If You Don’t Get Out Of Debt Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

Photo by Dave Lawler

Photo by Dave Lawler

Waiting For Perfect Timing

Perfect timing.

I suspect I’m the king of this elusive time issue. I tend to wait around for the timing to be just about right on most everything such as writing an important article, scheduling the doctor’s appointment, working on a speech, having an important conversation, or making that critical phone call.

The reality of perfect timing is that it is merely a socially acceptable way to procrastinate.

And, I’m sure I’m not alone in this, either. I would guess that most of us like to wait around for the “perfect timing” on almost anything in life.

Yeah, we’re just procrastinating.

So, why do we procrastinate? What are we waiting around for?

Perhaps, taking action will take us out of our comfort zone? It will make us uncomfortable, and we human beings are funny that way. We live for comfort. We don’t like stress. But, we also don’t accomplish what we need to do, either.

If we would just embrace our discomfort and take one small step of action, then we would find that it’s really not as bad as we made it out to be in our mind.

The Perfect Time To Pay Off Debt

Paying off debt is one of these areas that people like to wait around for the right timing.

Perfect timing is a myth. It’s pure hokum.

Yeah, we think we’ll start paying down our debt when we get a higher paying job, when we get our website built that is going to make us a million dollars, when we can finally get moved into our dream house, or when we’re done having kids and the wife goes back to work.

The reality is that there is no such thing as perfect timing. We’re just procrastinating taking action on something that will cause us discomfort. We know that we shouldn’t be carrying the debt load we’re currently carrying, but it’s this big scary monster that we don’t want to deal with.

So, we put it off until tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. If you’re not working on getting out of debt now, then it’s probably not going to happen later.

But, I can tell you from personal experience that if you face your fear and look at this ugly debt monster in the face, it’s probably not as bad as you think. We always make things bigger in our mind than they are.

Now Is The Time

I don’t care where you’re at, today.

Maybe you’re still in college. You started a new business a few months ago. You just got married. Your wife is about to give birth to your firstborn child.

Wherever you are in life, right now IS, without a doubt, the very best time to embark on your debt-free journey. Your life will not be any easier one year from now. It’s just going to get more complicated and more expensive at some level. Plus, in these uncertain economic times we now find ourselves, you are better off to just deal with your current state than wait on better financial times that may be several years away.

Take action today on moving toward a debt-free life. Don’t procrastinate any longer. The clock is ticking. If you don’t get out of debt now, you’ll hate yourself later.

Questions: Are you waiting around to become debt-free? What are you waiting around for? What one action could you take today to break your cycle of procrastination and move toward financial freedom?






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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.

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?

5 Ways To Live A More Elegant Life

Photo by Qrodo Photos

Photo by Qrodo Photos

What Is Elegance?

The clean dismount of a gymnast from the balance beam. The smooth playing motions of a professional cellist. The foil handling of a fencing expert. The passionate speech of a CEO. The fluid hand motions of a symphony orchestra conductor. The graceful walk of a model down the runway.

When I consider elegance, I think of these types of activities.

The classic definition of elegance is as follows (from Dictionary.com):

elegance or elegancy (ˈɛlɪɡəns)

  • dignified grace in appearance, movement, or behaviour
  • good taste in design, style, arrangement, etc
  • something elegant; a refinement

The origin of the actual word is French (élégance) from. c.1500 and means tasteful, correct, harmonious, choice, of speech or prose.

In days gone by, people of means and “refinement” went to finishing or charm schools (mostly girls) to learning the fine art of the social graces.

While many of these types of schools are no longer functioning today, I believe something can be said of the importance of living a life of elegance. There are so many crude and rude people in today’s society. This makes no sense to me, especially living in the modern age of the 21st century. I would like to think that we as a society have grown beyond crude and rude, right?

In this post, I’d like for us to consider living a life filled with more elegance, more grace, and more refinement.

5 Ways to Live With More Elegance

  1. Dress up more. Today’s society has gone too far over into the casual appearance. If you really want to make an impact with those around you, consider “suiting up” on a regular basis like Barney Stinson. Also, wear quality clothes that fit you well. If yours currently don’t fit very well, then get them professionally tailored or budget for more that do. Be classy and dignified in your appearance.
  2. Watch your table manners. Using your hands to eat, licking your fingers, and wiping your dirty hands on your shirt will probably earn you a bad rap, especially in a professional setting. Consider using the “old school” table manners with your napkin and left hand down in your lap. Use the proper silverware to bring the food to your mouth. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t speak with food in your mouth, and so on.
  3. Float across the room. Do you walk like a trucker? Do you slouch? Do you hang your head and look down at the floor? Watch how today’s “power people” walk into a room. They walk with confident grace and ease.
  4. Speak with dignity. Have you ever recorded yourself speaking? Does your speech sound stilted, or do you have a pleasing tone and flow to your speaking? You might consider working with a vocal coach or joining Toastmasters International.
  5. Listen to more elegant music. I think some of the most elegant, intelligent music ever written comes from the Renaissance and Baroque time periods. Dial these two stations up on Pandora occasionally for a great “ear break” from today’s pop music noise. I’m listening to these two stations as I write this post.

Are You Living A Life Of Elegance?

How elegant is your life? Do you dress for success? Do you watch your manners at power lunches? Do you walk into a conference room with grace and ease? Do you have a pleasant speaking voice? Do you listen to quality music?

I would contend that living with more elegance in these five areas can dramatically improve your professional as well as personal life.

How about you? Do you have additional areas that you strive for elegance in your life? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.






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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.