Why Gyms Have Contracts and Cable Companies Don’t

So it just hit me today why I had to get into a contract with the fitness center I am apart of, and I didn’t have to when I had the cable company come out to my apartment and hook me up (maybe some cable companies do have contracts but mine, thankfully, does not.)

More than likely the fitness center thinks at some point I will want out.

The cable company on the other hand doesn’t necessarily think that about me.

Because entertainment is always easier to stick with than running out of breath. 😉

But I’m really glad I had to get into that contract. It keeps me going. Because I know every month for the next long time I am going to be shelling out a good amount of money in order to be able to walk in those doors and use that treadmill and those machines. I’m in a contract. And that keeps me going.

Maybe we need contracts more often. With ourselves. About things we want to do or see accomplished. Because we all will want out at one point or another. Maybe we need to write one up and throw some kind of incentive in there for ourselves that if we do this then we’ll get that. Whatever it may be for whatever goal you want to meet. Because though it may be hard to stick with the reward will be well worth it.

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5 Keys to Staying Productive

It seems like the more I have on my plate the more productive I stay. It’s easy for me to hop from one thing to another and cross things off my list when there’s a lot to it. But when I have little to “do” I sometimes fall off the productivity grid because I have no outside force pushing me. But the crazy thing is that I’d actually rather stay productive doing my own thing rather than things other people put in front of me!

So the idea would be to be even more productive when I don’t have school or other things to do with getting things done that are important to me and will further my life for the better. So how do we do it?

1. Write it down. What do you want to accomplish? This is apart from finishing your homework or getting your oil changed. What is it that you want to take upon yourself to do or complete that will make your life or someone else’s life better? Get a clear picture of it and then take the time to write it down so you won’t forget. =)

2. Schedule out your day. One of the keys to staying productive even is to schedule your day (or even your week) even when it’s not scheduled for you! I’m not the expert here, but I want to get back into it because I’ve always felt the most fulfilled when I did. I sit down in the morning and write out what the next 24 hours will look like. Whether it’s the gym right after work or reading during lunch or making phone calls on my drive home. Whatever it is, I want to know how I am going to spend my non-renewable resource called time.

3. Stay involved. Those things you wrote down? Get into them and stay into them. Even if they are goals or things you’d like to do that will take several days or even weeks, don’t give up. Read them and think about them everyday. And actually DO something when you are scheduled to. This will keep you interested and keep your mind on the prize. If the goal is to weigh 10 lbs less and you are going to work out 4 times a week then don’t miss a workout! If you do, you’ll want to miss the next one too. 😉

4. Track progress. If you’re going to stay involved you might as well take the time to track your progress. Otherwise, you might feel like all that “involvement” is not paying off! Whatever it is you are working toward, track the progress you are making toward it. As you see yourself getting closer to the goal you’ll want to stick with it and see it to completion.

5. Cut out unnecessary time-consumers. Once again, I’m no expert here but I am realizing more than ever what an hour of TV watching could be. Or how I could grow even during a lunch break. The possibilities of using our time wisely are endless and so are the time-consumers! 😉 Choose what you want to spend your time on and then spend it on that. Simple, right? ha! I know other things try to cramp in on your time but the key is just to be protective of it.

What do you guys think? Do you have any other tips on staying productive?

How to Start Off and STAY on the Right Course

We all know the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” But really, it’s only the “right” kind of practice that makes perfect. I can practice wrong over and over and I’ll be, well, perfectly wrong.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

When we start off on a new goal, whether it’s a new career path, a new financial goal, a new way of living, a new relationship, trying to better a relationship, or just starting “life” out right in general, it’s imperative we not start off in the wrong direction. If we do start off wrong, we’ll have to back-track which leads to waste of time and other valuable resources.

So what do we do? How do we start off right?

1. Take your time and count the cost.
Don’t jump to a conclusion about where you’d like to be without giving it some time. Consider it much like a large purchase. A large purchase will take a significant amount of money. And a big “goal” will also require a significant amount of resources. It’s not something to decide on a whim. If you do, it will probably fade quickly cause you haven’t counted the cost.

