Sunday, May 26, 2019

8 Principles for Success (Part II)

A few weeks ago, I published part one of my 8 Principles for Success, which included the first four principles. I am thrilled to now unveil part two, which includes the four remaining principles.
5) Open your mind: I always tell people that I coach to commit to learn something new every day. By doing this, you automatically grow and expand, for it is true that whatever does not grow, dies. There are many ways that you can learn; you can read a book or magazine article, you can watch an educational program, you can listen to a program on CD or on an audio app like Audible, or you can even learn something new by having a conversation with someone.
6) Be kind to your fellow human beings: There are many ways that we can be kind to others. Greet people with a smile on the street. You never know what kind of day they're having or how much of a difference that smile could make for them. One way to show kindness is to listen to people when they are communicating with you. Listen without anticipating how you're going to respond, and just really listen. Being kind to others cultivates good energy, and it doesn't cost you a thing. Another way would be to be patient with people when you are out and about. Hold the door for the person behind you. One thing that I want to request is that you be kind to people on the road when you're driving, let people go first or let them cut in. I promise you it won't set you back in terms of time. It actually improves the traffic situation instead of making it worse. These days everyone is in a rush, and so hostile on the road. Don't be the person who made someone miss their turn because you wouldn't let them cut in.
7) Take care of the future you: In the first part of this series, I mentioned some ways of taking care of your well-being. I talked about things like eating more dark green veggies, getting some exercise, and getting enough sleep. By doing these things, you can literally prolong your life, and improve the quality of your life. The other way that I am referring to when I say take care of the future you is in the context of finances. One day we all have to stop working. 
 When that time comes, we want to be able to enjoy a certain quality of life and not have to depend on the government to support us. Even for those that have a 401k or a pension plan, by putting as little as $25 per month aside, we are being proactive and creating another financial resource for our future. Doing these things can only help you 20 years down the road, and your future self will thank you for it.
8) Don't spend your time trying to please other people, because you can't please everyone: I'm going to close with a story I heard in an audio program I was listening to last month. I believe I heard it from the book "High Performance Habits."
The story involves a little boy, an old man and a camel. They were traveling through the desert, and the little boy told the old man that he could ride the camel since he was elderly, and the little boy decided that he would walk. They passed a group of people who were gossiping among themselves loud enough for them to hear. They were accusing the old man of being selfish because he was making the little boy walk.
They felt bad about this and they wanted to please the people, so they switched places. The old man decided that he would walk while the little boy rode the camel. They passed another group of people who were criticizing the little boy, saying that he was selfish for making the poor old man walk. They then decided that they would both walk and perhaps the people would be pleased with them then. At this point, they passed another group of people who called them silly because they were both walking and no one was riding the camel.
They realized that they should just both ride the camel, and at last the people would be pleased. They passed the next group of spectators, who were criticizing them for being cruel to the camel, so they decided to carry the camel together. As they crossed a bridge over a stream while carrying the camel, they both lost grip of it and it fell into the stream and died. The moral of the story? Don't try to please other people, because everyone will never be pleased. Live your life based on what pleases you and what you know to be right or just.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

