Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Target Practice

My brother is a doctor, and one of the things he went through, while still in residency, to prepare him for life in the ever-changing Emergency Room, was “Target Practice.”  They brought him and his group of physicians out to a big field, and showed them a variety of guns and bullets.  When he recounted the story to me, I learned that he had become a quick expert on all of the different kinds, and thoroughly enjoyed himself and this new experience!
One thing that seems obvious to most of us is that when you see someone practice shooting a gun, a bow and arrow, or anything else, there’s always a target in front of them to aim for.  Whether it’s a coke can placed on a fence, (like in the movies), or a big red and white target placed yards ahead of you, there’s always something to shoot for.  Your personal finances work the exact same way.  Spending time to develop “targets” that you’re aiming for, will help you to reach your goals and ultimately accomplish more financially than you could ever imagine.
So how do you set goals?  Here’s a few ways to get started:

1.     Get everyone on board – Achieving financial goals means that everyone needs to be on the same page.  You can’t ask someone to forego that starbucks coffee, unless they understand a need for it.  Everyone needs to have a say, and understand the importance of achieving those goals.

2.     Punch List – Sit down and develop punch list of all of the things you want to attain in the years and months ahead.  Make sure that they are reachable goals – not too far in the distance, and have monetary sums written next to them.  Example: We need $12,000 to buy that car, or we need $2,000 to buy a new dining room table and chairs.  List out several goals that you’re shooting for, and then assign them numbers, in the order in which you plan to purchase them/order of importance.

3.     Post them – Place your goal list up somewhere, where you’ll see it daily.  If it’s in front of you, chances are, you’ll accomplish them faster than you think!  Studies show that when you write your goals down and post them where you can see them, you’re 80% more likely to achieve them – so tape them up!

4.     Stick to them – Once you’ve determined your goals, the biggest temptation you’ll have is to continue your current spending habits.  “Begin with the end in mind” meaning that you need to start your day remembering your financial goals, and live out your day saving as much as you can towards those goals.  Remember, start small, determining to just save $1.00 a day, but I think you’ll be surprised how much and how quickly your “goal money” adds up!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Defeating Excuses

Let’s get honest for a moment… There are a thousand and one excuses we can conjure up to not get into shape.  A light, drizzly rain lends itself as an excuse not to run.  A houseguest seems like a good reason to not get in your morning workout.  A heavy workload becomes the catalyst to a lack of physical activity at home.  The list can go on and on forever.  The best defense against such reasonable sounding excuses is one thing – Consistency.

When you are consistent in your healthy habits, your excuses begin to fade.  Let me explain.  People are naturally given to routines.  We like things to go in a reasonably predictable pattern with each day.  Even the most spontaneous person likes to have certain things they can count on each day.  As exercise and healthy habits make their way into our routines, we like them to stay there.  Excuses don’t seem to hold the same value they once had when health becomes a habit.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend that has gotten into the habit of running.  He confessed that adding running to his routine was difficult at first.  Several months later he said, “It is like a drug.  You really want to do it.”  Stories like my friend's abound when people find something they enjoy doing and make it a part of their weekly or daily routine.

So how to you build consistency?  Here are a few steps to get you there:

1. Find the Time.  Figure out a 30-minute window that you can devote toward a healthy habit.  It should be at least three days a week in order to begin seeing results.  (You can start with more time and more days if you would like.)*

2. Establish Your Consistency Goal.  Mark a date 60 to 90 days away on the calendar.  Your goal is to be consistent in your healthy habit for the duration of this time.  Remember, putting it on the calendar will not get you there.  You have to make the decision daily to go for it!

3. Tell Somebody.  Announce your consistency goal to a spouse, family member, or friend.  Tell the that you need them to ask you at the close of each week whether or not your completed your consistency goal.  The accountability will motivate your all the more.

Start building consistency today!  The result will be reduced excuses and a healthier you.

* - If you are considering a rigorous physical exercise plan you should want to consult someone with medical expertise in order to make sure that you do not risk injury.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


You are on a busy interstate, traveling at 70+ miles per hour.  Ahead you see a slower car, so you decide to pass it.  You may glance in the mirror before beginning the shift into another lane to make the pass.  As you cross the dotted line, you hear the loud blaring of a horn.  Within a millisecond, you realize your vehicle is within inches of colliding with another car.  You jerk your car back into your original lane.  You blurt out a yelp or a word that expresses your anxiety.

Thoughts race through your mind… “Where did that car come from?”  “How did I miss that?”  You have just been the victim of a blindspot.  Almost every car has one.  The mirrors in your car are situated to give you 90% coverage of what is happening around your vehicle, but there are some spaces that you are not able to readily see in a glance.  Therefore, each car has blindspots, but this principle applies to more than driving.

