You Can Save Money

Would you be interested if I told you there’s a secret to saving money? Well, it’s true. There are a few secrets that can be used to save money, even if it doesn’t feel like you have any money to save. The bad news is that these secrets have been made public for decades and it’s simply up to you to decide whether or not to use them.

Saving Money Secret #1: Budgeting

First, you need to create a budget. Before you can even dream about saving money you have to know where your money is going. There’s simply no way around it. How can you decide where to make cuts or find extra cash to save if you have no idea where all of your money is going? You can’t. So, it’s time to create a budget. The thing is, you don’t have to make it a chore. In fact, many successful people get through life without tracking every single penny each and every day. You can probably get by doing the same

Initially, you do have to at least sit down and find out where your money is going. How much is being spent on housing, utilities, groceries, debt, and entertainment? Once you have created a clear picture of where your money goes in a typical month you can begin to spot trends and problem areas. After you’ve found the problem areas you’ll have a better idea of where you can cut back and by how much. Then you can use that money to apply to your savings.

Saving Money Secret #2: Paying Yourself First

After you’ve identified where your money is going you should have a few spare dollars to put aside into your savings. That’s a great start, but there’s another secret to saving money: paying yourself first. You’ve probably heard that phrase before, but it’s so common because it works.

If you’re like most people you probably wait until your salary hits your account, you pay the bills, and buy the weekly groceries before deciding how much you can afford to deposit into savings. By then the amount may be small and you’re worried you might need those few dollars later in the week so you avoid putting any money into savings at all. Big mistake. You need to think of your savings just like you would any other bill. When your electricity bill comes each month what do you do? You make sure it gets paid, right? That’s how you need to treat your savings account.

If your goal is to save $100 a month then think of that as a $100 bill that needs to be paid. If you are thinking about this in terms of a bill you’re more likely to make that deposit and build up your emergency fund. Just thinking about your monthly savings as a bill isn’t enough, and that’s where you have to pay yourself first. You need to create an automatic savings plan that will automatically deposit money into your savings account before you even have a chance to spend it. This can be done right through your employer’s direct deposit or with a recurring transfer with your bank. And just like magic, you don’t even miss the money going into savings each week, yet your savings account begins growing over time.

Saving Money Secret #3: Spend Less Than You Earn

This is the holy grail of personal finance, but if you can’t utilize this secret you’ll never be able to save money. You simply have to spend less money than you earn and there’s no way around that. It’s all about cash flow. If you earn $100 and spend $110 you’re now at a -$10. Where does that extra ten dollars come from? Usually it’s borrowed money. And guess what? That borrowed money comes with interest.

That means you’re actually more than ten dollars in the hole. As you begin to do this on a regular basis month after month and with large dollar amounts it’s easy to see how someone can get tens of thousands of dollars in debt, which is exactly why most people feel as if they don’t have any money to save.

You Can Save Money

Do those secrets sound like common sense? They should. Most of us know that we need to budget our money, put money aside for the future, and stay out of debt, but many of us still can’t do it. Unfortunately, short of winning the lottery there are no secrets to building wealth. These three sound money management principles are the foundation of personal finance. One thing is certain. If you can budget your money so that you are spending less than you earn and put some of that money into a savings account before you have time to spend it, you will be able to save money and build wealth.

 

 

 

 

