Featured Guest Post At XPastor.org: 7 Suggestions For Better Meetings

XPastor.orgI’m pleased to announce that I had a new guest post go live this week over at XPastor.org.

Post Title: Meetings Are Lame: 7 Suggestions On Making Them Better

Summary: In this post, I discuss the impact of poorly organized and executed meetings on any organization. I give 7 suggestions for making them better, such as:

  • Consider holding only afternoon meetings.
  • Create an agenda for each meeting.
  • Appoint a leader in charge of the meeting.
  • Announce a distraction free zone.
  • Start and end on time.
  • Create an action items list.
  • Delegate tasks within the meeting.

Read this and more over on my guest post at XPastor.org.

Thank you to Dr. David Fletcher and his team for utilizing my post!






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3 Areas I’m Fighting Back Against Clutter In The New Year

Photo by Basial

Photo by Basial

The Expansion of Clutter

Clutter. Similar to the shark in the movie Jaws, you know it’s always lurking around in your home. You may not see it immediately, but you know that it’s a problem that needs to be dealt with sooner than later.

Over time, clutter just builds up and expands. The more people living in the home, especially families with small children, the more stuff is accumulated. And, of course, the holiday season is the worst time of year for accumulating a whole new pile of additional stuff through Christmas gifts.

Worst case scenario of clutter: you end up on an TV episode of Hoarders.

I came back from my own Christmas holiday break this year on a mission: declutter my life. It’s time to get rid of junk and reorganizing my physical spaces (home and office) as well as digital world (computer files, email, etc.). I kind of go through this manic problem once or twice a year.

So What?

So, who really cares about clutter anyway? What’s the big deal if we have stuff piling up around us on a continual basis?

Here are a few great quotes that synthesize the unique problem of clutter and the ultimate benefits of a clutter-less lifestyle:

“I hate belongings. I hate clutter. It really bothers me because I can’t think properly. If you’ve got distractions in front of you, your mind goes nuts.” – Simon Cowell

“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.” – Eleanor Brownn

“The wonderful, beautiful thing that happens when you rid yourself of the things that don’t see your worth? You make space in your life for all the glorious things you deserve.” – Mandy Hale

We can’t think properly because it is a distraction. It does not support your better self. Losing the clutter makes room for better, more glorious things in our life.

3 Areas In The Battle Against Clutter

Here are my three areas I’m currently waging war in my battle against the enemy of clutter:

  1. Clearing Out Drawers and Closets. We can all get a little lazy when it comes to keeping our homes clean and organized. We randomly toss clothes, shoes, and accessories into drawers and closets during busy, hectic days. Pretty soon, we have a disorganized mess on our hands. We also accumulate clothing items that we don’t and won’t wear any more. Time to clear out and bag up those items and give them away to your favorite local charity.
  2. Tackling The Dreaded Inbox. In our modern society, digital clutter – emails and other files – are a new form of hoarding that takes place in our lives. Well, hoarding may be an extreme word to use, but our digital world has added a whole other layer to our lives that needs to be cleared out and organized on a regular basis. Right now, I’m trying to attack my email problems at the source by unsubscribing from email lists that I no longer find useful in my life. Also, if we attempt to only “handle” and immediately deal with each email once and then delete it, that should help reduce clutter as well. Also, consider going through hard drives and cloud drives to delete unneeded files; reorganize needed files into a clear structure of various folders.
  3. Fighting Back Against Junk Mail. At one time in my life, a few years back, I thought I had a handle on my junk mail issues, and then over the last two years, I feel like my junk mail has returned with a vengeance. In the 2008, 2010 version of Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey gives proactive advice on how to decrease unauthorized direct mail marketing. If you own this particular workbook, check out p. 89 or click-through now to this web page. I just re-registered myself on these opt out websites in order to cut down on my daily mail clutter!

Question: Do you have any helpful tips in dealing with physical and digital clutter? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave me a comment.

Focus On The Line Of Your Life, Not The Dots

Photo by robinparmar

Photo by robinparmar

Inspired Musical Performance

As a musician, it’s easy for me and other music-types to get hung-up on technique. We try really hard to play the right notes at the right time at the right pitch. We think we have achieved success if we can nail that musical trifecta and then stick the landing!