In life, we all have blindspots.  No matter the kind of deep introspection we build into our lives, we still have them.  They exist in personality, relationships, work environments, and in many other arenas.  Just like in your car, they are hard to see in the mirror. Here is the essential truth of a blindspot: if someone else doesn’t bring it to our attention, we may never know it exists.

It is for this reason we find ourselves in negative situations we never saw coming.  We clash with other personalities in a moment and wonder how did we get to this place?  An argument flares seemingly out of nowhere and we think where did that come from?  Most of the time these instances are derived from blindspots that each of us has.

In order to avoid wrecking, we have to learn to respond to the blindspots as others bring them to our attention.  As you respond, remember…

1. Don’t Blame. When you cast blame for your blindspots on others you are inevitably communicating to others that you are not responsible for your own behaviors and actions.  The buck for your behavior stops with you.  Own it and learn from it.

2. Don’t Lash Out. If people cannot talk with you about your blindspots without of your temper flaring, they will stop pointing out these potential harmful areas.  Remember, if someone else doesn’t bring it to your attention, you may never know you have a blindspot.  Learn to receive the wisdom of others as they point out issues in your life.

3. Surround Yourself With Honest People That Love You.  Each of us needs someone in our corner who loves us.  These people must also be honest enough to speak the truth in love to us if we are going to change for the better.  Seek out honest, loving mentors and friends.

Don’t drive through life teetering on disaster.  Make sure that you have others who can point out your blindspots.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leadership Earned vs. Leadership Owed

Over the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to spend some time with our local high school football team. They are good. They may even be great. Some predict them to go deep into the state play-offs. This team could go all the way to a championship. At that level of play, there are some tough decisions that have to be made about who dresses for the game day. The team cannot afford to play politics with players and parents.

Winning teams are about more than equal playing time. The coaches need the best overall player in each position to emerge victorious in every game. They have to be about more than just playing those who show up for spring training. These teams have to identify the hardest working, most dedicated, talented players to put on the field.

Leadership is much the same. It is not reserved for those who simply show up. Some think that due to their time in the organization, they are owed the mantel of leadership. Tenure is not insurance of good leadership, only experience. While experience can be helpful, it is only part of the equation when it comes to leadership.

Leadership is not an entitlement. No one owes you the right to lead. When choosing a leader devolves into simply getting “the next guy in line” the organization, program, ministry, or business fails. They fail to strive for greatness because they are forced into a system to leans toward perpetuating the status quo.

So how does one earn leadership? There are a number of ways, but here are a few pointers to get started…

1. Sharpen Your Abilities as a Leader. Most people have leadership potential. Few take the time and effort to grow their potential into performance. Take time to read good leadership books, find a strong mentor, and learn from the lives of leaders you respect. These kinds of things help you go further, faster in moving from high potential to high performance.

2. Do The Work. If you cannot be counted upon to complete the workload that you already own, how could you be entrusted with a greater level of responsibility? Take the tasks you are given seriously. Go above and beyond. Don’t settle for less than your best effort. This gains the attention of decision makers and is counted valuable when leadership is assigned.

3. Care For People. Leadership will always involve people. If you don’t like people, you are going to be forever stunted in your leadership growth. Take the time to build positive energy and loyalty among your team members. Add value to others. When you do so, you stand out in people’s minds as a great leader.

There is so much more that could be written here on the topic of earning leadership. The important realization for all of us to remember is that leadership is earned, not owed. What can you do today to begin earning the right to lead?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Are you running out of gas?

Have you ever run out of gas in your car?  I mean, not running low, not watching the red indicator sit on the “E”, but actually watched your car completely stop, or not even start due to the fact that there isn’t any gas in your tank?  I have, and boy it’s a pain!  It takes forever to find someone to come and pick you up, in order to take you to the gas station, where you can then purchase a gas can (because who just carries those around with them?), fill that with gas, and then head back to your poor car who is dying of fuel thirst!  You then fill up your tank and have to head BACK to the gas station to return the gas can and fill up your car the rest of the way with fuel.  I’ve only personally run completely out of gas once in my life, and in my efforts to save time and hurry on to my “next thing” I ended up adding about an hour to my packed schedule, when having to deal with my poor gasoline judgment!

If you think about it, our own lives are really this way.  If we wait until our tank is completely on empty, then we’ll stop dead in our tracks and require extra time to regain fuel so that we can continue on again.