HOW TO LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

It is lovely to return to my desk after a long absence as a result of the 2 passions in my life ; fashion and talking(put simply) I was in China for a week ordering stock for my clothing boutique, was home for less than 24 hours then I jetted of to Uganda for a Monitoring and Evaluation  and Learning Workshop organized and hosted by  ACV Kenya (dynamic organization- google them!) The  past few months  have been eventful-  great victories and great disappointments. I did a great job of celebrating and being grateful for the victories and also keeping my head up and staying positive in the face of disappointment. I have just realized though that sometimes to much strength is not good(article for another day) as you can end up making very big mistakes because of the issues you carry in your subconscious(coming soon)
As I woke up from a 6 hour nap (having arrived from Uganda this morning) this lovely warm Saturday afternoon I am looking out at the great views from my  bedroom window and I am thinking how I can learn from my mistakes.
You can only learn from a mistake after you admit you’ve made it. As soon as you start blaming other people and God (or the universe itself) you distance yourself from any possible lesson. But if you courageously stand up and honestly say “This is my mistake and I am responsible” the possibilities for learning will move towards you. Admission of a mistake, even if only privately to yourself, makes learning possible by moving the focus away from blame assignment and towards understanding. Wise people admit their mistakes easily. They know progress accelerates when they do. Some mistakes are not tangible, they can be as simple as losing a life long belief and compromising on your values.
This runs counter to the cultural assumptions we have about mistakes and failure, namely that they are shameful things. We’re taught in school, in our families, or at work to feel guilty about failure and to do whatever we can to avoid mistakes. This sense of shame combined with the inevitability of setbacks when attempting difficult things explains why many people give up on their goals: they’re not prepared for the mistakes and failures they’ll face on their way to what they want. What’s missing in many people’s beliefs about success is the fact that the more challenging the goal, the more frequent and difficult setbacks will be. The larger your ambitions, the more dependent you will be on your ability to overcome and learn from your mistakes.
But for many reasons admitting mistakes is difficult. An implied value in many cultures is that our work represents us: if you fail a test, then you are a failure. If you make a mistake then you are a mistake (You may never have felt this way, but many people do. It explains the behavior of some of your high school or college friends). Like eggs, steak and other tasty things we are given letter grades (A, B, C, D and F) organizing us for someone else’s consumption: universities and employers evaluate young candidates on their grades, numbers based on scores from tests unforgiving to mistakes.
For anyone that never discovers a deeper self-identity, based not on lack of mistakes but on courage, compassionate intelligence, commitment and creativity, life is a scary place made safe only by never getting into trouble, never breaking rules and never taking the risks that their hearts tell them they need to take.
Learning from mistakes requires three things:

  • Putting yourself in situations where you can make interesting mistakes
  • Having the self-confidence to admit to them
  • Being courageous about making changes

The four kinds of mistakes

Stupid: Absurdly dumb things that just happen. Stubbing your toe, dropping your pizza on your neighbor’s fat cat or poking yourself in the eye with a banana.

Simple: Mistakes that are avoidable but your sequence of decisions made inevitable. Having the power go out in the middle of your party because you forgot to pay the rent, or running out of beer at said party because you didn’t anticipate the number of guests.

Involved: Mistakes that are understood but require effort to prevent. Regularly arriving late to work/friends, eating fast food for lunch every day, or going bankrupt at your start-up company because of your complete ignorance of basic accounting.

Complex: Mistakes that have complicated causes and no obvious way to avoid next time. Examples include making tough decisions that have bad results, relationships that fail, or other unpleasant or unsatisfying outcomes to important things.

Moral: Mistakes that involve breaking rules, values and taking risks that your heart tells you you need to make.

(I’m sure you can come up with other categories: that’s fantastic, please share them. But these are the ones you’re stuck with).

I’m leaving all philosophical questions about mistakes up to you. One person’s pleasure is another person’s mistake: decide for yourself. Maybe you enjoy stabbing your neighbor’s cat with a banana, who knows. We all do things we know are bad in the long term, but are ‘oh’ so good in the short term. So regardless of where you stand, I’m working with you. However mistakes are defined in your personal philosophy this should help you learn from them.

Learning from mistakes that fall into the first two categories (Stupid & Simple) is easy, but shallow. Once you recognize the problem and know the better way, you should be able to avoid similar mistakes. Or in some cases you’ll realize that no matter what you do once in a while you’ll do stupid things (e.g. even Einstein stubbed his toes).

But these kinds of mistakes are not interesting. The lessons aren’t deep and it’s unlikely they lead you to learn much about yourself or anything else.

The kind of mistakes you make define you. The more interesting the mistakes, the more interesting the life. If your biggest mistakes are missing reruns of tv-shows or buying the wrong lottery ticket you’re not challenging yourself enough to earn more interesting mistakes.

And since there isn’t much to learn from simple and stupid mistakes, most people try to minimize their frequency and how much time we spend recovering from them. Their time is better spent learning from bigger mistakes. But if we habitually or compulsively make stupid mistakes, then what we really have is an involved mistake.

