Waiting at the RMV

July 29, 2010

Ever feel like you are stuck in an endless loop cycle that you can’t get out of? Yet you know you have to be in the middle of it in order to get things done?

That’s what being at the RMV for me is like. Take a ticket, to sit on wooden benches and wait for your letter and number to be called at one of 11 available windows. At least the computer ticket informed me that my approximate wait will be 34 minutes. There were only 15 others ahead of me dealing with registration or license issues. And the funny thing is, changing out my license plates and issuing a new registration took all of 45 seconds.

I think they should offer some sort of entertainment while you are waiting to attend to your business at the RMV. Outside of the young children who are screaming, crying and generally unhappy about being there, you end up hearing a lot of sighs and discontent about the process. What makes it take so long? We’ve been dealing with cars and all of the licenses, permits and documentation you need for years. I would figure with more of the process being streamlined through online means, you wouldn’t have to make so many physical appearances to your local office to get things done.

At least I got in and out within 45 minutes. When I renewed my license earlier in the year, that took an hour. I never know what the best time to get there is- I’ve been there when the doors open and I’ve been there in the late afternoon. You can never tell when the throng of traffic will be going through day in and day out. I’m open to suggestions to make the process less painful. I brought a book with me (168 Hours) and was able to get through 3 chapters while I waited, so not all of my time felt completely idle or irritating.

In the meantime, I have plenty of fall albums to review for the websites I contribute to. I have 4 new library books to read. And it’s the final day of my work week- with a vacation coming up in a couple of weeks. I have nothing really to complain about. I’ve been walking at least 30 minutes a day, even in these hot, humid, muggy days. I’m over 3 months plus on not drinking and types of soda or caffeinated products. I’m gearing up for more bowling as the summer months wind to a conclusion.

Have an awesome day. Be kind and good to each other. Give a long lost friend a call sometime- let them know how much you care.


What Can We Substitute?

July 27, 2010

So many times in life we complain that we never have enough time to squeeze in all the activities in the day we want to pursue. I understand that between work, travel, often being involved in the activities of your children you have little left in the tank for your own personal hobbies and goals.

You have to remember though: we only have a finite time on this earth. Think about the amount of time you spend in passive consumption with the radio going, the computer on, the consistent buzz of your cell phone and the background noise of television. It’s okay to have a mental and physical escape from the day to day stress, but we don’t want to spend hours on end living a satisfied life in this manner.

What can you substitute if you need to spend more time in another area? Is getting up an hour earlier a better solution if you want to get your exercise in for example? How about shutting down the television for an hour during prime time and starting up a special game night with your children? If becoming knowledgeable in a new skill for work or for personal development is in order, set aside those 30-60 minutes a day if necessary and pick up the books, the audio or video material, or take the courses and seminars you need to for your future.

We don’t want to live the rest of our lives on Someday Isle. We know plenty of people who talk about what they want to do, then fail to take that first step or risk in order to achieve what they truly desire. It’s better for some to stay complacent and complain than to actually get off of their duff, surprise themselves and as a result take their lives in a total unique direction they never expected. Don’t give me the excuses of I’m too young, I’m too old, I don’t have enough education, I don’t know where to start, and so on.

Where there’s a will, there’s always a way. I carve out the time I need to for writing, for listening to music, for bowling, for spending time with my family, for rest and relaxation. If it means I write out daily to do lists, I start the night before and know what I need to accomplish. If you love what you do, it won’t seem stressful or even like work- it will be invigorating, fun and uplifting.

Speaking of which, I’m looking forward to this new summer series with Tony Robbins called Breakthrough on NBC. It’s only a six week series, but I think now is an important time to see what changes we can make and take a look into other people’s lives to see what they have been able to accomplish with a little bit of guidance and proper direction. I’m glad Tony was persistent to get this show on the air as I know it’s been in the cards for a long time.

Have a wonderful day. Praise people in public when you catch them doing something right. Acknowledge people in the service industry who go above and beyond the call of duty. Smile and the world will smile back at you.

Small Numbers Add Up

July 26, 2010

I believe that the biggest events that happen in our lives occur as a result of a build up of small skills or tools that we use that add up. You don’t become a great writer the minute you are born- you have to read, write and study good writers and through consistent discipline and use of your skills, gradually you become comfortable with the art of words and knowing how to best communicate through this medium. When it comes to my bowling accomplishments, I’ve had to study, obtain coaching, execute the new skills on a consistent basis and simulate practice into real league and tournament bowling in order to achieve many of my goals.

It may not seem like it at the time, but the extra hour or two a day you put into something will become monumental years down the road. I concur with Jim Rohn’s thoughts during his 1999 weekend seminar where he states, “Do what you have to now because later leads to more satisfaction. Give your best to the few and you’ll be recognized to help many.”