One of the best strategies that anyone ever shared with me, in regards to my own personal development, was the importance of “Margin Time.”  Margin Time is time that you factor into your daily routine, scheduling yourself with time to do whatever you’d like to do in order to unwind and regenerate yourself.  It’s usually not very much time, but may be 15-30 minutes factored into your day where you can sit down and read a book, catch the show you’ve been waiting to see, go for a walk, or even take a nap.  Margin Time is time that is necessary, and therefore cannot be scheduled over or replaced with your “super busy to-do list.”  It’s time in your day for you to rest, refill, and keep yourself from becoming weary and exhausted. 

I’ve found that if I can schedule regular time, each day, to “refuel” myself, then I rarely find myself running on empty, completely unable to continue.

Are you running on empty and watching the “fumes” exit from behind you?  Go ahead and work in some Margin Time into your day, today.  I promise that you’ll be glad that you did.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Making money without clocking in

I think that I’ve told you before that for this time in my life, I’m a “career mom” meaning that I stay home and commit to serve as a mom and a wife day-in and day-out.  We can talk specifics about how busy that keeps me later, but for today’s post I want to talk to you about some tricks to make money without “clocking-in” to an office of sorts.
One of the very best things I learned, years ago, was the value of using coupons to make purchases.  Over the years my commitment to using these coupons has varied, depending upon the time I had to commit, but the truth still remains that purchasing items with coupons is FAR better than buying them without!  Just to give you a picture of what that means for our home….I have NEVER purchased a tube of toothpaste, since we were married.  NEVER.  With the help of a little, flimsy piece of paper that I cut out of Sunday’s paper, I always get toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, and several other “regularly purchased items,” completely free.

Yes, I will admit that it takes time to match up coupons with the store deals for the week, but the truth is that if you can carve out just a little bit of time a week, you’ll save yourself hundreds…. sometimes even THOUSANDS of dollars a year.

I’ll work on giving you some quick couponing tips in the weeks to come, but today, let’s start simple, with a tool many of you probably have already heard of: Swagbucks.  Between diapers, wipes, baby food, books, and even toilet paper, our family orders items from Amazon.com on a regular basis!  Swagbucks has allowed us to save TONS of money on our purchases, by providing me with MANY $5.00 Amazon gift cards.  My husband is still a skeptic, so I won’t judge you if you too, don’t experience the value or ease of Swagbucks, but for those of you who are like me, you’ll become almost giddy at the fact that you earn money for free!  Here’s how it works.

Swagbucks is a search engine like Google.  Every time I search anything online, I use it.  Then, you earn Swagbucks occasionally as you search.  (I say occasionally, because I still can’t figure out a rhyme or reason Swagbucks are awarded.)  With those bucks, you can buy things in the Swagstore.  As I mentioned above, my favorite item to buy is a $5.00 Amazon Gift Card, but there’s all kinds of GC’s to earn including Southwest Airlines and even Apple!  It’s getting FREE money for searching!
If you haven’t signed up already, click here to sign up and start earning!  Just think: if you start now, you could have enough gift cards to pay for many (or maybe ALL) of your Christmas gifts!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Worst Excuse Ever!

“I would work out, but what is the point?  I could get all healthy and then get hit by a bus or struck by lightning and die.  Then I would have wasted a lot of time and effort on nothing.”

As a friend recently said these words to me I tried to brush it off with an uneasy laugh, but something about that attitude kept gnawing at me.  We had been talking about getting in shape and developing an exercise routine.  It was a casual conversation.  I was not trying to convince him to buy into an exercise plan or gym membership.  We were simply talking about the value of personal fitness. 

When his callous attitude toward health was finally revealed, I realized that for many people (including myself in past) there is a pessimistic view of the value of personal fitness.  It boils down to a basic excuse for not working out… “Why get in shape?  We all die anyways.”  In a twisted way it appears to be a logical reason to not put in the effort, but here are three responses to that kind of thinking.

1. Fitness Improves Life.  One of the benefits of being physically fit is not just a greater likelihood of having a prolonged life, but a better one.  I’ve spent a great deal of time with elderly people through a variety of experiences.  It has taught me much about life.  One thing I have learned is that improved physical fitness keeps you feeling young.  For this reason, I have encountered fit people in their 70’s and 80’s that had more stamina than many unfit people have in their 40’s and 50’s.  Fitness improves life.

2. Fitness Plans for A Brighter Future.  It is truly a pessimistic view to believe that you are destined to die early.  When you embrace a higher level of personal wellness through exercise and a healthy diet, you are shooting for a more optimistic view of life.  You are planning for a brighter, longer future to be shared with kids, grand-kids, and possibly even more family generations to come.

3. Fitness Helps You Take Hold of Manageable Elements of Life.  There are all kinds of intangibles that are beyond our control.  Disease, disaster, and tragedy are most often unplanned and unforeseen.  However, there is a lot that we can control in this life.  Our level of activity, diet, and exercise are among those controlled factors.  When you are fit you are taking hold of the manageable elements of life.  When I am lying on my death bed, I don’t want it to be my own poor choices that put me there.  As far as I am able, I’m striving to make the most out of the life God has given me.