Involved mistakes

The third pile of mistakes, Involved mistakes, requires significant changes to avoid. These are mistakes we tend to make through either habit or nature. But since change is so much harder than we admit, we often suffer through the same mistakes again and again instead of making the tough changes needed to avoid them.

Difficultly with change involves an earlier point  I made. Some feel that to agree to change means there is something wrong with them. “If I’m perfect, why would I need to change?” Since they need to protect their idea of perfection, they refuse change (Or possibly, even refuse to admit they did anything wrong).

But this is a trap: refusing to acknowledge mistakes, or tendencies to make similar kinds of mistakes, is a refusal to acknowledge reality. If you can’t see the gaps, flaws, or weaknesses in your behavior you’re forever trapped in the same behavior and limitations you’ve always had, possibly since you were a child (When someone tells you you’re being a baby, they might be right).

Another challenge to change is that it may require renewing commitments you’ve broken before, from the trivial “Yes, I’ll try to remember to take the trash out” to the more serious. This happens in any environment: the workplace, friendships, romantic relationships or even commitments you’ve made to yourself. Renewing commitments can be tough since it requires not only admitting to the recent mistake, but acknowledging similar mistakes you’ve made before. The feelings of failure and guilt become so large that we don’t have the courage to try again.

This is why success in learning from mistakes often requires involvement from other people, either for advice, training or simply to keep you honest. A supportive friend’s, mentor’s or professional’s perspective on your behavior will be more objective than your own and help you identify when you’re hedging, breaking or denying the commitments you’ve made.

In moments of weakness the only way to prevent a mistake is to enlist someone else. The biggest lesson to learn in involved mistakes is that you have to examine your own ability to change. Some kinds of change will be easier for you than others and until you make mistakes and try to correct them you won’t know which they are.

How to handle complex mistakes

The most interesting kinds of mistake are the last group: Complex mistakes. The more complicated the mistake you’ve made, the more patient you need to be. There’s nothing worse than flailing around trying to fix something you don’t understand: you’ll always make things worse.

Professional investigators, like journalists, police detectives and doctors, try to get as many perspectives on situations as possible before taking action (Policemen use eyewitnesses, Doctors use exams and tests, scientific studies use large sample sizes). They know that human perception, including their own, is highly fallible and biased by many factors. The only way to obtain an objective understanding is to compare several different perspectives. When trying to understand your own mistakes in complex situations you should work in the same way.

Start by finding someone else to talk to about what happened. Even if no one was within 50 yards when you crashed your best friend’s BMW into your neighbor’s living room, talking to someone else gives you the benefit of their experience applied to your situation. They may know of someone that’s made a similar mistake or know a way to deal with the problem that you don’t.

But most importantly, by describing what happened you are forced to break down the chronology and clearly define (your recollection of) the sequence of events. They may ask you questions that surface important details you didn’t notice before. There may have been more going on (did the brakes fail? Did you swerve to avoid your neighbor’s daughter? etc.) than you, consumed by your emotions about your failure, realized.

If multiple people were involved (say, your co-workers), you want to hear each person’s account of what happened. Each person will emphasize different aspects of the situation based on their skills, biases, and circumstances, getting you closer to a complete view of what took place.

If the situation was/is contentious you may need people to report their stories independently – police investigators never have eyewitness collaborate. They want each point of view to be delivered unbiased by other eyewitnesses (possibly erroneous) recollections. Later on they’ll bring each account together and see what fits and what doesn’t.

Until you work backwards for moments, hours or days before the actual mistake event, you probably won’t see all of the contributing factors and can’t learn all of the possible lessons. The more complex the mistake, the further back you’ll need to go and the more careful and open-minded you need to be in your own investigation. You may even need to bring in an objective outsider to help sort things out. You’d never have a suspect in a crime lead the investigation, right? Then how can you completely trust yourself to investigate your own mistakes?

Here some questions to ask to help your investigation:

  • What was the probable sequence of events?
  • Were their multiple small mistakes that led to a larger one?
  • Were there any erroneous assumptions made?
  • Was it possible to have recognized bad assumptions earlier?
  • Was there information we know now that would have been useful then?
  • What would we do differently if in this exact situation again?
  • How can we avoid getting into situations like this? (What was the kind of situation we wanted to be in?)
  • Was this simply unavoidable given all of the circumstances? A failure isn’t a mistake if you were attempting the impossible.
  • Has enough time passed for us to know if this is a mistake or not?

