Wow, where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday when we toasted the new millennium, but here we are, about to ring in 2015. Sure, it’s a cliché phrase, but time really does fly by.
Time’s a funny thing, isn’t it? When we’re having a blast, it feels like someone is pushing the “fast forward” button. In contrast, if we have a two-point lead with three minutes left in the game, it feels like an eternity. When we’re suffering through a valley, we can’t wait for time to pass by.
Whether time flies or moves at glacial speed, we still have 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and no choice in the matter. We use it or lose it. And, because time is one of our most prized possessions, we need to use it wisely.
How can you become a good manager your of time?
Simply practice these tips:
Treat your time as a precious asset with limited capacity (this mindset is huge!)
Organize a to-do list by urgency (deadline) and priority (importance). Take both into account when deciding what to focus on each day.
“Block” your time (i.e., group it in 30-60 minute intervals without interruption) in order to complete your highest priority assignments. Avoid interspersing lower priority tasks within your high priority assignment intervals. Take control!
Don’t hesitate to politely tell someone that it’s an inconvenient time for you. Interruptions can destroy your productivity if you allow it. Always saying “yes” is not necessarily a good thing!
Learn to multi-task your lower priority responsibilities. For example, I rarely watch television without doing something else like reading the newspaper or responding to emails.
Keep your cell phone somewhere else when you need focused time. The temptation to answer calls and texts is a major distraction. Smart phones can be our worst enemy if we aren’t careful.
Find your best venue for focused work. Is it your home office? A coffee shop? Your patio?
Take periodic breaks. Studies show we’re less productive when we work over an hour straight without a five-minute break. Breaks help our mind recharge.
Respect and honor the time of others by being punctual. You’d want them to respect your time, too.
Always remember that you can’t recover the time you waste!
The older we get, the quicker time flies by. Regardless of our stage in life, it’s never too late to improve your time management skills and resources. Becoming a wise time manager is an admirable New Year’s Resolution. Is it yours?
How productive are you with your time? Do you view it as a precious asset and focus on your most important priorities? What are some ways you have learned to become a more effective time manager?
It’s been a great year at LifeSmart! We are filled with gratitude as What I Wish I Knew at 18 continues to impact the lives of young adults globally, and our newest book, Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World, receives rave reviews for encouraging and equipping parents (click here for more information).
Your life purpose is an incredibly powerful force that will direct your life and determine your legacy. Find a successful person who is content and fulfilled, and you’ll likely find a life guided by an inspired purpose or mission, and a person who has applied his or her God-given talents to a worthy cause.
In fact, without a strong sense of life purpose, even the most successful accomplishments can seem empty.
Knowing your life purpose–what makes you tick, what motivates you, what you are alive on earth to do–is what ignites passion. Passion inspires initiative and creativity. It builds momentum and creates enthusiasm. It also sustains hope and perseverance in difficult times, and provides a reason (and enthusiasm!) for getting out of bed every morning.
Life purposes can be cause-driven (e.g., curing a disease, educating disadvantaged youth, sheltering the homeless, cleaning the planet, protecting our country) or skill-driven (e.g., athletes, artists, mathematicians, designers). They also can evolve throughout your lifetime.
How can you discover your life purpose? Here are some questions to consider:
What causes (e.g., global or community needs, people, situations, organizations) am I most passionate about? What problems would I most like to solve? What needs or people tug at my heart?
What inspires me the most?
What brings me the greatest joy and fulfillment?
Whose lives would I most like to emulate and why?
What are my special gifts and talents?
Where can my skills have the greatest potential impact?
Once you ponder these questions, see if a picture emerges. Then, as that picture solidifies into an identifiable sense of purpose, calling, and passion, start thinking about how you can live it out.
Whatever you do, don’t set your life purpose on a shelf and forget about it. You are a unique individual with gifts, talents, and perspective only YOU can give to the world. No amount of money, fame, or accomplishment can ever compete with that.
Someday, you’ll want to be able to look back on your life and say, “Mission accomplished!” What’s your mission? Are you living it out with purpose and passion? If you’re a parent or teacher, find out what the young adults in your life think about their life purpose. Share your comments below; we’d love to hear from you!