No more excuses… especially not silly one’s that sound a whole lot like “but I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.”  Look both ways before you cross the street.  Strive to be fit for a better, longer life.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Playtime with a Purpose

Do you remember watching Mary Poppins as a kid?  Remember the scene where Mary walks in to find the trashed playroom, and tells the Banks children it’s time to “tidy up the nursery.”  She goes around snapping her fingers and singing, merging the dreaded “clean-up time” with a super-fun “playtime!”  Making every second of fun, have an element of purpose in it, Mary Poppins inspired me many years ago.

One of my favorite parts of now serving as a stay-at-home-mom means that I get to play with my son all day long!  His smiles and giggles bring me great delight, and being able to watch him grow up and change each day has been one of the greatest privileges I’ve been given!  However, I have been compelled to adopt the philosophy of “playtime with a purpose.” Each day is focused, and I pray that as Caleb’s little brain is taking in everything around him, perhaps he’s even grasping some of the things I’m trying to teach him day after day. 

I’ve established that each day, in our home, has a theme, or a focus, and I try hard to make sure that every aspect of the day revolves around that focus.  For example, the other day, we focused on learning about Jonah.  That meant that we ate goldfish crackers for a snack, played in his kiddie pool outside, talking about big fish in the ocean while Caleb “swam around”.  We read the story of Jonah in the bible several times throughout the day (My son is a big-time reader!), and I even dressed him in a shirt with a big whale on it.

I know that you may be thinking, Beth, I have WAY surpassed the “baby phase”, or not even come close to that stage…. how does this help me?  Well, here’s what I believe about “playtime with a purpose” and how everyone can adopt this strategy.

Each morning, it’s important to focus your day on something: hence why it’s incredibly important to spend time with the Lord in the morning, with efforts of syncing your day into His lifestyle choices.  Whether it’s reading a quick few verses of scripture and devotional as you run out the door, or working through a bible study, riding on the bus on the way to school, spending time with the Lord each day is crucial to making your life purposeful.  So, start there.

Then, based upon what you learned, use that focus, to direct your day.  So, if you read about trusting in the Lord that morning, then as different challenges and conversations come your way, approach them with an attitude of trusting the Lord to provide you with wisdom and understanding to handle those things making your daily routine, and your “playtime”…. purposeful!

You may not have to blow up your kiddie pool in the backyard, and jump in and out of it to keep your days full of purpose.  Instead, why don’t you take your already busy schedules and choose to make them focused on what was established for you in your time with the Lord each morning!  Caleb and I will do it today….will you commit to do the same?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ladybugs running a dishwasher

I remember sitting in the front row of church the first time that I heard this ridiculous phrase, “Think of lady bugs running a dishwasher.”  It was the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.  I was attending via simulcast in south Florida.  Dr. Steve Sample of the University of Southern California was speaking in an interview about being creative.  He told the audience of thousands of young leaders that when he or his team hit a creative impasse, he would challenge them to think of how lady bugs would run a dishwasher.

The thought was absurd.  In fact, it bordered on insanity.  How could something so wildly outside the boundaries of conventional wisdom be considered in a serious conversation?  That was the point.

For Dr. Sample, when his team could not reconcile an issue through common problem solving tactics, he had to challenge them to think outside the norm.  The idea was to get his team thinking beyond the confines of what they had tried before.  Often, this resulted in a solution that had never been discovered before.  This created innovation and brought them to the cutting edge of leadership. 

There are hundreds of problems that we come to as leaders everyday. Some are quickly solved through experience.  However, some are so big that we consider to them to be beyond fixing.  As a leader, it can be easy do your best to work in spite of these problems rather than thinking of ways to attack them creatively.  Here’s the challenge, think of lady bugs running a dishwasher.  Think of solutions to the problem that are so far beyond the boundaries normal that they just might work. 

Once you are “outside the box” search for the solution that fits.  It may be a risk, but if you plan it just right and get the right people on board the possibilities are endless.  Creativity is the missing ingredient of the stagnant team.  Think beyond the norm and discover the innovation that you can use to lead your people to the next level.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to use what you read

Guest Post written by Dr. Mike Landry

Have you ever read a book and made a mental note to yourself that you want to be sure to remember a point for future use?  And, by the time you finished the book you had already forgotten what that point was?  Or what about that really good book you read a couple months ago…or even a couple years ago?  How in the world are you suppose to remember what you read; much less use and apply the many things you learn long after you read it?  And the more books you read, the harder it is to remember.