8 Principles For Success (Part I)

As someone who worked in the corporate world for many years and who has been an entrepreneur for over ten years, I would like to share some of the principles for success that I think have made the most difference for me over the years. I consider these principles to be critical ones that make up the foundation for whatever you are building. In other words, a foundation for your success.
1) Embrace your spirituality: This may look different for each of us. Depending on whether you follow a religion or not, embracing your spirituality could mean visiting your place of worship more often. It could also mean spending more time in prayer. As for me, I am a Christian, but I consider myself to be more of a "spiritual" person, as opposed to a "religious" person. Two spiritual experiences that work for me have been connecting with nature and spending quiet time in solitude. What do I mean by "connecting with nature?" I mean things like going for a walk in the park or a walk on the beach. There's something about spending time in the midst of God's awesome creation...noticing the blue sky...the beautiful sand...the green trees...the flowers...that just grounds you in a spiritual way. Also, spending time in solitude allows you to pay attention to God's whispers, His guidance into the direction in which He wants you to go. One last way of embracing your spirituality that I want to share is expressing gratitude. I always say that gratitude cultivates abundance. One of the things that I stress to my coachees is that it is so easy to come up with a list of things that we are not happy with, things that aren't going well. But there is so much power in creating a list of things that you can be grateful for, even in the middle of a crisis. Personally, a few of the first things that end up on my gratitude list are having a place to lay my head at night, being in good health, having the means to prepare a healthy meal and being part of a very large family.
2) Be responsible for your well-being: This is an area in which the list of ways to do this can be very lengthy. I'd like to share three ways that are at the top of my list. I'll start with eating well. Making subtle changes in your diet can make a huge difference in your energy level, your productivity and your overall well-being. Some of those changes might include eliminating or reducing the amount of fried foods, red meat, and white flour products that you consume. Another change that makes a difference is increasing the amount of dark green vegetables you consume. To start, they help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and mental decline. I speak from experience because I made all of the above changes in 2011, and over these past years my blood work has remained near perfect, even at the age of 52. Making sure you exercise is another change that can be made. It's not even necessary to join a gym or buy expensive equipment. You could add 30 minutes of exercise three or four times per week by going for a walk in the park, or working out with an instructor via YouTube...for free! The last change I'm going to mention here is getting enough sleep. Years ago I used to get up in the middle of the night to do work on my computer, etc. because I could not sleep. Then, one year I was sharing this with my physician.  He told me to start staying in bed when I can't sleep, and it will provide me with at least a percentage of the benefit that I would get if I were asleep. I've been doing that since then, and it has made a world of difference in how I feel as I move through my busy agenda each day.
3) Be a contribution to others: I personally believe that each person on this earth has a purpose. We all have gifts to share with our fellow human beings, and in turn, they need what we have to give. That's one way to be a contribution, to share your gifts, whether it's through the work that you do to earn a living, or through philanthropy. The second way I'm going to mention here is by being vulnerable. I believe that the purpose of some of the experiences that we go through in life is to prepare us to minister to others who are dealing with similar circumstances somewhere down the road. By being vulnerable and sharing your story, your challenge, and how you got through it, you can sometimes provide what is needed by someone else to overcome their challenge.
4) Live in the present: I once came across a quote that read: If you’re depressed you’re living in the past...if you’re anxious you’re living in the future...and if you’re at peace you’re living in the present...the more time you spend in the present, the richer your life will be" Unknown. Living in the past puts you in a negative state over things that you cannot change or control. At the same token, spending too much time worrying about the future is a moot point. There was a study conducted once by the Huffington Post that proved that 90% of what we worry about actually never happens. All we have is right now, and that's where we should focus our energy, on being in the moment, right here...right now.
Well, that sums up the first four principles. Stay tuned for the next four. I hope these make a difference for you in the meantime.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Gift Ideas That Won't Add To The Clutter

For the past several years, I have encouraged my family members and friends not to buy me tangible "gifts." Even the love of my life knows that I have all the "material stuff" that I want and need, and that I prefer not to add more "stuff" when holidays roll around. Instead of giving me a gift, he and I celebrate holidays in other ways.  For example, we take a weekend getaway, cook dinner for each other, or send fresh flowers, which have a lifespan and can be discarded once they are wilted. Additionally, I am very careful about what I accept from generous clients who offer me things that they don't want. I definitely take advantage of this perk that comes with my job, and this is the reason why I don't really want for anything when it comes to material belongings. I took these practices on as a result of working with people to de-clutter their homes for the past 10+ years, and seeing the amount of "stuff" they've accumulated, and struggle to get rid of.
Over these years, I have gone into hundreds of homes, working with clients to de-clutter various spaces. I've lost count of how many times I've come across gifts with the wrapping paper still on them, having never been opened by the recipients. I also see the significant number of clients who have little knick knacks that were brought back to them by friends who had been on vacation, tons of little favors from weddings and other events, and gifts given by loved ones with good intentions that were opened, but yet, never used.