I love reviewing and interviewing bands for a multitude of reasons. I feel like I can express myself to others and help people make better purchasing decisions with their money. I receive free music and get the chance to go to concerts as a result- but I would still find a way to support the music that I love (and continue to do so) even if I didn’t benefit from these perks. I’ve been able to met a wide variety of people through the years of my involvement with the scene- and I still keep in touch with a large number of them. They’ve become not just comrades in support of music- a lot of them I’m proud to call my friends and we’ve gotten to know each other on a deeper level.

So I want to encourage you to pursue your dreams even if they seem years in the distance. Time is going to pass anyways, so wouldn’t you rather get in the game and start taking the steps to achieve your dreams? If you’ve always wanted to go into a new career field and need the training, find someone already doing what you want to do, take them out to a meal and interview them. Get signed up for the classes, even if it’s online or through part-time night classes. Don’t be afraid to tell others about your dreams, they may be able to help you with resources or the right connection to take the learning curve down quickly.

Small numbers do add up. A little money put away each week in an interest bearing savings account or investment adds up. The 60 minutes a day with positive, uplifting reading material adds up. Audio learning in your car ride to and from work adds up. The continual hugs that you give each day to your partner and your children add up. The risk that you take to pursue a new hobby will add up. Passing on your knowledge and talent to others who show interest adds up. Take the chance and you’ll be surprised at the outcomes.

Entertainment Versus Education Ratio

July 5, 2010

I want to talk about a thought personal development author Brian Tracy discussed on the August 2010 audio interview with Darren Hardy in Success magazine. Brian has a theory that the average adult would rather spend most of his active time engaging in entertainment based activities versus educational activities. He states that if the ratio is wildly in favor of entertainment versus education, it’s little wonder why many adults are struggling to make ends meet financially and aren’t going in the direction they desire in other areas of their lives.

He believes the average person’s ratio of E to E (entertainment to education) is 50 to 1: meaning that the average adult will spend 50 minutes engaged in entertainment related activities versus 1 minute of education related activities. If you can shrink that ratio down to 5 to 1 in Brian’s opinion, you will probably be a very rich individual.

What are entertainment related activities? Television watching, newspaper reading, listening to music on the radio, talking with your co-workers about social activities at work, taking in sports games, and so on. I think if we tracked our day to day activities and see how much we are cracking open a book in our related field to achieve more knowledge and implement better skills to become a more productive worker, we would be surprised to see that many of us stopped reading non-fiction material in our career or skill sets since college.

That’s a shame with the amount of information available at our disposal. If you aren’t getting better as a person and keeping up with the changes in your field- someone else is, and chances are they are achieving more, making themselves more valuable and also increasing their finances.

What’s wrong with making your car travel learning time and keeping audio books and seminar courses at your disposal? You can get 500-1000 hours of learning on average with the amount of time we spend traveling in our cars to and from work alone. Even if you take away one new idea a month and implement it, can you imagine how much more productive you will be? Imagine if you were able to start a side business based on your interests and produce multiple sources of income? What if you were able to sustain better relationships with your bosses, your co-workers, your friends, your partner, and your family?

I’ve spent the past 4 years making continuous learning a lifestyle and not just a passive activity. I read, I listen, I take notes, and I implement new ideas. Some work well for me, some don’t- but at least I’m getting in the game and taking action. Garrison Wynn in his recent book The Real Truth About Success mentions, “Knowledge is not power; implementation is power.” You can be the smartest man or woman in your community, at your company, in your country- and yet if don’t put the information into practice, it’s useless.

Make it a point to change those entertainment versus education ratios. We do have to have play time to recharge our creativity as human beings. But we can’t stop learning- because if we don’t grow, we slowly wither away. You can always learn through books, through audio material, through video material, through in person seminars, finding mentors and coaches- whatever it takes to better your life.

One Simple Choice

June 30, 2010

You have the power of choice within your hands everyday. You can interpret your day as good or bad based on how you view life. Many people succumb to the notion that the world is out to get them. Others view certain aspects of life as not within their control and they maintain focus on the areas that they can control. Whatever you choose, understand that these simple choices are within your capable hands.

My daughters right now struggle with choice, especially when in crisis. If they feel disappointment, shame, anger or fear- they tend to lash out with their next choice on the person closest to them. Whether with words or with actions, the danger becomes pushing that person so far away that when you are in real need of their help, will they be around for you or will they make you go it alone?

My wife and I are simplifying areas of our personal lives. Whether it’s cutting back on work hours to make sure one person is around more for the children and their appointments or taking away luxuries and placing an emphasis on what we need versus what we want, we work together as a team to make sure that the family can stay connected and strong.

I love to read, but I haven’t been buying as many books as I normally would. I’ve been taking most of the summer off from bowling which frees up a lot of my spending. I don’t look at this with resentment- it’s my simple choice to throw my attention into other areas- be it card and board games, reading and listening materials from the library, and engaging in more outdoor activities where my expenditures are minimal. I’ve never been the type of person that has to feel like I’m spending a lot of money to have a good time. I enjoy and cherish what I have around me.

