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.


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.

Deal With Your Truth

May 27, 2010

When we don’t want to face reality, as humans we tend to run away from our problems. Either physically in terms of location or emotionally and mentally in terms of denial. We distance ourselves and then assign blame often times on outside circumstances or situations that we’ve caused to happen by our previous decision-making.

Right now I’m having to face some reality check situations in my own life that happen as a result of impulsive decisions I’ve made through the years. I could whine and complain about what happened- but where will that get me? All I can do is face the truth head on and learn from the experience so that I don’t put myself in a similar situation again.

Should I look at what I lack or should I focus more on what I desire? I find that a scarcity mentality tends not to be a healthy one. Negative emotions build out of feeling like you have to cut back or suppress what you want out of life. Now is the time to look at my skill sets and think about how I can use them to benefit others and possibly bring additional income into the household.

Too many people I know in the world seem to be very good at manipulating others into thinking their public persona is so different than their real persona. If you tell too many tall tales to other people, eventually reality will catch up to you. We did not come into this world as perfect human beings- and I think you would be surprised how forgiving many people will be if you own up to your troubles and get the right help that you need to go on the right path.

I’ve learned that dwelling on what’s over and done with as far as decision making is a no win situation. It’s better to face where you are at head on and make the right choices from here on out. Too many people want to tackle their problems and challenges on their own- and not take advantage of the strong network of family and friends and co-workers and teachers and therapists and health care providers around you who can make life a little bit easier for you.

If there’s been a significant issue you’ve been delaying to deal with because you think it will take care of itself, pull it back out and brainstorm about it. Go completely silly if you have to and come up with 20 different solutions to the problem. I learned this aspect from Brian Tracy, and you’ll be surprised that often the final solution or two is the one that will work out the best.

You aren’t going to get any better living in denial. If you have anger issues, get help. If you feel like you aren’t in the right career, get help and develop the skills necessary to move into the career you desire. Don’t succumb to victim mentality- you can always help yourself out of any situation as long as you put the mindset, the drive and the action into place.

And as much as you think people are constantly judging your every move in every moment- they really aren’t. They are more worried about you doing the same thing to them than they are about you. You have only one life to live- why not make it the most productive and uplifting you can, instead of consistently saying to yourself “I wish I had done this, I wish I had done that, there’s no time to accomplish this…”.

Find The Need and Start Filling It

May 17, 2010

We’ve been saying for years that my wife and I need to do something to give back in the sense of our love for special needs and mental illness with our children. We’ve been fortunate to meet wonderful families and service providers through the years- but the one constant complaint we’ve heard about relates to getting some sort of respite care providers when you need relief.

Even if it’s to go run errands for a few hours, attend a special meeting, go out to dinner with your partner, or just get away for the night- there isn’t enough support to go around to sometimes get the right providers who can watch your children and keep them safe.

So as a result my wife and I are working on changing that around. Over the weekend we’ve been planning, writing, researching and putting things into motion. We want to be able to network and put families together to receive these types of services. We want to help not just on a parent to parent level, but also child to child. We want to inform, enlighten and show that we can make a difference.

We grew tired of hearing there’s no money available or no service providers available- so we are working hard to provide a model that will be reasonable for all parties involved. We’ve purchased a domain name and hosting services and will start the process of getting our website up and running. We will seek out help as necessary in areas that we aren’t as knowledgeable. I believe in the Jack Canfield model of doing 5 things every day to move forward to your ultimate breakthrough goal- even if you don’t necessarily know all the time where you want to go.

Too many times in life we stress out over the details. My wife and I had a light bulb go off in our brains as we were watching a Brian Tracy DVD regarding wealth building and business principles. He mentioned that too many people aren’t focusing on the key question “How?” . They talk themselves out of matters quicker than just looking at challenges placed in front of them and seeking out the right tools to answer the “How” in this challenge or roadblock placed before them.

We are here to fill a definite need. Parents need to regain focus and enjoy time alone to become better parents. Children with special needs and mental illness need the chance to gain socialization skills and be around others where they aren’t going to feel different or picked on because they don’t meet society’s definition of normal. Providers of outside services can recommend what we are doing because we know what other families are going through and have our heads and hearts in the right place.

There will be other aspects to this business as it’s still in the planning stages- but I’m excited by the prospect of making an impact even if in a small way. I’d rather put 100% into it and see how far things can travel then to complain about what’s not going on and not do anything about it. Look at your own world, your own community, find the need that gives you a charge and start filling it. Overall this would make the earth a happier, healthier place.

Start of Vacation

April 16, 2010

It’s the beginning of my work vacation. My daughters will be off as well for their school vacation. We are planning some day trips so we can get out and do things, but we aren’t going very far away. That’s fine with me though. I firmly believe that you need to engage in a number of relaxing activities to regain productivity in both your work life as well as your personal life.

We are taking advantage of the passes our local library offers for discounts to enjoy some community outings we want to engage in. So we will go to a local aquarium and a few museums that we want our children to enjoy. I’ll be able to get more music reviews and interviews in for my creative pursuits. I’m sure I’ll be writing daily in my journal, and also make sure to get in 60 minutes of reading per day.

It will be nice to get regular sleep for the week as well. My body does get used to sleeping on 5-6 hours a day, and I think I’ll be able to do more with a couple more hours of sleep per day. It’s just resetting my body clock so that I can face the future with the promise of a better family and a better life overall.