            I’ve got just the tip for you.  Years ago, I heard leadership guru, John Maxwell, say that he would immediately write in the back cover of the book he was reading the page number and theme of something that he wanted to be sure to remember.  I tried it and it really works.  Ever since that time I’ve been filling up the back covers, and sometimes more, with my notes and it has made a huge difference.  I’m able to refer to them years later.

            For example, back in 2005, I read The Three Success Secrets of Shamgar by Pat Williams and Jay Strack.  I can remember that the book drew success principles from the life of an obscure biblical character named Shamgar.  But what were those 3 important success secrets?  I can’t remember.  And what else did I think was important for me to use later?  It’s time to turn to the back cover page.

            I immediately spot the 3 success secrets that I jotted down (1.  Start where I am.   2.  Use what I have.   3.  Do what I can.)  Also, I notice a list of the 7 resources that everyone has to offer on pages 91-116.  In addition, there is a great quote on education by Einstein on page 100.  These and many other items are noted there.  Reading over the list is like scanning the book and highlighting the best parts in 30 seconds or less.  What a time saver and productivity prompter.

            Try it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Mike Landry is the Senior Pastor of Sarasota Baptist Church and one of the most effective communicators in our nation today.  See more about him and his church by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The best places to "hide" your money!

Years ago the wisest way to keep your money safe was by burying it in a can somewhere hidden in your house, or perhaps underneath your mattress.  (If your money is currently stowed away between your mattress and boxed spring, I’ll wait for you to go get it out and vow to put it in the bank before reading on.  Go ahead…. I’ll wait.) J
My grandfather was notorious for storing his money (specifically coins) in random places within his home.  I vividly remember being a little girl, and watching him store quarters in his prescription medication bottles in his kitchen.  It was like a treasure hunt, looking through his cabinets and drawers!

After working for a bank myself, I’m far from fearful of the banking industry.  I watched, as money was sheltered while people underwent fires within their homes, robberies, and even unfortunately family deaths.  When everything around them seemed to crumble, at least they didn’t have to be concerned with their money disappearing as well.  I could get them a new debit card, but unfortunately couldn’t replace the cash that was lost.

I understand that in our current economic situation, there is reason for special care, when it comes to placing your money into a financial institution, but I also believe that in order to be a good steward of your money, it is important to do research and find ways to make your money work for you, rather than remain hidden under a mattress.  Here are 2 suggestions, to make your money work for you:

1. High Interest Bearing Accounts – Unfortunately, the standard interest rate for checking and savings accounts are .05% at best.  However, if you look hard enough, there are some accounts that will offer you high interest rates, without mandating an exorbitant amount of fees and restrictions.  One example that we currently use is the CapitalOne Savings account, which offers a 1.1% Interest rate and a quarterly bonus, if you maintain a certain amount in the account.  There are no minimum balances, and no hidden fees associated with the account.   That means that if you needed the money fast, you could get it, and not have to worry about fees that will come with taking out your money! It’s worked well for us, and it may be a good fit for you.  Check it out for yourself, by clicking here.
*FYI - I’ve heard that ING offers a similar deal, if you’re interested!

2. Saving without realizing it – There are a few banks (such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America) that offer you accounts, which are designed to save your money without realizing it.  An example of this is the Way2Save account at Wells Fargo.  Each time you swipe a debit card that is linked to your checking account you’ll have 1 dollar transferred from your checking account into your Way2Save savings account.  That means that if you go to the grocery store, rent a redbox movie, and grab Chinese take-out for dinner on the way home from work, (paying 3 different times with your debit card), you’ll have $3.00 transferred automatically from your checking account into your Way2Save account.  That money will receive a 3.0% interest rate on it.  Bank of America offers another type of account called “Keep the Change” where the remaining “change” from your transaction, rounding up the figure to an even dollar, is deposited into a savings account.  The money you earn on this “savings” during the first 3 months will be matched 100%.
Please keep in mind, for both of these examples that there are some balance restrictions, so make sure you look into that before opening up these accounts!

If you have more, please let us know by emailing us at navigatingtherope@gmail.com or commenting below!  We’d love to share your ideas with others!

Monday, August 8, 2011

You Gotta Love It

For years, I struggled to stay motivated in a consistent exercise routine. That was until Beth and I befriended Spencer and Jana Shugart.  They were runners and asked us to go for a jog one morning.  At the time, I had not run more than a mile… ever.  Questioning whether or not I would enjoy the experience we agreed to meet them early for a run and then grab breakfast afterward.  On that morning, we met at their home and set out on a slow, but even jog for more than a mile, but less than two.  At the end of the run I was winded, but exhilarated.  Over the next several months I discovered the enjoyment of running.  Today, it is the activity I do most to stay in shape. 