Moral Mistakes

  • Firstly apologise/ repent to God and to yourself.
  • Follow the introspection in Complex mistakes (above).
  • Ask your self the right questions and answer them very honestly.
  • Forgive yourself
  • Recommit with unwavering faith to you vales and beliefs
  • Move on! Guilt will hamper your progress.

Humor and Courage

No amount of analysis can replace your confidence in yourself. When you’ve made a mistake, especially a visible one that impacts other people, it’s natural to question your ability to perform next time. But you must get past your doubts. The best you can do is study the past, practice for the situations you expect, and get back in the game. Your studying of the past should help broaden your perspective. You want to be aware of how many other smart, capable well meaning people have made similar mistakes to the one you made, and went on to even bigger mistakes, I mean successes, in the future.

One way to know you’ve reached a healthy place is your sense of humor. It might take a few days, but eventually you’ll see some comedy in what happened. When friends tell stories of their mistakes it makes you laugh, right? Well when you can laugh at your own mistakes you know you’ve accepted it and no longer judge yourself on the basis of one single event. Reaching this kind of perspective is very important in avoiding future mistakes. Humor loosens up your psychology and prevents you from obsessing about the past. It’s easy to make new mistakes by spending too much energy protecting against the previous ones. Remember the saying “a man fears the tiger that bit him last, instead of the tiger that will bite him next”.

So the most important lesson in all of mistake making is to trust that while mistakes are inevitable, if you can learn from the current one, you’ll also be able to learn from future ones. No matter when happens tomorrow you’ll be able to get value from it, and apply it to the day after that. Progress won’t be a straight line but if you keep learning you will have more successes than failures, and the mistakes you make along the way will help you get to where you want to go.

The learning from mistakes checklist

  • Accepting responsibility makes learning possible.
  • Don’t equate making mistakes with being a mistake.
  • You can’t change mistakes, but you can choose how to respond to them.
  • Growth starts when you can see room for improvement.
  • Work to understand why it happened and what the factors were.
  • What information could have avoided the mistake?
  • What small mistakes, in sequence, contributed to the bigger mistake?
  • Are there alternatives you should have considered but did not?
  • What kinds of changes are required to avoid making this mistake again?What kinds of change are difficult for you?
  • How do you think your behavior should/would change in you were in a similar situation again?
  • Work to understand the mistake until you can make fun of it (or not want to kill others that make fun).
  • Don’t over-compensate: the next situation won’t be the same as the last.

Here’s to making the

  • 1st biggest mistake
  • stupidest mistake
  • silliest mistake
  • moral mistake
  • complex mistake
  • involved mistake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘A CHAMPION IS SOMEONE WHO DOES WHAT THEY DON’T WANT TO DO IN ORDER TO GET WHAT THEY WANT’

I am asking myself how I got myself in this place. 4 written assignments that are 2 months overdue, 6 oral assignments, one is ready but hasn’t been submitted in 6 months! How? I think I am quite focused and organised. Today is a Monday, oral exam week! Woe unto me! I am currently planning on making a call to my supervisor at daybreak to defer my exam to next month while I sort myself out… I know I work better under pressure but this is pure fantastic madness!

I am a learning addict so I enjoy the process of self development, hopefully I will end up with a title before or after my name. At this rate though it might take me forever. What I dislike is the exam and assignment process, “Look I’m an audio-visual learner I know what I need to know already. Why do I need to answer questions on tape and on paper?” But life does not present itself that way… there is always time for testing where you need to prove yourself. Alas, here I am!

On this note I’d like to share with you ‘how you can make yourself do the things you do not want to do’, so that you don’t end up in the place I’m in this morning.