While technique is vitally important to achieving a successful music performance, we’re definitely missing the boat as musicians if that’s our only concern. The purpose of performing any piece of music is to communicate the intended interpretation of the composer. We need to consider the overall line, shape, musical structure, and phrasing. We need to be more interested in communicating the message of the music rather than playing a technically perfect rendition of the song.

The greatest musicians of all time have been able to detach themselves from their performance technique and communicate the message of the music. They have inspired us with beautiful performances that have transcended the written notes on the page. These musicians passionately touch our lives in amazing ways.

Your Greatest Performance: Living Life

I believe several analogies can be drawn between musical performance and our own life performance.

As with too much focus on musical technique, so too can we get hung up on the proper technique of living our lives. We get focused on the individual points of our lives, instead of connecting these dots into an incredible life line that communicates an amazing message to those around us.

Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about.

When I speak of the “individual points” of our lives, I’m mostly talking about those BIG life events that we think about being able to accomplish: graduating high school, graduating college, establishing your career, getting married, having 2.5 children, getting those children raised, socking enough money in IRA’s to retire, retiring, traveling the world, crawling into the casket, and passing away.

What happens, though, when we get focused on the technique, the main points of our lives?

A number of things can happen. We can lose sight of the big picture of our lives. We can get bogged down in one area (such as finishing college – I know I did!). We can desire the act of marriage so much that we lose sight of our life line and marry the wrong person. We can get so worked up about putting enough money away for retirement that we’re working too hard in a job in which we feel unhappy and unfulfilled.

So, what if we flipped this whole life process around? What if we started living out the line of our lives instead of getting hung up on these individual parts of our lives?

Focus On The Line

The best way to overcome this point-by-point, event-by-event living is to stay focused on the line – your unique path to your ultimate, desired destination.

Stephen Covey called this type of thinking, “Beginning with the end in mind.” This is visionary, possibility thinking.

Have you ever sat down and figured out your life destination, where you intentionally want to end up? In your mind, you may have a general idea, but have you purposely crafted a statement of life intention? Have you created an extraordinary vision that you are running toward each and every day?

Perhaps you desire to live to age 100 and be the reigning patriarch of an amazingly large, Christian family of 5 kids, 15 grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren! How amazing would that be?

So, how are you going to get to there? How would you live if this was your desired destination?

I can just about guarantee you won’t get there if you’re out partying each weekend, you and your spouse fight constantly, and your family is an absolute train wreck. In this situation, your daily actions don’t line up with your intended life destination. So you’re going to need to stop and spend a little time on your life technique so your life can play out to its intended conclusion.

Fix Your Technique

Let’s go back to my example above and think through the technique on how to possibly accomplish the following life statement:

“I desire to live to age 100 and be the reigning patriarch of an amazingly large, Christian family of 5 kids, 15 grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren!”

  • Part 1: “I desire to live to age 100.” [Personal note: I recognize that our time here on earth is totally in the hands of Almighty God (James 4:14). This is still a vision that we can live toward]. So, does your lifestyle currently support your being able to live a mostly healthy life to age 100? If not, what needs to change today in order for you to live into the possibility of age 100? Do you need to change your diet, start exercising, and get yearly physicals?
  • Part 2: ” … and be the reigning patriarch …” Are you a strong leader in your family? How do treat your spouse and children? Are you a servant leader to your family? What do you need to do, who do you need to become in order to be the respected leader within your immediate and extended family?
  • Part 3: ” … of a an amazingly large, Christian family …” Are you strong in your own walk with Christ? Does your walk match your talk? Are you in the Word and in prayer on a consistent basis? Is weekly church attendance a priority? Can you look your family members in the eyes and say with the confidence of the Apostle Paul, “follow me as I follow the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Work on your life technique just like a musician would, but also don’t forget to play the song of your life with everything you’ve got! Have a vision and live toward that vision each day.

Questions: How is your “life song” playing out, today? Are you hung up on performing the right life techniques or are you focused on your life line and ultimate destination? Have you ever crafted a vision of intention for the ultimate destination of your life here on earth?

As we begin a new year, now is a great time to work on the line, the ultimate destination of what you desire to achieve in this life.

7 Components For A Solid Financial Foundation

Photo by jonathanpercy

Photo by jonathanpercy

Big Buildings Require Massive Foundations

One World Trade Center, the primary building that is replacing the twin towers that were destroyed in the attacks on 9/11, has been under construction since 2004. The architectural planning started well before that.