Some of the books I will be reading over the next week include material by Seth Godin, Brian Tracy, and Douglas C. Merrill among others and I’m sure I will take notes and discuss the best of their ideas that I want to apply to my life. I like having a variety of material to take in, from personal development to finances to organization to self-help and self-improvement. I enjoy the journey, the continual learning and application directly to areas of my life that I know I can get better at.

My oldest daughter will be participating in animal therapy starting next week, and has started the process of working with a therapy mentor. She needs consistent support in terms of her self-esteem as well as working on the trauma and teenage issues that seem to be colliding at the same time. We want her to know that we are patient, we are loving, we are kind and we will be there in the long run. If I could take those pieces of her life out and change the picture for the better, I would. The keys are using her therapy skills in the moment- and knowing when to seek outside help if she feels like she can’t handle it all.

I think I’ve babbled on enough for now. Take care of yourself, decide to work on one area of your life that you feel needs improvement and set it up on a calendar for a 30 day learning experience. Maybe you can cut out soda for 30 days, maybe you can exercise a minimum of 20 minutes a day for 30 days, maybe it’s consistently reading for an hour a day for 30 days. Challenge yourself, grow, stretch and I think you’ll be surprised with the benefits.

Be The Best Role Model

March 8, 2010

I’ve learned through the years that being a role model is very important to my wife and children. I believe strongly that what you give is what you get, and if you take teaching responsibility and respect through your words and your actions, your family will also follow suit.

I’m proud of the fact that we’ve worked hard to develop their public skills to the point that they know how to behave in public, they know how to use their manners, they know how to be thankful for what they receive, and they also know how to look people in the eye to make them feel important when they are listening to others speak. It didn’t happen overnight though. When you adopt children and they’ve never been taught basic skills, you have to work daily and in the moment to work things out.

I can’t say that I am perfect and live a 100% error free life. When I say or do something that I feel doesn’t reflect my values or normal standards, I will apologize to the people in question. Our in house therapist reminded my wife and I that while we have to understand the power of words, the number of interactions we have with our children means there will be times that we slip up in looking for the correct phrase or sentence in helping.

I take fatherhood seriously. I take my role as a husband seriously. I want the people in my life to know how important they are, how much I respect their opinions and the impact they have on who I am. We can’t expect people to live in truth if we chose not to live in truth ourselves.

Even if we believe our parents are not the best role models, I’m sure you can seek out a teacher, another adult family member or a counselor/ therapist to give you guidance and support. Understand that your children will often believe their peers and classmates are the best role models if they can’t get their needs met through an adult. You need to ask yourself if that’s what you really want to see happen as their minds and bodies are developing, learning about appropriate peer relations and the skills necessary to transition into adulthood.

I’m proud of the fact that my wife stuck to her guns this weekend in a situation where ethics came into play. She could have easily made one family member very happy, but it would have been at the expense of a lesson towards our daughters. She would lose credibility because she wouldn’t have followed through on the truth. We’ve always expressed to our children a quote I remember years ago from Brian Tracy: “we want you to tell the truth, the punishment becomes worse only when you live in lies.”

I don’t believe you have to be big, brash or bold to become a role model. Be who you are. Lead by example. People will follow especially when they see the rewards you receive from leading a good life.

Positive Self Talk

March 5, 2010

Here’s a friendly reminder thanks to two different sources: Brian Tracy and my oldest daughter’s therapist. Both have been giving feedback on the great quality of positive self-talk to maintain stability within your heart and mind.

It’s so easy to forget all the wonderful, unique qualities each person has and can excel in for their lives. It may be something as simple as a smile, a particular sense for fashion you have, the ability to make people feel at ease with conversation, your talent for cooking, and so on- but we need to remember daily how important we are as people and the good things we are doing in our lives.

You may look at this as a mental vitamin pill exercise, used to pump yourself up when you feel less than ideal about tackling the day. Stand in front of the nearest mirror and shout, “I like myself!” or “I am a worthwhile person!” or any other number of positive self-affirmations that will improve your self-confidence and self-esteem.

I remember positive self-talk getting me through some of the most amazing accomplishments in my life. Winning one of my first scholarship tournaments in high school for bowling, and then winning an individual college tournament for the New England region to represent our area in a national bowling competition. Gaining the opportunity to start a business with my best friend that went on to an incredible 18 year run together. Meeting and marrying my wonderful, incredibly special wife. Interviewing some of the best bands in the metal music industry and getting the chance to review their albums through the years or attend concerts to see them play.

I could name 50 other great things, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to reflect on all that you’ve been able to do, see and be in your life from time to time. I think in the hustle and bustle of our rush/rush lives to get from place to place, we don’t really spend enough time processing and taking even 5 minutes a day to remember the good in ourselves and the great qualities others recognize in us.

Once you get comfortable doing this on a daily basis with yourself (preferably when you first arise for the day and at the end before you head to sleep), work on developing these skills for other family members. Children who are going through so much stress and chaos are easy to look at all the negativity they encounter and sometimes forget about the greatness within themselves. Bring back a special moment where they were the star or accomplished something that they never thought they would ever achieve. Sort of like a positive roast where you pay accolades for the specialness of the family member.

I would like to thank my family and good friends who’ve been expressing their appreciation and concern for me and my family over the past few weeks and months. I’m positive that great things are on the horizon for all of us in the very near future. Believe in yourself, take one step forward each day and don’t be afraid if you occasionally veer off on the wrong path. It’s better to take some form of action than to engage in a stall pattern and believe you can’t do anything at all.