Here are some strategies that I’ve used(that I need to revisit):

  1. Put yourself in jail. If you’re working on something that’s going to take a long time, and you have the urge to try to rush, or to feel impatient, pretend you’re in jail. If you’re in jail, you have all the time in the world. You have no reason to hurry, no reason to cut corners or to try to do too many things at once. You can slow down, concentrate. You can take the time to get every single detail right.
  2. Ask for help. This is one of my most useful Secrets of Adulthood. Why is this so hard? I have no idea. But whenever I ask for help, I’m amazed at how much it…helps.
  3. Remember: most decisions don’t require extensive research. This is another important Secret of Adulthood. I often get paralyzed by my inability to make a decision, but by reminding myself that often, one choice just isn’t that much different from another choice, I can move on.
  4. Just do it. Don’t sit around dreading what you know you have to do, just do it and as soon as you begin, there will be positive momentum that is generated that you can build off of.
  5. Take a baby step. If you feel yourself dismayed at the prospect of the chain of awful tasks that you have to accomplish, just take one step today. Tomorrow, take the next step. The forward motion is encouraging, and before long, you’ll probably find yourself speeding toward completion.
  6. Do it first thing in the morning. The night before, vow to yourself to do the dreaded task. And the next day, at the first possible moment – as soon as you walk into work, or when the office opens, or whenever – just do it. Don’t allow yourself to reflect or procrastinate. This is particularly true of exercise. If you think you’ll be tempted to skip, try to work out in the morning.
  7. Protect yourself from interruption. How often have you finally steeled yourself to start some difficult project, only to be interrupted the minute you get going? This makes a hard task much harder. Carve out some time to work.
  8. Give yourself a reward for doing it. If you had to go on that undesired business trip, perhaps you take the next day off or treat yourself to something you don’t ordinarily get to do.
  9. Find something good about what you have to do. There is always something…you just have to honestly look.  If it will somehow serve a positive purpose in the future, focus on that.
  10. Think about other things that you actually like. You can borrow “feel good equity” from other things you are experiencing that make you happy.  Borrow some of that positive energy even if it is unrelated.
  11. No Sob Stories. Don’t complain about what you need to do to anyone else.  Try to always frame the situation in a positive manner when describing it to other people (i.e. I have to take a 5 hour flight, but at least I will get in some good reading time).  It is not going to help you to have a pity party and it certainly isn’t helpful to invite anyone else.
  12. Think about how great you will feel once you are done. It is amazing how good you feel when you have finally completed that one thing that has been weighing on your mind.  Look forward to having that feeling. (I am looking forward to getting an A+!)

NB: Pay attention to the amount of time you spend working on tasks you dislike. No one enjoys invasive medical tests, preparing tax returns or catching up with way overdue assignments, but if you feel like your life consists of nothing but going from one dreaded chore to the next, you should take note. Maybe you need to think about switching jobs, or delegating a particular chore to someone else, or paying someone to take care of a task that’s making you miserable.

I’m very good at making myself do things I don’t want to do (EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO ASSIGNMENTS), and while this is an enormous help in many situations, it has also allowed me to go down some dead ends in my career. The fact is, you’re unlikely to be happy or successful when every aspect of your life or job feels like a big drag. Don’t accuse yourself of being lazy or being a procrastinator, but ask – what’s making this so difficult? The fact that you’re finding it hard to make yourself do something is a sign that maybe you should be doing something else.

On the upside: novelty and challenge, as uncomfortable as they can be, DO bring happiness. The chore that feels onerous today may give you a huge boost of satisfaction tomorrow, when it’s behind you. Keep that in mind.

‘A CHAMPION IS SOMEONE WHO DOES WHAT THEY DON’T WANT TO DO IN ORDER TO GET WHAT THEY WANT’~Unknown.

What are some other strategies that you’ve found useful in trying to get yourself to jump some hurdle?

What is Soft Skills Training?

At Avodah Consultants we specialise in soft skills training and every time I mention that I am a Management Consultant specialising in soft skills training I get asked the question; what exactly are soft skills?  Well, hard skills are specific abilities and usually related to professional knowledge, tools, or techniques.  For example, the ability to use software programs, analyze data, operate specific machinery, or being a certified professional in any field can be considered hard skills.

Soft skills aren’t as easy to define. Soft skills include things such as: business etiquette, time management, customer service, emotional intelligence communication skills, creativity, leadership, adaptability, attitude, etc. Particularly when technical skills are equal, it’s the soft skills that make one person stand out over another.