2. Write it down.
Okay, I’m sure you’re tired of reading it but it’s so true. There is so much power in writing things down. First write down the goal or end-product you’d like to see and then take the time to write down  the specific steps it will take to get there. Those steps will probably be certain actions you need to take with due dates. This will give you a clear blueprint of how to get and stay on the right course all the way to the fulfillment of your dream.

3. Invite the help of others.
Start off right by having some support. And keep the support all the way through. Friends who hear your passion about something will help remind you when the passion is running dry later on.

4. Take frequent pit stops.
Some people say that if you ever take a break from working toward your goal you’ll give it up all together. I disagree. Sometimes you need to step back and take an honest look at the situation. Take a rest and look over your blueprint again and see the big picture. Find yourself in it and remind yourself why you’re working toward it. You’ll feel refreshed and energized and ready to get back to work to reaching it.

That’s just a few things I thought of on how to start and stay on course toward any kind of goal you’d like to reach.

What do you guys think? Any other tips on starting and staying on the right course?

The Point is Be YOU

This is almost a little bit of an embarrassing post. But I have something to confess…

But sometimes I do things just cause everyone else does them. And really, there’s nothing wrong with that in theory. If it’s working for others, then maybe it’s worth a shot! But it’s definitely not worth sticking with if it’s not working for YOU.

Cause the point is to be YOU. Not them. Maybe your mentor is awesome but you’re not supposed to be them. You’re supposed to be you. Seth Godin is cool and has a lot of good information but you’re not him and never will be. You’re you.

For example, I started drinking coffee because I thought it was cool. I saw people I wanted to be like drinking coffee so I picked up the habit. I didn’t particularly like the taste so I covered it up with cream and sugar. And then started buying cappuccinos and lattes and expensive drinks at Starbucks. Not because I needed it. But because I convinced myself I did. And who with any sense of style would buy a coffee drink from anywhere other than Starbucks??

Now that I have decided a few things about my own life (forgetting what others think about me) I’ve decided for the most part I’d rather sit at the bar in my kitchen with a glass of water (saving time and money. 😉

I also think it used to be cool to get little sleep and push myself to the max because that’s the only way you’d ever be productive (I’d heard that from someone “successful.”) But now I see that sleep and productivity actually go hand in hand (for me anyway.)

It’s always nice to look at other people who are where we’d like to be one day and then try to implement everything they do in their lives into our own. But more than likely we have an entirely different path to take. Learning from others is powerful. My last blog post was even on how Knowledge is Power, but there’s a fine line from learning from others and then trying to be others.

Find what works for you and run with it. Be open to making mistakes and be willing to give it a go again. You can be just as successful as the guy who pays $4 for his latte and stays up all night supposedly “working” if you really want to. It’s just up to you. =)

Creative Destruction

So I am taking my first college Economics course this term and am absolutely loving it. There are so many different economic theories and principles I have heard about and am now really beginning to understand. One of those is creative destruction.

Creative destruction is basically a theory about innovation and progress. In order to continue moving forward and truly create sometimes, if not always, it’s necessary to destroy something that was created in the past. When we make things better sometimes we have to make other things worse.

Creative Destruction in Action

Polaroid cameras. They were awesome at the time. And Mr. Polaroid or whoever invented it surely raked in some substantial profit. But since its invention someone else has invented an even better product that accomplishes the exact same thing: digital cameras. They have now taken over the market, and though Polaroid cameras are still around, they have, in a sense, been destroyed. Why? Because of creative destruction.

Yes, it’s sad. But it’s necessary to keep moving forward.

I think about my own life and where I need to exercise some creative destruction. What worked back then but needs to change now to be more efficient? And what do I use on a daily basis that I could exercise some “creative destruction” on to create something even better?

Sometimes we just settle for what works. Polaroid cameras worked just fine. But if we’ll spend a little bit of time thinking we can create something even better that will save time, energy, money and blow the past totally out of the water.

Have you exercise creative destruction lately? How’d you do it?

Savings Goals: Laptops vs White Boards

We all know what this is. You’re probably sitting at one right now. And it’s made all of our lives better. Right? The computer.