This new 104-story super-tall skyscraper is now the tallest building in the United States and Western Hemisphere as well as the fourth-tallest skyscraper in the world by pinnacle height. Its spire reaches a symbolic height of 1,776 feet as tribute to the year of the United States Declaration of Independence. This is one massive skyscraper.

Get this, though. The foundation for this huge building took several years to complete.

The foundation for One World Trade Center is some 70 feet below street level and required dynamite blasting down into solid bedrock.

The symbolic cornerstone of One World Trade Center was laid down in a ceremony on July 4, 2004, but further construction of the tower was stalled until 2006. Then, on November 18, 2006, 400 cubic yards of concrete were poured onto the foundation of the One World Trade Center, carried by as many as 40 trucks. The first steel beam was welded on to the building’s base on December 19, 2006.

On January 9, 2007, a second set of beams was welded to the top of the first set. Later in that year, the construction company completed a row of steel columns at the perimeter of the construction site. Two tower crane bases were erected, and by the end of 2007, the tower’s footings and foundations were nearly complete [Source: Wikipedia].

Before the beautiful steel and glass structure could rise high in the New York City skyline, a solid foundation for this large of building had to be created to support it. It took a lot of time, energy, resources, and money to build it. This was a carefully executed piece of the building plan. In no way did it happen on accident.

The foundation is the most critical component for building anything of importance, including a financial plan for your family. Get this part right, and a magnificent financial legacy can be created to give financial life to your family for generations into the future.

7 Components For A Solid Financial Foundation

  1. Commit to a plan that you will build something amazing! When the City and State of New York, the developer, and the architect decided to build a new skyscraper, they just didn’t start digging a hole in the ground, lay some concrete and steel beams, and put a building up. No, they spent years creating various architectural designs, drawings, and models. They created the plan, first, before anything else took place. Then, they committed the time, energy, and resources necessary to execute an amazing plan. The same is true for a financial plan. You and your family need to spend time and energy creating a vision of what you ultimately desire before anything else takes place.
  2. Resolve that you will do rich people stuff. Assuming you desire to create an awesome financial legacy that will last several years into the future, then you need to plan the way wealthy people do. You need to do rich people stuff. Rich people make several wise financial decisions. They have cash reserves on hand for emergencies. They avoid debt. They do monthly budget planning. They ask questions like “how much?” not “how much per month?” and so on.
  3. Put your estate planning in place. None of us know when we will pass away, and it would be foolish to set this piece of planning off to the side until we have the rest of our financial plan is in place. This layer of the foundation is critical and needs to be one of the first parts completed. For the sake of your family, please, please, please, don’t delay doing this part. Hire an attorney and get a state specific will completed, signed, and notarized as soon as possible.
  4. Give strategically. Giving is a part of any healthy financial plan. As a Christian, I believe that God should automatically receive my first 10% that goes to my local church. After you have laid a solid foundation for your financial plan, then you and your family can discuss giving beyond the tithe and where that additional giving should go.
  5. Build up an emergency cash reserve. An emergency fund of 3-6 months of expense cash is your “insurance policy” of sorts that will help you through life’s financial up and downs, such as illness, accidents, unanticipated large repairs, and job layoffs.
  6. Pay off your debt ASAP. The majority of wealthy people do not do debt, especially revolving lines of credit. Commit to getting out of debt as soon as possible in order to give your family an amazing financial legacy.
  7. Invest in your retirement savings. The sooner you can begin investing in your 401(k) and Roth IRA’s, the longer these accounts will have to grow through the magic of compound interest. Get moving!

Questions: How’s you financial foundation? Are you being strategic in laying a great one? Have you even given it that much thought? Is your current foundation strong enough to create and support an amazing financial structure in the near future?

Stop Blaming Others And Take Ownership Of Every Aspect Of Your Life

Photo by Pushkar V

Photo by Pushkar V

Book Review

Have you ever read a book that was so good that you needed to share it with others? Well, last weekend, I happened to download a really good book on my Kindle app, and I blasted through it within a couple of days. It’s a really easy read with very short chapters. Each chapter gets straight to the point, which I really like! Anyway, the book is called QBQ! The Question Behind The Question.