You may read that and think that I am crazy to actually get enjoyment from running (you are probably right).  However, there is a deeper principle here.  I discovered something that I enjoy doing and it provided the necessary motivation to get me into an exercise routine.  Often, people struggle with getting in shape because they are forcing themselves to do something they hate.  You may be intimidated by lifting weights, so it is no small wonder that you never make it to the weight room.  You may despise running, so it makes sense that you hate lacing up your shoes and going for a jog. 

One of the best motivators for exercise is enjoyment.  You’ve got to discover something that you personally enjoy. 
·      It could be an old sport that you played in high school.  You may be able to find a Rec League and begin playing your way to a healthier you. 
·      It could be something outside the norm.  I know a number of people that dropped a few pounds taking some salsa dance classes. 
·      It could be quality time spent with others.  You may just need an exercise companion that you enjoy spending time with.

Whatever the case may be, you have to find some enjoyment out of your exercise routine or you will struggle to stay motivated.  Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you are looking for something you enjoy…

1. Your Heart Rate Should Increase.  You have to enjoy what you are doing, but it should still be considered physically active.  Just because something is called a sport, doesn’t mean that you can get in better shape doing it.  Find something that you love that gets your heart rate up.

2. Competition is a Good Thing.  Many people are often surprised at how much they enjoy competing in a physical way.  Whether it is against another person, another team, or just your last personal best, competition often drives enjoyment.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things.  There may be something that you have never considered doing, but have always been interested in.  Give it a shot!  You may have to try a number of different things in order to discover something you love to do.

You’ve gotta love it if you are going to be consistent.  Begin searching for something you love doing that will help you become healthier today!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Do Something Outrageous!

Let’s face it, even the healthiest of marriages can get in a rut.  Routine, while helpful, can work to slowly disengage you from really expressing your love and appreciation for your spouse.  So here is a suggestion - Do something outrageous.  Plan something that is out of the ordinary.  It may be a spur of the moment trip.  It could be revisiting an old date spot you haven’t been to in years.  It could be dressing up for a candle lit dinner on a Tuesday night in your own home while the neighbors watch the kids.  Do something different.

A few things to consider when you are planning on going out-of-the-box...

1. Be spontaneous, but not uncomfortable.  You know your spouse’s threshold for change.  Do something that will be fun for them, not uncomfortable.

2. Decide to surprise or not surprise.  Your spouse may love surprises or hate them.  If they hate surprises, then you may need to plan your spontaneity.  It may seem a bit odd, but planning the surprise could save you some awkwardness.

3. Choose something the your spouse loves or could love to do. Doing something outrageous is not about you.  It is about who you are married to.  Plan something you really think they will enjoy.

4. Be flexible. If you planned something out and then your spouse has a terrible workday or troubles all day long with the kids, be willing and open to reschedule.  Forcing fun when the mood isn’t right can be frustrating.

5. Express Your Love and Appreciation.  At some point, let your spouse know that you put this together so that you could show them your love and appreciation.  They should know that you did this for them because of you care for them on a level that no one else does.

So what are you waiting for?  Begin brainstorming and plan something outrageous to show your love for your spouse!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

One Question to consider before Confronting

If you are on a team, sooner or later you will come up against an issue that needs to be confronted.  A team member may have thrown you under the bus in a meeting.  Someone may have passed the buck your way.  The credit for a team win may have gone to the team member with least input.  There are a thousand different scenarios that play out in organizations each day that have the potential for confrontation. 

Before you exit your office for that crucial conversation, consider the following question…

Is this about personal pride or potential productivity for the overall organization?

At times, these two categories can seem like one in the same.  However, when you examine your motives closely you are often likely to figure out which label is a better fit. 

A lot of time is spent confronting people out of personal pride.  You were called out in front of others, your pride was hurt, and now you are ready to confront.  Even though your pride may be injured, consider the truth in the offense.  Was the other person right?  If they were right, then no matter if your feelings were hurt or not, you were wrong.  Don’t confront the other person.  Look at your own performance.  Get past the emotion.  Grow from the experience.  Determine to never put yourself in that position again.

If potential productivity is at stake, then you have a reason to confront.  If the issue is larger than you, but effects the organization and its ability to accomplish the mission then it needs to be addressed.  When you go about confronting the other person speak in terms of the organization, not personal offense.  This will cause your words to carry more weight for the person hearing them.

You are going to be offended if you are a leader.  Whether or not you should respond to the offense is a matter of pride vs. productivity.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Birthday Challenge

Everybody sets personal goals.  Many people choose to do it on January 1st with the rest of the world.  For most, by the time February 1st rolls around, those goals are long forgotten in a sea of busyness.  It is all too easy to give up on your goal when you see the rest of the world do fall short of their goals all around you.  Everybody sets personal goals… few people achieve them.  This is because goal setting is more than just an idea conjured up in the heart of a momentarily inspired person.  Goal setting is about planning, action, and accountability.  If you struggle to reach your personal goals, maybe it is time for a new approach.  Try the Birthday Challenge.