Last week we talked about work ethic, and the need to educate our young people to work hard, take personal responsibility, and say “no” to the entitlement mentality. All important!
On the other hand, there is an equally insidious trap we want to help them avoid: workaholism.
My own father worked very hard at his job of coloring the bright construction paper at a Wisconsin paper mill. But when his work was done, it was done. He was able to devote his free time to family and interests by not taking his work home with him.
Today’s workplace is completely different. We’re now a service economy in the information age. Consequently, our work life today is much more knowledge-based and open-ended. While this makes for a more exciting work environment, it does have its downside. We tend to take our work home with us, and, if we’re not careful, it can easily consume our free time.
And now with our cell phones becoming virtual appendages, we’re always “on call” –a new source of overwork and distraction.
Don’t get me wrong. Your career will be a key component of your life. However, more than any other aspect of your life, it has the greatest risk of taking over if you’re not careful. And, if you’re a student, remember there’s more to life than your books. Your studies, too, can be all consuming if you let them.
If you allow your work or studies to dominate, and can’t let them go during your free time, you’ll suffer burnout and starve your relationships. (Recall from a previous blog that the most common life regret of elderly people is not spending enough time with loved ones.)
Always remember to stay balanced and invested in other areas of your life to keep things healthy and happy. People need you and you need them!
Are you able to leave your work behind and “switch off” at the end of the work day? Consider passing this along to a friend or young adult for them to consider, “tweet” it, or share it to Facebook. And please share YOUR thoughts with US by commenting below; we’d love to hear from you.
Let’s face it. Most of us like to be in control. Control gives us freedom, power, and confidence that we can steer our course.
As kids head off to college, they’re about to be in the driver’s seat for the rest of their life. Ah, the sweet feeling of “control.” They can’t wait! But is it really that easy? The answer, of course, is “No.”
Soon college students and those heading out into the work force will be free from their parents’ oversight, but much will remain outside of their control. Are they prepared for it? Consider these potential real world examples:
Their roommate is a disaster
They just bombed their calculus final—so much for majoring in math!
Just when they’re about to graduate and search for employment, the economy tanks
They don’t land the job they desperately wanted
They don’t care for their new supervisor
It rains on their wedding day
A boyfriend or girlfriend announces he or she wants to date other people
Someone they love is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness
Control? Yeah, right! Although young adults are increasingly becoming more independent, they’ll quickly learn that not even they have control over their lives. Unexpected road bumps and potholes are the norm. When they occur, we all have to deal with each unique situation the best we can. Incidentally, most of the above happened to me!
Basically, we all have two choices. A common approach is to stew about the circumstances and be consumed with self-pity. The other approach is to accept the things you can’t control and make the best out of the situation. You may not like the circumstances, but you work the problem and focus on what you can control. For those who believe in God, it’s also a time of prayer, trust, and faith that things will work out okay. PERSEVERE!
It’s important for young people—for all of us, really—to understand that we have a choice in how to deal with matters beyond our control. For your own sake and for those around you, adopt the second approach. It’s not always easy but it’s far better than the alternative!
How do you handle things when life doesn’t go your way? Do you dwell on the things you can’t control, or can you let them go? How have you taught healthy strategies to the young people in your life … please share your ideas and comments below!
These days, that’s the most popular answer when I ask someone, “How have you been?” We’re either rushing ourselves or our kids from here to there, getting stuck in a fast-paced rut, and all too often not finding the time to do the things we really want to do! Something tells me it wasn’t always this way.
Are you someone who focuses your life in just a few areas? Do you find yourself complaining about being stuck in a “rut,” or are your interests varied and your experiences diverse? Do you pace yourself, or run full steam ahead?
One way to gauge this—and have a more measured approach to life—is to take a “personal diversity survey.” Think of the following important areas of your life:
Relationships—family and friends
Marriage and parenting
Career or school
Travel and leisure
Arts and nature
Consider how you’re allocating your time to these areas. Is it spread out or concentrated in only a few areas? Variety will diversify who you are and enrich your life. But, it means taking control of our “busyness.”