The Question Behind the Question has to do with practicing personal accountability at work and in life. It’s so easy to blame others for when something goes wrong at work or within the family. Amazing, extraordinary people, though, are able to stop blaming others and simply embrace personal responsibility. Sure, all of our jobs “out in the real world” would be a lot easier if every employee within our companies shouldered their own personal responsibility in their positions. But, the unfortunate reality is that people don’t always approach their work in this way. Many of us end up picking up the slack of others.

According to the book, this is simply a great opportunity for you to be an exceptional employee, husband, father, team member, and so on.

Take Ownership

One of the primary keys to personal responsibility is taking ownership within the organization. According to QBQ!, “Ownership does not require having an equity stake in the organization or holding an official position of leadership. It simply means facing problems head-on instead of blaming, complaining, procrastinating, or making excuses. Ownership is personal accountability in its purest form.”

At work and at home, stuff will happen. Our fellow employees will drop the ball on a critical work project. Our spouse will forget to take care of an important family financial detail. Our kids will fail to do their chores around the house. As a result, we can blame everyone else around us, or we can assume the responsibility and attempt to correct the problem.

Does this mean that we chase everyone around at work and home with a giant “pooper scooper” and clean up everybody else’s messes? No, not necessarily. What it may mean for us, though, that we strive to set the bar a little higher at home and on the job.

We model personal responsibility to our co-workers and family, first. Then, we turn around and encourage a spirit of personal ownership to those around us.

The Foundation of QBQ: Ask Better Questions

The key concept behind QBQ! is asking ourselves questions.

But, instead of asking questions like:

“Why don’t others work harder?”
“Why is this happening to me?”
“Why do they make it so difficult for me to do my job?”
“Why don’t I ever get a break?”
“Why don’t people care as much as I do?”

We need to ask ourselves better, more empowering questions. The formula for creating a quality QBQ is the following:

  1. Begin with “What” or “How” (not “Why,” “When,” or “Who”).
  2. Contain an “I” (not “they,” “we,” or “you”).
  3. Focus on action.

The question “What can I do?” follows this 3-step formula, perfectly.

Instead of focusing your time and energy on a bunch of ineffective questions that lead to stress and disappointment, decide today that you will pursue creating better questions that lead to way better results at work and in your life.

Questions: Do have a tendency to ask too many “Why me?” questions? What do you need to do to start asking yourself better quality questions? Have you ordered your copy of QBQ! yet?






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How To Increase Your Peak Performance

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Photo by itupictures

The best way to increase your personal peak performance is to focus time and energy on your unique abilities during your golden hours.

What Are Your Unique Abilities?

What makes you, well you? Why does your workplace pay you the big bucks? What specific activities make you (or could make you) a superstar at work? Have you even really given it much thought?

For example, if:

  • you’re a professional pitcher for a major league baseball team, then you get paid for throwing strikes and keeping batters from making hits and scoring runs in order for your team to win games.
  • you’re a car salesman, then you get paid for selling and leasing a lot of cars in order for the car lot to turn a profit.
  • you’re a CEO of a major company, then you get paid for leading the employees to make your company a lot of money.
  • you’re a nurse at a hospital, then you are paid to help patients get well quickly and enjoy their stay as much as possible.
  • you’re a teacher at an elementary school, then you are paid to help students learn the concepts they need to know over the course of 10 months in order to move from one grade level to the next.

Whatever unique gifting you possess that makes you indispensable at work, then you need to focus on developing those specific gifts to higher levels of peak performance.

So, in our examples above:

  • the pitcher needs to practice high performance pitching (and related activities) regularly and consistently.
  • the car salesman needs to study and practice the best and most current sales techniques.
  • the CEO needs to be reading, studying, writing, and reflecting on his leadership skills in order to grow in his abilities and lead his company to the next level.
  • the nurse needs to develop her bedside manner and stay current in the medical field.
  • the teacher needs to develop his teaching, motivation, and disciplinary techniques in order to move his students to the next level.

Whatever unique abilities you possess in your career, you need to focus on growing these abilities during your “golden hours.” This is how peak performers beat out all the competition and become the best in their field.

What Are Your Golden Hours?

The concept of “golden hours” are your peak productivity hours each day. For the vast majority of people, these best hours will most likely be in the early morning. But, there are many people who just can’t handle the early morning routine. They’re more night owl than early bird. I know several people who will never be morning people and who actually do their best work at midnight!