I do the majority of my financial stuff on a laptop connected to the internet. I use online banking to transfer money and check account balances. I use Google Docs to hold my budget, savings goals and deadlines, a list of regular bill amounts and due dates, and other financial information. It’s convenient, really. To pick up a small device and be able to access all of that information in a few minutes and make any changes necessary and then be on my merry way.

But I started getting frustrated a couple of weeks ago. I have an excel document that holds all of my savings goals for the next couple of years and then I have it outlined (basically) how I will reach those goals. It’s in detail for the year 2010 and in general for the following years. But for some reason looking at those on a screen was just not satisfying me–plus, there were a lot of “little” things I wanted to buy with cash that I didn’t put on there because they didn’t seem important enough.

And for the life of me I couldn’t get the spreadsheet to look just the way I wanted it to. Computers can only do so much, you know.

So what did I do? I pulled out the white board. I’m pretty sure I just THINK better when I have to hand-write instead of type.

Once I found a dry-erase marker I was at it. I could put things wherever I wanted, however I wanted and it was so easy to change. I know spreadsheets aren’t hard to change, but I think I was just beginning to feel limited by my small screen. I wanted to see everything for the next few months in one glance as far as it came to making purchases I am saving for. There were items, dollar amounts, dates and current totals listed and everything seemed to be sooo much more organized.

I feel so much more free now. I don’t know about you but there’s nothing like getting things in order that takes any stress that I had completely off. Call me old-fashioned but this white board method just soooo worked for me. Who knows, maybe it won’t last but a couple of days but being able to see all of it right there and being able to change it in my own handwriting whenever I wanted to brought me a sense of control that I didn’t have when I was putting them all on the spreadsheet.

Maybe I’m crazy but what I’m trying to say is just do what works for you.

There are countless gurus out there who will tell you, “This is the way you do this” and “This is the way you organize your finances (or your life for that matter).” But none of that really matters if it doesn’t work. Find what works for you and then do it! It will save you time, money and energy.

Computers work for me–most of the time. But for savings goals I’d rather have it on the computer AND on my handwritten white board where I can, literally, touch it. 😉

What about you? Do you prefer computers or hand-written boards or pieces of paper when organizing? Do you have any efficient non-conventional methods of planning you can share with the rest of us?

Juggling It All

I remember there was this time when I was young when I found myself whining, “I’m boooooooooooooooored” to my mom and dad. It usually happened about 2 weeks into summer when I was tired of doing all of the “out-of-school-summer-fun” already. But it probably happened on the weekends too. I just didn’t know what to do with myself!

My how things have changed! I can’t remember the last time I said those words now. There’s just so much to do! Always. I am fairly certain I could keep myself occupied for 24 hours out of the 24 hour day if I could. Sometimes I hate sleep.

Our hours are filled with working, playing, learning, relating, eating, sleeping and a thing I like to call bettering. 😉 But whatever our hours are filled up with there’s one thing that is for sure–we don’t want to drop any of these. There may be seasons when we have to focus a little bit less on a certain area but we have to keep them in our lives regardless of how busy we are because that’s why they are there in the first place: they’re important to us.

So we juggle.

I juggle.
Today I juggled the fact it was a Monday with the fact I am moving this Saturday with the fact I had to be at work for 8 1/2 hours with the fact I want to spend time with my family with the fact American Idol was on tonight with the fact that since I am moving this weekend I need to get all my homework done before then with the fact my eyes hurt from already looking at a computer all day with the fact it’s such a beautiful day I just want to go outside with the fact I didn’t write a blog this morning so I want to tonight with the fact I got a new cell phone and I just want to play with it!

It could seem like it’s all so much that something’s got to give. But…it doesn’t. Necessarily. All of it’s possible. And yes, it’s a struggle, but when you set your mind and heart to it you can handle anything. And you can handle it well.

But it won’t just happen. We have to make it happen.

We have to set priorities and plans. Even if that’s a quick jot-down in the morning of what you want to do that day and how you’re going to get it all done. When you get into a routine like this the juggling becomes less and less of a struggle and more and more of an enjoyment. You feel satisfied. Accomplished. Energized. Ready to move forward some more.

We don’t have to give up things we love for other things we love or certain goals for other goals. We can handle more than we think we can…and we can handle it with a smile and with poise. 😉

How do you juggle everything in your life and keep a right heart at the same time?