Dress Pants. Avoid kakis or other more casual pants that wrinkle quickly. Instead, pick dress pants that hold a crease well and create a good base for whatever top you chose to wear. Remember, the pants (or skirt) should be a darker plain color that does not draw too much attention, but rather complements what you are wearing on top.   
  • Keep a Jacket or Blazer at Work. I always have a jacket on standby at work. A solid black or navy-blue jacket or blazer can instantly raise the level of most any professional outfit. You never know when you will be pulled into a video conference with senior management or a surprise meeting where you need to take your look up a notch.
  • Wear a Watch. A watch not only provides functional value it also enhances the overall professional look. The trendy iPhone watches are fine but a classic timepiece with the hour and minute hands is preferable. You do not need an expensive Rolex to make the right impression, in fact, it might tend to detract. Get a classic looking watch and add it to your standard professional look.
  • Skip Casual Fridays. If you work in a professional office, take a pass on the casual Friday routine. Dressing the same on Fridays as on the other four days of the week will increase your opportunity to create the right impression by 20% over your coworkers!
  • Post a Professional Picture on Company Media. If you have Intranet work platforms such as contact profiles or workshare applications where posting a picture is optional, post one! Too many people overlook this free opportunity to increase their personal brand. Also, take your dress up a notch for this post. Avoid the awkward selfie and get a professional headshot made if you can. Make sure you do not post casual, non-work appropriate pictures on business media platforms!

I remember an executive telling the story of a visit to another city where he had some employees he had never met before. One employee that made a specific impression (and not the good kind) showed up to meet him in the office in shorts and flipflops. Her excuse was that she normally worked from home and therefore did not have the need to dress up. This was a monumental unforced error on her part!

If your personal business plan is to blend in with the office crowd, then pull out the jeans and sneakers or whatever casual dress others are wearing. If on the other hand, you are a leader, dress like one! Take a little time to evaluate your wardrobe and start dressing in a way that reflects your commitment to excellence. Remember, business success rarely surprises those who achieve it, they show up every day expecting it.

Full-Color Map

The following information is based on an exhibit at the Indiana State Museum named OUR CLOTHES TELL THE STORY OF OUR LIVES.

  • White. Reserved, Refined, Orderly, Elegant, Centered, Inventive, Self-confident, Reflective
  • Blue. Calm, Sensitive, Steady, Trustworthy, Introverted, Peaceful, Loyal, Sincere
  • Green. Sensible, Calm, Outspoken, Curious, Reliable, Balanced, Persevering, Respectable
  • Yellow. Optimistic, Happy, Idealistic, Faithful, Enthusiastic, Helpful, Spontaneous, Responsible
  • Orange. Social, Independent, Active, Adventurous, Happy, Witty, Open-minded, Playful
  • Red. Passionate, Confident, Vibrant, Ambitious, Energetic, Impulsive, Determined, Extroverted
  • Pink. Affectionate, Sympathetic, Romantic, Playful, Generous, Nurturing, Kind, Emotional
  • Purple. Creative, Supportive, Sensitive, Imaginative, Peaceful, Spiritual, Charismatic, Compassionate
  • Black. Dramatic, Bold, Powerful, Mysterious, Independent, Serious, Private, Elegant

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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Key to Business Success

Image of a fork

I dove into breakfast the other day only to be surprised by the unpleasant feel of a fork with one prong that was bent and out of line with the other three. You might not think this would be a big deal but it definitely detracted from an otherwise great breakfast. With every bite, I was repeatedly reminded of the bent prong as it rubbed against my mouth. Many people I observe, and in the past even admired lead lives that are like a bent fork prong. They are known for their amazing leadership skills, entrepreneurial spirit, and overall business successes. But if you look a little closer, you realize something is out of balance.

I personally know people just like this. They seem to succeed at whatever business endeavor they put their minds to, but they cannot maintain relationship commitments, no matter how many times they try. Or they succeed in business to the detriment of their physical health, cutting corners on the basic building blocks of wellbeing such as sleep, exercise, and a proper diet. While I admire their business skill and entrepreneurial tenacity, I am now able to recognize that living a balanced life is a key facet of true business success.

Really Successful People

True business success must always allow for a constant rebalancing of work and the necessary elements of life such as relationships, health, and mental well-being. There is something about a good entrepreneur that overcomes anything that gets in their way. Unfortunately, this no-nonsense approach that brings great success in one area, can be the very thing that is detrimental to one’s overall life balance. Warren Buffett once said something to the effect that the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say “no” to almost everything. In other words, they know how to focus on what really matters even though opportunities (and distractions) are constantly presenting themselves.

Living a Balanced Lifestyle

How do you know if you are striking the delicate balance between business success and the other key areas of your life?

First, you must allow a measure of self-awareness and introspection. You will never just fall into proper balance. It takes work.

Next, you need something to measure yourself against. This is where articulating core values is an absolute must. If you have not defined the person you aspire to be, you will never become that person.