In this article, I want to share with you some gift ideas that would be very useful to the people you love if given to them, but that don't add anything to their physical space. Based on my experience, these suggestions have worked out very well:
1) Stock: My grandson will be three years old next month, and for Christmas and birthdays, I never add to his collection of toys. Instead, I ask his mom if he needs clothes or shoes, and if he doesn't, I buy him a share of stock. I use a company called Computershare to do this, as they have a minimum investment amount of $25, which is very doable. Through this company, you can purchase the stock of major corporations, such as McDonald's, Verizon, Walmart and Intel.
2) A gym membership: This is a great idea for someone who is serious about their health and well-being, or someone who exercises regularly. I do not recommend purchasing this for someone who is not active or who you know will probably not use it.  In those cases it would be a waste of money.
3) Lottery tickets: This is a great gift idea for anyone from co-workers to family members, it's an opportunity to win money, at a nominal cost. Who wouldn't love it!
4) A day at the spa: This is actually one of my favorites, and those who know me are well aware of it!  I absolutely love visits to the spa, and because I travel so much, it's a perfect gift idea since there are now companies like that allow you to use their gift card all over the country. You simply plug your zip code into their site to find their partners. 
5) Career coaching: This is a great idea for a college graduate, or someone who you know is currently unemployed or looking to change jobs or make a major career move.
The next time you are charged with purchasing a gift for someone, consider one of these suggestions, especially if you are buying for someone who is struggling with clutter. It's a way to give and to celebrate holidays and accomplishments without adding to the personal "stuff" of those you love.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Why You Should Never Go Grocery Shopping Without A List

You may have heard of the so called "myth" indicating that if you go into the grocery store while you are hungry, you will overspend because of your state of mind.  I happen to believe this to be true.  But there's also another "rule" I follow which indicates that it's just as dangerous to go into a grocery store without a shopping list.  As a practitioner who spends much of my time supporting clients in getting and staying organized, and increasing their productivity, I always advise my clients against this.  

Shopping without a list can lead to impulse purchases that aren't needed, as well as forgetting to purchase items that initially triggered the visit to the grocery store.  Additionally, according to Reuters Health, there is definitely a link between the practice of shopping with a list, the quality of food purchased, and overall health

There are numerous studies surveying food shoppers who use a shopping list vs. those who do not.  These kind of studies point to the relationship between this practice, BMI and health conditions of household members.  One study conducted by a credible source was the Pittsburgh Hill Research on Eating, Shopping & Health/PHRESH Study.  This study involved interviews, diet assessments and a collection of some medical data, including height and weight.  The results revealed that a definite underlying factor for drastic differences in health and BMI involved shopping with a list, which controlled impulsive buying and affected the decisions made and therefore, the quality of food purchased.

In my book, "Straighten Up! 50 Simple Ways to Live a More Organized Life (2016)," I offer some tips on ways to create a quick list even if you decide to embark on an unplanned visit to the grocery store.  One way, even if you nothing to write with or no paper, would be to pull into the parking lot, think about what you need before getting out of the car, and type your list using the "notes" feature in your mobile phone.  If you are comfortable enough with technology, you could use the talk and text feature, in which case your phone would do the typing for you.  This method of creating a typed list works best for those of you who need for your shopping list to be visual.  Personally, I like the act of writing on paper when I'm doing a certain level of planning, but a shopping list is something that does not have to be visual for me.  With that being said, what I normally do if I decide to run into a grocery store and I don't have a list is, I simply record my shopping list using the voice recorder in my mobile phone.  This is another tip that I offer in my book.

Little habits can sometimes make a big difference, so I encourage you to try one of these tips and see if it makes a difference in the quality of the food you bring home.  I guarantee that it will ultimately impact both your health and your pocket book.