It has now become apparent that employees need to be more than their job description. The bottom line is this: You probably won’t get an interview without the required hard skills, but it’s the soft skills that will get you the job and, eventually, the promotions.

And advanced proficiency in soft skills can really accelerate your career!

Skill #1: Prioritize Accurately

The ability to prioritize is usually ranked as most important. An average person might prioritize their projects based the order they were given – first in, first out. Or they’ll skip from project to project, depending on which project bosses scream the loudest.

However, you will enjoy more career success if you’re able to look at your projects and know which are most important as you are moving through them. This requires understanding how each project maps to the company’s goals. It requires having a good grasp of the business you’re in. It requires the ability to ask the right questions and offer solutions. It requires the ability to manage your manager’s expectations.

Skill #2: Communicate Effectively

I’m sure you can guess my answer to what soft skill is most important! For me, in-person communication still matters most. An average person doesn’t think about how his message will be received on the other end. They’ll text or email because it’s faster and more comfortable.  They will prepare a presentation at the last minute because they don’t understand its importance.

You will definitely experience more career success if you understand when a face-to-face is needed and how to prepare for in-person communication. For example, if you work from home, do you make regular visits to the main office? Do you know how to communicate with members of different generations? A text might be most effective to communicate with an intern, while a conversation might be better for an engineering manager.

Skill #3: Demonstrate Social Savvy

Although the first two skills on this list might be predictable, this next one may not be: social savviness (that’s social media savviness). To be clear, knowing how to post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are hard skills that nearly everyone entering the job market knows, however, it’s the social savvy that’s important.

For example, do you understand how to manage your online reputation? Do you know how to separate your personal persona from work?  Do you know how to use Twitter to start and engage in professional conversations?  Do you know how to creatively use social media to engage prospects and customers online?

The list goes on and next week we explore more on how to get you ahead of the pack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harnessing the Power of Routines

Your future is hidden in your daily routine…
James Allen said, “We are anxious to change our circumstances, but we are unwilling to change ourselves.”  Put it another way, we are anxious to succeed, but we are unwilling to create the habits that cause success. As I continue in my quest for self mastery and personal effectiveness, I continue to study and try and apply the said laws of success. The more I interrogate and practice the more I realise the power of routines.

The Law of Habit states that the more frequently you perform a task the easier is becomes to perform that task the next time, and consequently, the more difficult it becomes not to perform the task. If you go the same way to work everyday, you would find it difficult to go in a different direction, simply because we are creatures of habit, and we protect the habits that we have, good or bad.

Over 90 percent of the tasks that we complete are rooted in habit: the way we put on our shirt, brush our teeth, skip flossing at night, all are rooted in habit. Our habits are a very powerful tool, and when used to our benefit can be life altering. Morning and evening routines lay the foundation to success habits

In order to make progress you need to tap into the power of your subconscious mind, the source of your habits. The subconscious mind is the “work horse” of the mind because it controls your habits; it manages the “habits” that accounts for your life. If you have good habits programmed into your subconscious mind, then you will do good things, and you will succeed.  And, if you have bad habits programmed into your subconscious mind, then you will act accordingly. Your daily routines program habits into your subconscious mind.

If you can learn how to have a good day, then you can have a good life, you just have to duplicate that day through the tool of your routine habits. Your habits are a servant, and they will enslave you or free you.  You choose by using your will power what they do.  When you consciously follow a routine over and over again, it eventually becomes a habit.  Your desires are turned over to the force of habit, and you become the slave of the habit.

You don’t need a miracle, and you don’t need to be lucky.  You need the right set of habits.  If you have the habits of a rich person then you will become rich, if you have the habits of a thin person then you will become thin, if you have the habits of a successful person, then you will become successful, it’s all about the habits that you have.

It’s therefore important that you discover the habits that cause you to succeed in a given area.  Once you find what those habits are it’s just a matter of forming a routine to repeat that activity over and over until it becomes a habit. If you can get the habits right, the results will come automatically.  A habit of investing large sums of money will eventually make you rich; a habit of eating the right foods and exercising will eventually give you the body of your dreams.

