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.

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?

WE Bring the Value

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we perceive ourselves and how that affects the way we make decisions, the way we think and even the way we interact with other people. It’s important that we have the understanding of who we are and what value we carry within.

As a young person, starting life out and trying to “get out there” can carry a lot of weight. We want to perform well at work and have solid relationships. We want to handle our money right and make it work for us instead of us just working for it. We want to not just take advantage of opportunities but actually create those opportunities. And if we’re not careful the tendency would be to find our value in how well we’re doing in those areas.

But here’s the thing: Our work does not give us value. We give value to our work.

We are running our lives. God granted us intrinsic value that sticks with us regardless of what kind of decisions we make or how well we perform on the job or managing our finances. We get to take that value within ourselves and willingly offer it to a task. Or not offer it . It’s our choice. The job, relationships, spiritual life, money and health we have are, mainly, not forced upon us. They are things we willingly engage in.

They do not own us. We own them.
They do not give us value. Instead, we give value to them. (With the exception perhaps of a spiritual life…but even then, it is nothing without our interaction!)

Until we realize this, until we realize that inside of us is a greater potential for good works and connection, we will be run over by the things in our daily lives. We’ll feel bound by what is.

But the truth is that your finances are ultimately going to end up however you’d like them to be because you’re going to work (or not) work at it. Positive thinking won’t do. The job or career you have is going to be the one you pick, not the one that picked you. Your relationships will be great or terrible based upon the value you willingly add to them.

So today, as you go through the day, think about all the things you are involved in and what you are doing. Look at the details and the big picture. And decide whether or not you want to be a part of it. Do you want to add your value to it? If so, do it! Add all the value you can to whatever is at hand. But if you don’t want to add value to it, stop faking it and move on to something you DO want to add value to.

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. =)

Getting Things Done

For those with big dreams and big plans there is always “something else” that needs to be done. Whether it’s sell another item on eBay or reader another book or take another test or write another blog, the list never ends but the time in the day does!

I’m not an expert on Getting Things Done (yet!) but I spent some time with a guy who does (well, I read his book which is basically like spending time with him!) and I really believe my productivity and efficiency level increased by leaps and bounds (more realistically it was at least 200%.)

His name is David Allen and he’s the author of the book, “Getting Things Done.” (Buy it on Amazon Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
) None of us are such experts at life that we can’t use a little help. And what is awesome about this book is it crosses all different areas of life. It can apply to your career, personal life, finances, grocery shopping, absolutely everything!

The key idea Allen expresses over and over is the concept of writing things down and getting everything from out of your head and onto paper. Keeping it in your head will only keep you stressed out and feeling busy all the time though you may not actually be getting anything done. When you write it down you can forget about it until you purposefully go back and look at your paper.

Sounds simple but it’s truly life-changing. For those wanting to move forward in life and not stay stagnant it’s a must-read.

That’s it for today. Happy Monday!! Have a great week and live it on purpose!

Do you have any keys to getting things done?? Please share!

Financial Goals: Makin’ It Happen

So last week or so I posted some specific goals I’d like to reach by end of this year. There were some financial ones, health ones, education ones and relationship ones.

I was able to post them but not able to give a lot of specifics on how to do achieve those goals. Today I wanna discuss how I am planning on meeting my financial goals for 2010 and give you a small update on each of them.

Here is my list from February 24 and my thoughts below.

FINANCIAL
1. $1,000 in emergency fund by year end 2010
2. $2,000 in cash savings by year end 2010
3. $1500 for vacation in fall of 2010
4. $800 for school every semester
5. Open a 401(k) and Roth IRA and begin to fund

On the emergency fund…
I am currently 75% to my goal. I was going back and forth whether to just throw all my extra money at it at once to get it up to the goal more quickly but I’ve got a few other things happenin’ so I’m going a little slower than I thought.

On the cash savings…
This isn’t much yet. I’ll say this: there’s some in there. But I am not contributing to it currently so I can add more to my e-fund. (By the way, this is basically an extension of my emergency fund. I’d like to get my e-fund up to 6-8 months of living expenses because you never know what could happen.)

On the vacation savings…
I am all set to go on a vacation but the more I think about it sometimes the more I think, “If I put that money toward my e-fund that’d ROCK.” But…vacations are good things. And I haven’t been on one in awhile so I’m doing this. Though I am thinking of cutting the cost down. 😉

On the school savings…
I’ve got a plan in place that should rock this baby home! I’m thrilled.

On the 401(k) and Roth IRA…
I will open the 401(k) in November as that is when I am eligible for an employer match. And I’m shooting to open my Roth once I”m done saving for vacation (hopefully mid or late summer.) I know some of you may have just fallen down dead that I’d put off retirement savings for a vacation NOW but it is what it is and I’m happy about it! 😉

There you have it, kids. Short and sweet.

What are some of your financial goals and how are you reaching them??