In my own five daily rituals, I attempt to accomplish my top three between the hours of 4:30-7:00am. These top three rituals (journaling, Bible study, and writing) require the most quiet time and concentration. Since I have a young family, it doesn’t happen every day for me, but I try to get this time in as best I can. In the remaining hours of my morning at work, I focus on the priority activities for which my church pays me to accomplish. These early and even mid-morning hours are when I am my most productive and creative.

Again, you know you. You know if you function best first thing in the morning or late at night. And, if you’re not sure, simply experiment. Try out one week in the early morning hours, and then the next week, do the midnight thing. Figure out which week you were more productive and go with those golden hours. Leverage that time to accomplish your priority activities with excellence.

Questions: Do you know when your “golden hours” are during each day? Have you ever experimented to determine when you are most productive? Do you know what specific skills you possess that makes you invaluable to your employer? Do you have some type of scheduling plan in which you’re doing your most important work at the very best time?

17 Strategies To Be Successful In A Continuing Bad Economy

Reality Sinks In

Photo by Newbirth35

Photo by Newbirth35

I believe reality is finally sinking in for many of us that we are looking at several more difficult years of the “New Economy.” With the re-election of Mr. Obama, we will have at least at four more years of bad federal fiscal policy for any real economic growth.

We will continue to have rising gas prices and, in turn, a rising cost of goods and services. High unemployment will continue to drag on. The national debt will soar higher and higher. And, of course, we will have additional higher taxes in every area imaginable – income, estate, fuel, utilities, and healthcare. This will impact all of us, not just the super rich.

I don’t want to be Mr. Doom and Gloom here, but if you’re just hoping things are going to turn around financially and we’re going to be back in the “good old days” (financially speaking) of Reagan, Clinton, and the Bushes, then keep on dreaming.

If you want financial change, then you’re going to need to become the change you desire. You’re going to need to be way more proactive about money than you probably want to be. You’re going to need to work harder and smarter than ever to provide for your family. The sad reality is that the folks in Washington appear to want a bunch of mediocre wage earners. They have no real desire for you to become high achievers. Excellence and success are definitely not words in their vocabulary. In fact, they are punishing achievers more than helping them.

17 Strategies For A Bad Economy

As I wrestle with the reality of the New Economy in regard to my own family finances, here are some thoughts on becoming successful in spite of the insanity:

  1. Take personal responsibility. Resist the urge to just give up and jump on the dole. The unfortunate goal of a bunch of politicians today is for you to take advantage of every available free money handout from the government. They want you hooked for life, and then they want you to vote for them because of their benevolence. I say, dare to be different and take personal responsibility. Avoid the handouts. In the end, you’ll be better off for it. It’s about character building, not easy street.
  2. Get out of debt ASAP. Definitely do not emulate the federal government in regard to debt! Start working your debt snowball, immediately. Unloading the burden of debt will free up your resources. You will be able to focus all your available resources on what truly matters as we continue in the new economy.
  3. Build up your emergency fund. In the new economy, this will be more critical than ever. Once you get of debt, be sure to build up an emergency fund of at least 3-6 months worth of living expense money. Having this stash available will help your family through any unexpected job loss or downturns.
  4. Grow in your generosity. Even in difficult economic times, we need to maintain lifestyles of giving. This will enable an attitude of gratitude. I’ve seen it in so many people. A generous life unleashes greatness and, of course, God’s hand of blessing.
  5. Brand yourself. No, I’m not talking about making marks on your body with a hot piece of metal. In the job market of the new economy, you have to stand out. You must be unique. So, what will make your name rise to the top of a stack of resumes? What qualities or characteristics do you possess that people want and need in their workplace? What niche do you cover better than anyone else? Once you figure out what makes you unique from everyone else, then you have to sell that uniqueness in anything that has your name attached to it.
  6. Create a platform. Related to #5, once you have figured out your personal brand, then you need to release your brand out to the world. You accomplish that through some type of platform. This could be a personally branded website (such as larrywjones.com), a blog, a book, podcast, or series of YouTube videos. The best book about creating a platform is Michael Hyatt‘s Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World.
  7. Create multiple streams of income. In the new economy, you must think multiple streams of income, so that if one dries up in these challenging economic times, you will have other sources of cashflow to get you through. Long gone are the days of one solitary income sustaining an entire family. Consider ways you can create residual income streams on the side in addition to the income from your day job. Check out this awesome resource from Pat Flynn: smartpassiveincome.com.
  8. Find a mentor. The fastest way to get where you want to go is to find someone else that has already been there. If you want to be debt free, then find a debt free family and pick their brain about how they accomplished that. If you want to brand yourself through a personal platform, then find someone who has done this and emulate what they are doing.
  9. Network. In today’s world, we have various ways to maintain and even expand our network. We can go out to lunch with friends and acquaintances. We can attend networking events, such as our local chamber of commerce. We can network through the various social media channels: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. The overall goal, of course, is to maintain a group of social connections that will help you long-term with business and job opportunities.
  10. Become a life-longer learner. In today’s ever-expanding Information Age, it’s critical to always be reading and learning. Paper books, ebooks, white papers, blogs, and more. Be well-rounded and think “generalist.” Know a little something about everything. This can make you a more valuable employee over the long haul. The best leaders are actually generalists surrounded by specialists.
  11. Short and long-term financial planning. More than ever, you need some type of monthly cashflow plan during these turbulent times. You also need to be thinking out ahead for the next several years. Got goals? Do your current plans line up with those goals?
  12. Hire financial experts with the heart of a teacher. Related to #11, an excellent financial expert can help you navigate both short-term and long-term money issues. Also, there is much confusion with all the new laws coming out of Washington, especially with the massive changes in healthcare taking place, today. It’s better to get help from people who understand these new laws than to figure it all out on your own!
  13. Embrace simplicity. The simple life is way underrated. Get rid of all the extra junk in your life. Have a massive garage sale. Give away all the leftovers to your favorite charity. Keep your life and your stuff as simplistic, clean, and organized as possible.
  14. Bargain hunting. Paying full price for stuff anymore is not very bright. Learn how to find great deals at great prices. Learn how to negotiate. Be a cheap skate, but always consider the quality of the product before purchasing.
  15. Discover ways to save in the areas of fuel costs. Due to current political policies, these costs are only going to continue to rise. Does that mean go out and buy a hybrid vehicle? Probably not, because the cost of a brand new hybrid vehicle still outweighs the cost of fuel long-term. In regard to gasoline, consider less driving. Make as few driving trips as you possibly can. In regard to home utility expenses, do an energy audit and see where you can make some reasonable home improvements in order to save on those bills long-term.
  16. Pursue a healthier lifestyle. With the Affordable Care Act going into full force over the next few years, here’s another area that will continue to grow financially out of control. If you aren’t healthy, you will end up paying higher costs, fees, and taxes in order to get healthy. Pay the price on the front end with a better diet, exercise, and clean living. If you don’t do it on the front end, you’ll end up paying through the nose on the back-end.
  17. Pray. Although I have listed this last, it really should be at the top of this list! As a believer in Christ, I believe in God’s protection and provision. I know that He owns all things. I know that He is crazy in love with me. He can and will provide for me during difficult times.

Question: So, has it sunk into your brain that our current economic climate is going to persist for a while? What long-term strategies are you employing in order to survive and thrive going forward? Do you have additional suggestions to this list of 17 strategies?

The Importance of Daily Rituals In The Pursuit Of Excellence

Photo by theimpulsivebuy

Photo by theimpulsivebuy

Our Instant World

We live in an instant world. Quick mp3 downloads from iTunes. Instant oatmeal. Movies on demand. Kindle book downloads from Amazon. Instant cup of soup.

In our instant everything world, it’s hard to have patience for much of anything, anymore. The challenge for us is that the things which have true meaning and lasting value in our lives, take time to develop.

If we want to have a growing spiritual life with our Lord, then we have to spend time in His Word and in prayer. If we want to have meaningful relationships, then we need to carve out quality and quantity time to make those happen. If we want financial peace in our lives, we need to spend time doing a budget and working on a solid financial plan.

Excellence Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Photo by r0sss

Photo by r0sss

The same is true with the principle of excellence. If you want to excel at anything, then you have to set aside regular, consistent time to work on whatever you’re trying to be excellent at.

Excellence is not a “one and done” proposition. Excellence takes time. There are no shortcuts.