How do you create new habits?  By performing the task over and over again at the same time, in generally the same way, in other words; ROUTINE! When you do this you will have a new habit, which will take control over the old habit.  It won’t be easy at first, but once the habit becomes set, it will be as difficult to break the new habit as it was to break the old habit.

Here is how you can kickstart your habit change by creating new routines
NB; THIS IS NOT CAST IN STONE, do what works for you as long as it’s a routine that fuels your effectiveness.

Review your life plan. Use your life plan to create your daily routine. Look at your most important goals. Are there any habits or behaviors you need to instill in yourself to achieve those goals? Make those behaviors or habits part of your morning and evening routines.

Maybe your goal is like mine to finish writing my book projects this year. Make writing for 30 minutes uninterrupted the thing you do every morning. If your goal is to learn French, make studying a French grammar book part of your evening routine. If losing weight is your goal, make exercise the first thing you do in the morning.

While the tasks you decide to include in your morning and evening routines will vary depending on your goals, every evening, review the day’s work and plan your day for tomorrow. In the morning, review your schedule and your long and short term goals. I promise that if you do these two things, you’ll find yourself more focused and will accomplish more during the day.

Make your routine firm. Evening and morning routines lose all their power if they are kept vague. You cannot say, “I’ll get up whenever and do such and such a thing for a while or so, and go to bed when I start feeling tired and read for a bit.” Your routine must be firmly set in place. Wake up at the same time every day. Set a fixed time that your evening routine will begin, and go to bed at the same time each night during the week. Know exactly what activities you’re going to do during your routines, what order you will do them, and how much time you will spend on each thing.

Adapt your routine as your life changes. While your current routines must be firm, they will probably change as you pass through different seasons of your life. While reading a book before bed remained a constant, the morning routines of Theodore Roosevelt changed through the different seasons of his life. When he was overworked and stressed as a state legislator, he hired a prize fighter to come to his room in the morning for a half hour of sparring to make sure he got in a bout of exercise each day and to blow off some steam. While serving as governor of New York, he also tackled the task of writing a biography of Oliver Cromwell, and the first thing he did each morning was to carry a stack of notes into his study and dictate the book for an hour or more to a stenographer.

When it comes to your morning and evening routines, be flexible and adapt, but try to keep a steady routine going in your life like. Remember, morning and evening routines lay the groundwork for your success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Routine and Rituals

Lately I found myself floundering—stuck within an alternating cycle of feeling either overwhelmed or paralyzed.

The combination of creative tasks and deadlines typically drives me with a strong sense of purpose and fulfilment. However, though I had work to do I struggled to act. Instead of filling pages with words and ideas, sending promised proposals and following up, I consoled myself by eating chocolate and watching lots of bad TV.

Needless to say, none of this was any help in boosting my productivity or pulling me out of the doldrums. It’s probably better not to discuss what it did to my waistline!

When my quarter ended and I was doing my evaluation, I realized I had fallen into a series of bad habits: email before devotions, vegging in front of the TV instead of studying, and lunches at restaurants instead of healthy, homemade lunches.

I had totally forsaken one of the key tenets of living a life that I love: if you want an extraordinary life, you must have equally extraordinary routines and rituals.

So often we feel stuck because we’re allowing life to simply happen around us. We are overwhelmed because we are trying to squeeze as much as possible into each day, usually without a plan of any sort.

We are stuck in habits that exacerbate our feelings of stagnation, and we allow our feelings of being overwhelmed to paralyze us.
So, what is that we need? The twin powers of routine and ritual. Nourishing and supportive routines help frame our lives. The word “routine” can seem incredibly stiff and boring, but good routines are neither. Rather than stifling your creativity, routines are about managing your energy effectively in order to channel it toward your real desires and purpose.

Our daily actions are what create our life, so by creating nourishing and supportive routines, we are choosing to fuel our days and nourish our spirits. 
We all need daily time-outs, an excuse to stop and take a moment to celebrate, connect, honour and recognize the different aspects of our lives. This is where ritual comes in.
Rituals offer us compassionate discipline where we focus our attention and energy on achieving a certain feeling. They will ground us regardless of what’s happening around us.
Extraordinary routines require minimum engagement in order to let us achieve productive results. Rituals are celebratory, meaningful, and require us to be completely engaged—even if it’s only for two minutes.