Here is how it works.  As you approach your next birthday, think of one or a hand-full of things you really want to accomplish in the next 365 days of your life.  It could be weight-loss.  Maybe it is writing that book that you have thought about.  Perhaps it could be centered on your relationship with your immediate family members.  Create in your mind a vision of where you would like to realistically be in 365 days.

Then think about what steps you are going to have to take each day in the next 365 days to get there.  Figure out the daily or weekly time required to make your vision become a reality.  Will it take 30 minutes, each day on Monday through Friday?  Is this something that you will need to devote minutes or hours to?  Once you have thought this through, begin charting how you are going to fit those precious goal-achieving moments into your schedule.

Here is what makes this “The Birthday Challenge”.  Normally, birthdays are a time to celebrate with those closest to you.  You may have dinner with your spouse, get together with your kids from out of town, or have a lunch with friends.  As you get together with loved ones, it is time for you to unveil the goal that you have set and your plan to get there.  In doing so here is what you will create for yourself…

1. Accountability – Those closest to you will hear your goal.  Because they love you and are closer to you than anyone else, they are the best person to hold you accountable.  365 days is a long time and you will need their encouragement and motivation to keep going.

2. A Starting Line – Have you ever said, “I’ll start tomorrow.” By setting a goal tied to your birthday, you are giving yourself a memorable starting date that you can chart your progress from.  This way, 30, 75, 150 days into your journey, you can see how far you have come.

3. A Deadline – By announcing your goal on your birthday, you are starting the clock.  It will expire in 365 days.  Therefore you now have a deadline to work towards.  If your goals are not time-sensitive, it can take an eternity to complete them (if you ever get around to it).

Maybe your birthday is just around the corner.  Maybe it is still a ways off.  It’s not too early to begin planning for your goal.  Who knows? It could lead you into one of the best years of your life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stop throwing your money away!

Banks are a great way to save your money, and even, on occasion, make more while your money is sitting there.  I’m a big fan of some of the high-interest yielding accounts available to the average consumer today, and can confidently say that we have made hundreds of dollars on our money in the past few years, simply by using these accounts and gaining interest on our money.  More on specific interest gaining strategies, in weeks to come!

One thing that astounded me, while working for the banking industry, however, was the amount of money that people threw away.  Through overdraft charges, and general account fees, I watched as HUNDREDS of dollars were wasted within their accounts year after year.  Here’s what I learned, and hopefully, if you find yourself in this same money-wasting situation, these 3 tips can help you stop throwing your money away!

1.    FREE Checking Account – A free checking account should mean what it says: “FREE.”  That means, that when you’re looking for an account to place your money in, make sure that there aren’t any start-up costs, or other fees.  Pay special attention to the number of transactions you’re allowed with your account.  (Hopefully, unlimited!).  Also pay attention to any minimum balance required of your account.  It’s your checking account, so remove the pressure of keeping money there…. make sure that there is a ZERO minimum balance.

2.   Watch closely at your “Savings” account specifics.  If there is a minimum balance required (and most savings accounts do have one), be sure it’s one you can maintain.  Otherwise, don’t have a savings account.  I think a lot of people like to have a separate account that they can call their “Savings Account”, but unfortunately if the bank is steadily removing $5.00 a month from your account because you’re not maintaining the “$300 minimum”, it is no longer helping you “save” but instead “loose” money.  An option for you (if you find yourself in this situation) is to open 2 separate FREE checking accounts.  Then, in your mind, hold one as a “savings” which you do not pull money out of unless it is an emergency but instead try to steadily put money into, and use the other as your average “Checking” account.  Make sure to talk to your bank to ask about this option.

3.   Interest rate shopping – Interest rates are poor, at best, right now.  HOWEVER…keep shopping!  Although you’re probably not going to find that account holding a 10% APY, if you look hard enough you may be surprised at what is available.  CD’s probably aren’t your wisest options right now, because the interest rates are not really competitive considering the amount of time your money is locked up, however there are some options available to you that will earn you some money, while we all wait for the market to rebound.  Just be sure to shop around, and don’t be afraid to make a few phone calls.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is Breakfast really so important??

I’ve heard, all of my life, that “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  You hear that eating breakfast helps you perform better, loose weight faster, and feel better overall.  In fact, while doing a little research on Webmd.com this morning, I found the following, which actually links obesity to not eating breakfast.