Here’s a suggestion: This week, talk to your family about how each person might diversify his or her life. Ask them to contribute some of their ideas for how to pursue new interests and activities. Then take one idea from your discussion and DO IT!
How varied are your interests and how balanced is your life? Reflect on the above list and identify potential areas in which you are “under-spending” in your life. Is it time to spread things around a little? Share your comments below; we’d love to hear from you!
I have just returned home after experiencing the two most amazing weeks of my life. It will take some time to fully comprehend what just happened. In the meantime, I am filled with joy and gratitude toward the people of Indonesia.
On this, my first trip to Southeast Asia, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Would my message of developing young leaders resonate with children and adults? Would I make it without saying something culturally stupid? Would I like the food? Would we have a productive trip that would build strong momentum for our What I Wish I Knew at 18 book and course? All of these thoughts ran through my mind as I departed from Seattle on July 29.
Before I left, I told my co-publisher, Laura Prinsloo of Kesaint Blanc Publishing, that I was there to serve them. That meant I wanted a full schedule of meetings with as many influential leaders as possible. She took me up on my offer…and then some! I was booked from early morning to late evening with speaking engagements throughout the Jakarta and Bali areas—worship services, schools, radio broadcasts, book launchings, conventions (World Harvest and Call2Business), business/parenting seminars, you name it. I would be speaking to young people and adults…and to people of all faiths. We would speak, have Q&A, and sign books and take lots of pictures.
Armed with 12 different Powerpoint presentations, I came prepared for any circumstance…and everything went without a hitch! And, each time, I was greeted so warmly by the people of Indonesia.
I have too many memories to list here, but a few really stand out. One was my first presentation…to a Muslim school in Jakarta. The room was filled with some 100 students and educators. My talk was called “Developing the Great Leaders of Tomorrow.” My reception and message from this audience were overwhelming. (In fact, we received three invitations to speak at other schools that week!) I loved interacting with the students (mostly high schoolers) afterwards for book signings and pictures. But, it was my conversation with an elderly lady that was the most memorable of all.
She told me that Indonesian children are often raised by absentee fathers and implored me to tell the adults in each of my upcoming meetings that the fathers must get more involved in raising their children. It was a very powerful and moving conversation and I promised her I would. And, I did.
I met with four Muslim schools and each time my message was overwhelmingly received. The questions I received from these children were so heartfelt and deep. Questions like:
Mr. Dennis, I am not strong in academics. Can I still become a great leader?
Mr. Dennis, can you help me learn to enjoy the process of life?
Mr. Dennis, can you tell me how to convince my father that I want to live my own dream?
After each talk, the children came up to me and said that I inspired them. But, as far as I’m concerned, they were the ones who did the inspiring! It is an indescribable blessing to be placed in a role where I can share wisdom and hope to young people around the world. I am grateful to God and for the people of Indonesia who gave me the chance.
In less than two weeks, we made amazing connections with leaders of influence in each of our target audiences. We are off to a great start and discussions are already underway regarding my next visit (and maybe even a TV show!). It’s truly difficult to capture in words how our work is being received and the Divine appointments we received each day.
So, Indonesia, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your warmth and affection. I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon!
In last week’s blog we discussed how to live within your means and generate positive cash flow by conservatively estimating your INCOME. But that’s only half of the equation. You must also carefully manage and control what you spend.
When it comes to the EXPENSE side of the equation, your goal is to spend less than you earn on a regular basis. This is how you generate positive cash flow and have money available to invest. However, for many people, this is the most difficult part of managing their finances, for several reasons:
They don’t keep track of it and develop a budget. Those small items can add up!
They fail to consider seasonal expenditures (e.g., gifts, vacations, and property taxes).
They have no idea how expensive children and pets are!
They don’t appreciate how much more expensive it is to own a home than rent an apartment.
They forget about finance charges on credit card balances.
They live a more lavish lifestyle than they can afford:
They’re lured into spending on impulse items.