Finally, a balanced lifestyle will only come through thoughtful pursuit. The next time you observe your work overtaking your life, remember the bent fork and take time for introspection, check your core values, and pursue a balanced lifestyle.

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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Find Your Mentors

Piano Teacher

In Memory of Mr. French

I sat alone about halfway back on the right-hand side of the large church auditorium, lost in thought. It was the funeral service for Mr. French, my piano teacher. I did not know any of his family but felt compelled to honor the man who had faithfully worked to make me a better musician. I remembered all the times I walked up the stairs of his brownstone home and into the front room, where the intense smell of freshly brewed coffee and the sweet sound of piano music flooded my senses.

For years I couldn’t help but feel that we had all suffered a great loss that day and that Mr. French had with his passing taken so much talent with him, somehow leaving a musical void in the world. If only there was a way to re-capture his gift and bring back the music, he so effortlessly gave us.

Then one day it dawned on me. I was looking at his life and passing in the wrong way. His musical legacy continues to live on through all of his many students, each carrying on a piece of his incredible gift. His willingness to teach and mentor us was the very thing that has kept his musical legacy alive well beyond his natural years.

Who Are Your Mentors?

Can you name more than one person who speaks into your consciousness and inspires you to grow? Mr. French was my mentor because I showed up every week at his brownstone to practice my craft and learn from his musical talent. For you perhaps it is a business thought leader, a spiritual guide, or even an amazing music teacher. Can you name one, maybe two active mentors in your life today?

Identify your mentors. If you don’t have any mentors today decide what you are passionate about and start looking for someone that is ahead of you in this area. Seek out regular time with people you admire. If you can’t find anyone in person, sign up for podcasts from someone who is already successful in an area that you want to grow in. Make it your personal goal to be able to identify at least three mentors that challenge growth in you on a weekly basis.

Become a mentor. Develop personal skills that attract others to you who also want to grow in a given area. You don’t need to look for people to mentor, you just need to develop your core values to the point that others seek you out for guidance. If you hone your skills enough, they will find you. And when they do, carefully choose a few who you are willing to trust your legacy to and start pouring into them.

Leave a legacy. There will always be a part of me that Mr. French helped to form, no matter how much or how little I play music today. Every time I walk past the piano, I smell the freshly brewed coffee, and I hear the sound of his fingers gliding effortlessly over the keys. In many ways he imparted more to me than just music lessons, he trusted me with a little piece of his legacy. Thank you, Mr. French, for being one of the top mentors in my life!

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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Change Your Mindset – Change Your Future

Picture of positive thought

There is a proverb that says “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. Your life today is a direct result of what you have been thinking. More specifically, it is a result of what you have been thinking about yourself. If you are in a good place right now, it’s because you have had constructive thoughts that brought you to this point. If you do not like your current situation, it may be a direct result of a history of negative thoughts.

Change Your Thoughts 

There was a time when I was a natural at being a pessimist. I believed Murphy’s Law which is a supposed law of nature stating that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. What I did not realize at the time is that my thoughts were setting me up for future failure. This is where so many people live, constantly attracting the wrong results into their lives through pessimistic thought patterns and beliefs.

Poverty of the mind is just as real as, and often leads to, physical poverty. For example, if you think you are destined to be poor, then poverty will happily be your friend.  If you think nothing good can happen to you, then that will most likely be your experience. Your thoughts will eventually become your reality.

It’s time to change our thoughts! If you need to improve your health, start by thinking healthy thoughts which will then lead to healthier choices. If you need to improve your finances, start imagining ways you can reduce debt and increase your cash flow. Regardless of what you need to change, start by finding something positive in your life you are grateful for right now. Then start every day by consciously reminding yourself that you are grateful for this area of your life. From there, begin replacing negative thoughts about yourself with thoughts of gratitude, even before your actual circumstances have improved. You will be amazed over time at how a simple mindset shift can change your overall wellbeing.

Change Your Words  

There is a saying that sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me. This could not be more inaccurate. You may not be able to change what other people say about you, but you can change your own words. Start speaking words that serve you. For example, when I am working out each morning, I regularly say things to myself like I am getting stronger, I am getting faster, I feel younger. You might say this is nothing but mind over matter. Perhaps. But tomorrow I will be stronger, I will be faster, and I will feel younger and it will be a direct result of the encouraging words I am speaking to myself today.

What encouraging words can you start speaking today that will change your tomorrow?

Change Your Future

Remember, your life today is a direct result of what you have been thinking. In other words, your future will be a reflection of your mindset today. Teach yourself to be grateful for today and hopeful for tomorrow. Invest in learning how to change your mindset from being a pessimist to being an optimist. Leverage the Law of Attraction as explained in the book ‘The Secret’ to bring good things into your life. It’s time to change the future you, today.

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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Reducing Stress: 3 Practical Steps

Stress

We all know that stress is a silent killer, impacting our wellbeing in the present and our overall health long term. So, what are we to do? If you are like most, you are likely caught in the proverbial rate race just trying to get it all done and the thought of working to reduce stress stresses you out even more. So how can one reduce their overall stress index in the middle of a crazy schedule?