As I entered the 2nd quarter, the first thing I did was to re-establish nourishing routines and rituals, thereby creating structure, support, and full-on moments of bliss. I realized very quickly that solid morning and bedtime routines formed parenthesis around my day. This seemingly simple change in my day-to-day living has altered my world.
I’m more productive, more creative, and feeling incredibly grounded. My sense of drive and purpose has returned to me with an underlying feeling of peacefulness.

Nearly every person I talk to says that the way she starts her day sets a tone for the whole day. Our morning routines set the tone for productivity, and our morning rituals give us a daily check-in with how we want to feel, and who we want to be.

So, what should you include in your morning routine?
Choose actions that create an environment of order and support. Similarly, nothing can derail your day like skipping a part of your morning routine. Even something as basic as making the bed every morning gives your brain an important message: the old day is over, and today is a fresh, clean slate.
Creating your morning ritual can be just as simple: just turn some of your regular morning tasks—showering, for example, or making coffee—into a time of reflection.

More powerful than any morning habits, however, are our bedtime routines and rituals.
Bedtime routines allow us to close out our current day as well as stage the coming one. The elements of your routine should be personal to you, but I recommend that they include both self-care (brushing your teeth, washing your face, moisturizing your skin) and preparation for the coming day (choosing your outfit, reviewing your appointments, and staging your bag and keys near the door).

Your bedtime ritual, on the other hand, is a time to focus on connection, reflection, and celebration.
Regardless of how much you did (or didn’t) accomplish that day, each evening is an opportunity to reconnect with yourself, your desires, and even your partner.

Adding small rituals of opening and closure to our days gives tremendous value to our minds and souls. You’ll know you’ve created good routines if you can put them on autopilot and still get results. Good rituals will be evident in how peaceful your heart feels.

As you establish these routines and rituals into your days, don’t be too rigid. I personally create white space in my schedule to allow the serendipitous spirit of spontaneity into my world. I fully recognize that it’s possible to get stuck even in good routines. The routines that work now may not be as productive next week. Dreams and desires are ever-changing, so as you continue to grow and stretch yourself, your routines and rituals will grow and stretch as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 FINISH STRONG   

2013 is fast heading into the rear-view mirror.  2014 is on the horizon. Most people are anxious and maybe slightly depressed at the way 2013 has panned out for them. What you DON’T need to do is beat yourself up for goals you didn’t yet accomplish. You’ve got plenty of other people who are happy to do that for you.  It doesn’t serve you to belittle or berate yourself for not accomplishing everything you set out to do.  In fact, if you did accomplish all of your goals for 2013, I could argue that you may have set them too low.

If you are like me, then each year you set many bold, daring and challenging goals.  In fact, the goals I set for a year are usually so audacious. But by setting the bar so high, I end up achieving great things – even if I only accomplish 60% of what I set out to do.

So don’t go negative.  Celebrate the progress you have made, and set your plan for what you can still accomplish by year’s end.  Then get to work today there is still plenty of time in the year to finish strong.

1. Acknowledge. You’re not the same person you were in January and you are not yet the person you are going to be in December. Take a look at the goals, resolutions, or intentions you had in January. Make sure they are still a good fit for where your life is now, and where you are headed. Eliminate anything that you adopted to please someone else, or because you thought you should. The hardest goals to achieve are the ones that were never really yours to begin with. Don’t hesitate to change course! I totally do not understand the social stigma associated with saying “I changed my mind”. To me, that statement means you’re thinking rather than blindly, numbly staying the course.

2. Forgive yourself. Once you acknowledge where you are and what’s not working, you’re all about moving on.  If you haven’t made the progress you intended so far in 2012, admit to yourself that you messed up, and then give yourself another shot.  No drama.

3. Stop sitting and get going. At this point in the year, stay fully cognisant of Isaac Newton’s wisdom: “An object at rest tends to stay at rest; an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” As you reassess your year’s goals, do not get frozen into a state of analysis paralysis. It’s often more productive to make a move, in any direction, even a wrong one.