They purchase big-ticket items such as homes and cars that are far too expensive for their budget.
They assume that if they purchase it on credit, they’ll figure out a way to pay for it later.
They place too much value on possessions and expensive brands in order to impress others.
They’re too impatient—wanting it now rather than saving up for it.
It’s essential to discipline yourself to spend less than you make (thereby generating positive cash flow) and regularly measure your progress. Remember that if your cash flow is negative, your options are to: 1) increase your income (not always possible!) and/or 2) reduce or postpone your expenses.
One of the best ways to generate positive cash flow is to set up an automatic savings plan where a set percentage of your income is placed in an investment program each month. It will force you to save and help you resist the temptation to overspend. Do you monitor your spending versus your income to ensure you’re living within your means? This is true whether you’re a college student on a modest income or an executive earning seven figures. Share your comments and questions: we’d love to hear your experiences and ideas!
Money will never make you completely happy—but mismanaging it can be a life wrecker!
Money problems are among the top reasons for divorce, alcoholism, and suicide in our country. For these, and many other reasons, it’s critical to become a wise manager of your financial resources. You should consider this one of your greatest priorities and our nation’s educators should too.
Having a positive (and growing net worth) is essential for all of us, and the good news is it’s not rocket science. Simply put, it requires two things: 1) living within your means by spending less than you make and 2) building long-term wealth through a regular savings and investment program. This will set you up for success in both the short- and long-term.
In order to generate positive cash flow, you must spend less than you make. That means conservatively estimating your income and ensuring you have a “cushion” left over after all of your spending. Trouble sets in when you either overestimate your income or underestimate your spending.
Here’s where many run into trouble on the INCOME side:
They forget that their take-home pay is roughly 60% of their gross salary (after taking into account deductions like federal and state income taxes and Social Security)
They assume that a spike in their income is the new “normal” level of earnings and ratchet up their spending accordingly.
They assume their strong investment returns in the recent past will persist.
It’s important to recognize whether your career provides a steady or volatile income. Generally speaking, the more your income is tied to sales (e.g., real estate agents) or project work (e.g., writers, architects, actors) the more it will fluctuate over time. This income pattern presents unique challenges in your financial planning because you can’t forecast the next few years based on the recent past.
Consequently, people often overestimate their future income when they just had a great year. Then, they increase their spending just when their income falls back to normal. Not good!
Don’t fall into this trap. Plan your income conservatively—it’s far better to be positively surprised than disappointed!
What are some ways you’ve learned to live within your means and generate a positive cash flow? Have you developed creative and effective ways of showing these principles to your own children or students? Share ideas and questions by commenting below; we’d love to hear from you!
Have you ever noticed that some people who seem to have it all (e.g., good looks, smarts, sense of humor) often “flunk the test” in social and business settings?
At one time or another, each of us loses an audience. Whether from excessive detail, uninteresting subject matter, overlong monologues, or an unappealing style, we sometimes miss the mark. It’s never fun for either party, but the good news is we can limit the damage.
Great communicators carefully analyze nonverbal cues. They study their audience’s facial and body language to see the impression they’re making. Where needed, they make midcourse corrections along the way.
Conversely, we’ve all been around people who have no idea how poorly they’re coming across—especially in social situations. It can take the forms of poor hygiene, irritating habits, boring conversation, or trying too hard to impress. Usually, we don’t have the heart to tell them, hoping they’ll eventually get the hint from our cues.
When you’re with others—socially or professionally—be attentive to how they react to you. Their feedback, often unspoken, is extremely valuable and will allow you to adapt if it’s unflattering. Study their eyes and facial expressions, as well as their body language. If they appear bored, quickly get to the point, raise your enthusiasm meter, or involve them more in the conversation.
Your ability to successfully communicate is a vitally important skill to master. By being sensitive to your audience, you’ll improve your odds immensely.
Have you learned to monitor others’ reactions to you? How do you respond?
Post your comments here on our website or visit us on my Facebook fan page; we’d love to hear from you! And, as always, please share us with your followers,friends, colleagues, or young adults in your life. We’ve all got room to grow!