The best analogy I can come up with is playing a musical instrument (I’m a trumpet player). If you’ve ever played an instrument, then you know what I’m talking about. You can’t just practice your instrument one time and be done with it. If you truly want to excel at that musical instrument, then you have to develop a regular practice routine (such as an hour a day) and stick with it.

Here’s another life example of growing in excellence and appropriate rituals.

If you want to be in excellent health, then you will need to put an exercise regimen in your daily schedule. You will need to schedule regular doctor check-ups to monitor your overall health. You will need to determine a healthy meal menu and shop at the grocery store, accordingly.

Daily rituals are the best way to grow in excellence in any area.

Got Rituals?

How about you? Do you have regular routines or rituals that you practice on a regular basis in order to be excellent in specific areas of your life?

If not, here’s my recommendation. Pick just one area of your life that you want to be excellent at. Focus on that one area for several months. Establish 2-3 rituals in that area. Make these rituals a regular habit in your life. Get this one “plate” spinning really well.

Once you feel like you have the rituals firmly established in that area, then consider another area of your life in which you would like to excel. Follow the exact same pattern.

Before you know it, you will have several “plates” spinning, a number of rituals established in your life, and you will be growing in your personal excellence.

Question: If you had to pick a specific area that you need to focus on excellence in your life, what would it be? What rituals do you need to establish in order to get growing in excellence in this particular area?

Setting Goals That Inspire Action In 2013

Photo by lululemon athletica

Photo by lululemon athletica

It’s That Time, Again

It’s hard to believe, but 2012 is coming to a close in just a few days. A new year is already knocking at the door! Have you given any consideration to your current goals from 2012 and any new goals for 2013?

How did you do this year? Did you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish? Do you have some current, incomplete goals you’re going to need to carry over into the new year?

This week, I’ve been in the process of reviewing my goals from this year and deciding my goals for next year.

In this post, I’d like to challenge you to think differently about your goal-setting process for 2013. I’d like to offer a slightly different approach that will inspire you to take action next year.

3 Words | 3 Pictures

For 2013, I’d encourage you to take a different approach to goal-setting than the “normal” routines that are published everywhere. The typical approach always seems so lengthy, making your goals difficult to remember. And, in order to remember them, you need to flip open a notebook and read through them at least once a week!

I believe there is a simpler, yet broader approach that still gets the job done in an efficient manner. Let me give you a personal example.

In 2012, I had a goal I was trying to accomplish. This specific goal was to achieve washboard abs in one year.

In a more traditional, goal-setting approach, I would have written out a goal that probably looked something like this:

By December 2012, I will achieve the physical look of “washboard abs.”

Now, that in itself is a pretty simple statement and easy to remember. But, I decided to take a different approach to my goals this past year then just sentence building. I used one word and one picture per goal set. So, I jumped online, found a picture of washboard abs and typed the word “healthy” over it.

I will admit right now that I don’t exactly have the “washboard” abs look I was going for in my picture. But, I will tell you that I am a whole lot healthier at the end of this year then I was last year. Back in January, I went to the doctor for a much-needed physical exam. All my blood work looked great. I’ve been eating much healthier for the entire year (more greens and proteins; fewer carbs). In May, I started working out 3-5 times a week, with a good balance of cardio and strength training. I have kept up this pace for the remainder of the year, and now I’m addicted to my workouts!

As a result of this one word “healthy” and washboard abs picture, I now have a “swimmer’s body” physique. I lost about 10-12 pounds of excess body fat. I gained muscle mass in my chest and arms. I have more strength and stamina. I have way less stress in my life. I have not been sick at all for this entire year. One word and one picture helped me achieve a healthier, better physical life in 2012.

As a result of this awesome success, I’m currently sorting out 3 big, hairy, audacious goals that I would like to accomplish in 2013. I’m fine-tuning the 3 words and 3 pictures I would like to link to these goals for the new year. I’m super jazzed about what I will be able to accomplish next year. I plan on “crushing it” in 2013.

One word associated with one picture for each life goal. Try three big goals for next year and see how it works for you!

Are You Setting Goals?

So, are you in the process of reviewing your goals from 2012 and preparing a new set of goals for 2013? How did you do this year? Are you getting excited about a new year and a whole new world of possibilities?

What goal-setting plan are you using? Have you ever used a similar approach to the one word, one picture per goal that I have mentioned in this post?

I’d love to get your thoughts on goal-setting for the coming year. Feel free to leave me a comment below.