I know something about stress. There was a time in my life where for almost a full year I was under so much stress I could hardly eat, much less keep food on my stomach. The impact on my health was tangible and only getting worse. In the end, I had to make the choice to address the issue head-on. Here are three keys that helped me reduce stress and change my overall health for the better.

  • Stop worrying about things you can’t control. In her article “Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid” Amy Morin states that strong-minded people don’t waste energy worrying about things they can’t control. This is simple in form, but brilliant when applied. I have made it a personal mission to apply this principle to every area of my life. If traffic is heavy and causing me to slow down, I don’t worry. I can’t control it. If other people cut corners and lack integrity, I don’t worry. I can’t control them. Instead, I focus on what I can control, me!

Practice playing this principle out in one area of your life at a time. Before you know it, you will start to see your stress levels come down.

  • Set reasonable boundaries for work. I listened to a work coach this morning explain how to tell if you are a workaholic. He said to ask yourself the following set of questions. 1) What do you talk about most when you get home? 2) How much do you think about (or revert to) work after hours? 3) Are you able to take guilt-free vacations?

It is essential to set proper work boundaries for yourself. After all, your employer is not going to do so but instead continue to push for more efficiencies out of you. Do you have an established time you plan to leave work each day? Are you prepared to negotiate with your boss when they assign you that additional project you do not have the bandwidth to take on? What other ways can you address work scope creep? Remember, you work to live, not the other way around.     

  • Visualize what ‘stress-free’ looks like. What does a stress-free environment look like to you? Perhaps it’s a sunny day at the beach, or the sunset glowing across a calm lake. Maybe it’s that vacation you have been dreaming about. Visualize whatever it is in your mind, then go in search of a photo that accurately represents what you are picturing. Print it out and post it in the environment that is a know stress trigger for you. Whenever you feel yourself beginning to stress out, take 30 seconds to look at the photo and imagine you are actually in that place.

Now, take a look at the picture below that I have included as an example and just breathe for a minute.

Sunny ocean view
Stress free moment

The principle of reducing stress is so important to me now that I have incorporated it into my core values. It will take some practice but if you consistently incorporate these steps into your daily routine, you will begin to see a noticeable improvement to your stress index.

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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Healthy People: The 3 Things They Do

Healthy People Jogging

For me, a healthy person is by definition a well-balanced individual. “Healthy” comes in a lot of flavors including physical well-being, mental soundness, the strength of one’s relationships, and the list goes on. For the sake of this example, let’s focus on physical health. What are the keys to living a healthy physical lifestyle? Why do some people appear to achieve this state with relative ease while others yo-yo between food fads, diets, and the latest workout craze but with no lasting results? Here is the answer in three not so easy steps!

They make healthy living a core value. Bottom line, healthy individuals tend to define what their core values are and healthy living makes the short list. They may not have a written list of core values (which I highly recommend) but they live by them just the same. As you age, you will not naturally fall into a healthy physical lifestyle. The fact is, it will come through careful planning and a core value that is set to some extent on defying the natural aging process. Planning for physical health must by default include a solid definition of the core attributes that define you. Once you incorporate living a healthy lifestyle into your core values, you will be on your way to realizing success.   

They have habits. I heard someone say that people do not fail for lack of goals, they fail due to lack of systems. This is why new year’s resolutions, like joining the local gym, are a complete waste of time. Setting goals without the necessary systems and routines required to support them are actually harmful as it tends to reinforce a track record of experienced failure. Living a healthy lifestyle requires systems that turn into routines that lead to habits (systems > routines > habits). You don’t argue with yourself about brushing your teeth each morning. This is because you have transitioned from learning the system of how to brush, then when to brush, to finally making it a lifelong habit. Once a healthy lifestyle becomes habitual, you will be successful in this area for the long term.

They have a vision. A wise biblical sage once said something to the effect that without vision, people perish. Vision (the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom) provides the underlying energy your core values and habits will need in order to succeed. Can you clearly imagine the healthy lifestyle you will be enjoying 5 to 10 years from now? If so, you have an initial vision. Can you apply wisdom to your imagination and envision why you need to be healthy 10-15 years from now? If so, you have a mature vision. This skill is absolutely necessary for long term success and has the potential to fuel a healthy physical lifestyle for years to come.

Vision for a healthy lifestyle
Vision for a healthy lifestyle

At the end of the day, people living healthy lifestyles have characteristics that brought them to this well-balanced place in life. Whenever I read about someone who has achieved health in an area of life, I look carefully for signs of the underlying principles that have contributed to their success. They may not specifically be the ones listed above, but if you look hard enough, they will always be there in one form or another.

So, what healthy, well-balanced goals do you have for life and do they align with your core values? If not, find ones that do then seek out systems that lead to routines which turn into habits. Finally, energize your habits with your life’s vision. If you consistently apply these principles, there will be no stopping you.

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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