“Some people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, but the practice is more likely to cause weight gain than weight loss. Skipping breakfast is strongly linked to the development of obesity. Studies show that overweight and obese children, adolescents, and adults are less likely to break the fast each morning than their thinner counterparts. According to research, skipping meals, especially breakfast, can actually make weight control more difficult. Breakfast skippers tend to eat more food than usual at the next meal or nibble on high-calorie snacks to stave off hunger. Several studies suggest that people tend to accumulate more body fat when they eat fewer, larger meals than when they eat the same number of calories in smaller, more frequent meals. To teens, especially teenage girls, skipping breakfast may seem like a perfectly logical way to cut down on calories and lose weight. It's important for moms to educate their kids about the importance of the morning meal and the role it plays in maintaining good health and preventing obesity.”

So there it is, folks!  Breakfast is incredibly important.  Now we know it, but putting it into practice is a completely different challenge!  I’m not sure about your home, but in our home, breakfast has become a cup of coffee and the occasional granola bar, while we’re walking out the door.  It just seems that no matter how hard we try to get everything ready the night before, mornings always seem to fly by, leaving no time to heat up that oatmeal, or cook those eggs on the stove.  Well, recently in our home, we’ve found a solution that works for us.

Once every 3-4 weeks, or so, I have a “breakfast-making-day” where I make several breakfast burritos and biscuits to store in our freezer.  When I came across the recipe, several weeks ago, I was skeptical at best at the way that they would taste.  However, having recently resolved to try and help our family eat better, I gave it a try and WOW!  I’m so glad I did!
I’ve listed the recipe for you, that got me started on all of this below, if you’re interested in trying it out, but I’ve made several adjustments to the recipe, and made it work for our family. Here’s the basic idea.

Breakfast Burritos:

-       Scramble 12-18 eggs on the stove.  (Stir them first in a bowl, and mix in some milk, salt and pepper.)
-       While the eggs are cooking, go ahead and cut up a package of thawed, turkey bacon, width-wise, creating little pieces. 
-       Cook those pieces on the stove, SLOWLY, until they are cooked through, and the way you like it.  (In our home, we like them crisp!)
-       Once everything is finished cooking, bring it to an open workspace, where you will compile your burritos.  Make sure to bring tin foil (cut into small pieces), paper towels, sharp cheddar cheese, and your eggs and bacon.
-       Place a piece of foil down, and then top it with a paper towel.  Place the tortilla down, and put the cheese, eggs, and bacon in the middle and roll up the tortilla.  Then, roll the tortilla in the paper towel, and then in the tin foil.  Repeat this step until you have created all of your burritos, and used all of your ingredients.
-       Place the foil-covered burritos in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and place them into your freezer!

Now, when you’re ready to have a breakfast burrito, you simply put one out of your freezer, TAKE OFF THE FOIL, and place the burrito (still covered with a paper towel) in the microwave for 1 minute, 30 seconds.  Remove the paper towel and head out the door!

Breakfast Biscuits:
-       This recipe is basically a repeat of the one above, with the following differences.
o   Use a package of frozen Pillsbury Biscuits, rather than the tortillas.  They will need to be baked in your oven before assembling your biscuits.  (Bake them while you’re cooking your bacon!)
o   Rather than cutting the bacon into pieces, cook the entire strip.  (Approx. 1 strip per biscuit).
o   Rather than scrambling the eggs, crack an egg into a large coffee cup.  Stir it around in the cup, breaking it up, and add a splash of milk, and a small amount of salt and pepper for taste.  Place it in your microwave for 45-55 seconds until cooked.  (You may have to try it out a few times, to find the perfect time for your microwave.  It’s 51 seconds in our home!  There shouldn’t be any “popping!”)  Once it’s done cooking, use a knife to go around the edge of the egg and pull it out of the coffee cup!  Top it with the cheese to melt it!  A perfect size for a biscuit sandwich!
o   Make sure to wrap a paper towel, and a piece of foil around your biscuit and place it in a freezer-safe Ziploc!
o   ENJOY!

Here's the recipe that I got from moneysavingmom!

Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Burritos

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped green pepper
  • 18 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped ham
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 20 flour tortillas
Saute onions and green pepper in butter. Beat eggs and milk together and pour into the skillet with the onions and peppers.
Add the ham, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggs are set. Mix in cheese and let melt.
Scoop 1/2 cup egg mixture onto tortillas. Fold ends under and roll up. Freeze (see instructions below) or put all burritos in a baking dish, top with extra cheese (if you’d like) and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve with salsa.
Freezer Instructions:
Wrap burrito in a paper towel and then in a sheet of foil. Seal tightly and place in freezer bags. When bag is full, remove all air and seal. Freeze.
To serve: Remove foil and put paper-towel-wrapped burrito in microwave. Reheat for around one minute. Serve with salsa.