So don’t be afraid to simplify your life. Make the small choice to spend 15 minutes a day clearing up an incomplete in your life. Maybe there’s a closest you’ve always wanted to tidy up. Maybe you have some extra clothes that you don’t wear that could find a good home with Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Maybe you can bake some extra goodies for your neighbors or a homeless shelter that would welcome donations. Maybe you can sit down and read that long forgotten book you’ve meant to. Maybe you can take up a new hobby and find friends to share in the experience.

Make that one simple choice. Don’t sit on the sidelines any longer. You have only one life to live- and once time is spent, it can never be put back on the clock. You don’t want to be sitting there 30 years from now wishing you had accomplished and seen and done more than you’ve chosen to do. Put down the excuses and take that step forward. You’ll be glad you have in the long run.

What Do We Want Versus Need?

June 15, 2010

In today’s market, the consumer has more power than ever. What type of cell phone provider you want to go with along with a variety of coverage needs. Cable- satellite- or stick with the internet and videos/ DVD’s for your entertainment needs? Do we buy new or do we buy gentle used? It’s really an exciting time to sit back and think about what we truly want in life versus what we need.

As a result, my wife and I are working on a step by step plan to really look at our priorities and see where we want to put our finances. The first measure I did today is call my cable company and cut back to the basic local channels. They don’t make it easy for you to do- which I think is a stall tactic on their part so that you won’t really cut back- but I followed through on the phone transfers and repeating of my basic information to get what I want accomplished.

The final customer service representative asked me if I was disappointed at all in the service I was receiving and was that the reason for the cutback. I assured him not at all- I told him I needed to rearrange my budget needs and right now, cable wasn’t as much of a priority as other areas of our lives. He didn’t push the issue, gave me what I wanted and I thanked him for his time.

Right now my wife and I are looking into other areas where we can both tighten up our spending as well as earning more income to apply to our bills. This might include a couple of table set ups at local flea markets, it may entail putting items up on various internet auction sites, we may look for times where we can do an odd job or two for friends and family to earn some extra money- I even participate in a number of computer surveys to earn some extra cash.

I want to spend this summer really thinking about what I want versus what I need out of life- and how many of those things require me to put out a large sum of money to do. For instance, I love to read. Do I need to buy books all the time to feed this passion- or is it just as simple for me to go to the local library? Writing is something that I can do at the drop of a notebook or here on a computer keyboard. That frees up money for something that may be a little more expensive for me that I still enjoy- such as bowling.

Really look into the summer community activities in your local area. Most are very inexpensive, and many are often free. There are local concerts, there can be karaoke, it can be a craft fair, you could go swimming at a local state park- you are only limited by the size of your imagination and where you want to stretch it to.

Your children appreciate the time spent with you- it doesn’t really matter in the long run the amount of money you spent on the experience. The best times I remember with my family relate to cookouts, vacations where my father took me fishing, or just hanging out with friends over their houses from time to time. Reevaluate wants versus needs- and enjoy yourself as the summer comes into the horizon.

Who Designates Happiness?

June 3, 2010

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. People wonder whether happiness is something that comes from within the genes you receive at birth or whether its something that grows through outside nurturing. Right now my children seem to be struggling most with this aspect of life. I don’t know if they necessarily feel like a life of good is owed to them- but they certainly have been making it clear to us that they are unhappy and feel we have a lot to do with it.

I’m reading a great book by Ted Leonsis called The Business of Happiness. The first half of the book tells his background and where he believes he learned so much through experience about happiness- and the second half gives you some tools to be able to look at where you are at and how you can achieve more happiness if you desire.

What was interesting is looking at the correlation between money and happiness. So many times we hear in life that if I just had more money, I’d be happy- if I could just get out of debt, I’d be so happy and have no worries left. He realized that a lot of times when he chased certain financial opportunities, he would have to sacrifice in other areas and that would play into his level of happiness. Overall, I agree that if you are working in a career that you thoroughly are passionate about, happiness will be a natural byproduct. We need to feel wanted and loved by the community around us- be it co-workers, bosses or people that are directly consuming or effected by what we do in our work.

Relating this back to my children, as much as I would love for them to be happy, I can’t make them happy. It has to come from within. They have to choose to look at what’s going on and see what they desire most out of life. If they believe there’s no hope for a better future, they will get exactly what they put out. Which is a shame, as they can have the best of everything they want- as long as they put their heart and soul into it.

There have been others who’ve had life as worse if not much worse then theirs- and come out on top or better for it. I refuse to accept blame for the consequences of their current actions. We’ve given them numerous opportunities to work out their issues- have multiple therapists and psychiatrists in their lives- and encourage them to use the skills they are learning when faced with trouble, challenges and crisis. I can’t make another human being do something they don’t want to do- and likewise, their unhappiness is not going to tarnish my happiness.

So I will continually keep them in my thoughts and hope they learn that we are doing what’s best for their future- even if they don’t see it that way currently. Safety and security are top priorities in this house, and I can’t have myself or my wife living in fear of their emotional outbursts continuing to be physically unsafe outbursts. We want them to think before they act- and work on using a wise mind rather than living in an emotional world all of the time.