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Every year, many couples seek out ways to build deeper intimacy with their spouses and partners. Some find themselves at a loss to find a way to develop a stronger bond with their partners. Intimacy is a set of feelings that arises out of two people’s commitment to create an emotional safe haven for each other. Building and nurturing intimacy in your personal relationships takes work but is not impossible. Like a delicate flower, intimacy must be allowed to grow and flourish. It must be watered and fed with acts of love, kindness and trust. Becoming deeply intimate with your partner is not impossible, but does require nurturing and attention.

Fostering Trust

Trust is an absolute necessity when building deeper intimate connections to your partner. Without trust, a person cannot demonstrate the vulnerability necessary to maintain and intimate bond. After an erosion of trust, such as an affair, it may be harder to rebuild the level of intimacy that the couple previously enjoyed. However, it is not impossible. Trust can be demonstrated in a number of ways.

Being dependable is a major way to prove trustworthiness. If your partner is expecting you to be available to them and you are not, it can erode trust and block intimacy.
Keeping confidences. The quickest way to damage an intimate relationship is to share private, personal information with people outside the relationship. If your partner can’t be sure that you will keep their secrets it prevents them from opening up to you intimately.

Defending your partner is essential to preserving your bond. Don’t allow outsiders to mistreat or degrade your partner, even if those outsiders are family members or close friends.

Verbal Communication

In creating intimacy with your partner, it is imperative to have strong verbal communication. As is often the case, intimacy breaks down when one partner is non-communicative and avoids expressing concerns about the direction of the relationship. Additionally, the non-communicative partner may not be forthcoming when things are going well with the relationship, leading the other partner to guess about the direction and well being of the union.

In order for intimacy to grow, the couple must exercise regular, positive verbal communication. Verbal communication also includes actively listening to your partner and acknowledging his thoughts and feelings. This may be in-person communication, phone conversations, letters, cards and gifts. Positive verbal communication is essential to building and maintaining intimacy in relationships.

  • Share your deepest thoughts, fears, feelings and beliefs with your partner. Opening up fully shows trust, which is paramount to any intimate relationship. Sharing helps the couple grow as a team and solidifies intimacy.
  • Listen to your partner. Remember small details about conversations you’ve had with your partner. Asking about her meeting at work shows her that you’re listening to what she’s sharing with you, and that it’s important enough for you to remember.
  • Tell your partner how you’re feeling. If he does something that makes you happy, let him know! Some people make the mistake of telling everyone else how wonderful their partner is—-except their partner. Letting your spouse know how appreciated and valued he is gives him the spiritual boost he needs to become more intimate with you.

Quality Time

Building intimacy with your partner requires time. In order for intimacy to grow, both partners have to be willing to spend quality, focused time with each other. They must pay attention to the needs of their relationship, and feed and nurture it as needed. Quality time should include time alone—away from work stresses, children, friends and distractions. The couple seeking a stronger intimate relationship should devote a set amount of time on a regular basis to be alone and have face-to-face time together. It is common in marital relationships for the couple’s focus to be on raising the children. Although it is important for the family to spend quality time together, a set amount of time should be dedicated to the nurturing of the couple’s relationship without the demands of parenting.

  • Plan a date night with your spouse only. Make this a regular routine. Do not schedule any other activities to interfere with date night. Use this time to recharge and reflect on the positive parts of your relationship.
  • Take a vacation alone. Taking vacations without children or other couples can be a great way to rebuild an intimate connection with your partner. Vacations don’t have to be expensive or exotic. A vacation may include sending the children to a relative’s home for the weekend and spending the time alone together.
  • Turn off all distractions. Quality time means focusing solely on your partner and your relationship. Turn of cell phones, don’t answer the door and turn off the television. This shows your partner that they have your undivided attention and that they are of great importance to you.

Gift Giving

Surprising your significant other with gifts is a fantastic way to show affection and build deeper intimacy. Giving gifts shows thoughtfulness and appreciation, and gives your relationship a boost. According to Gary Chapman, author of “Love Languages,” gift giving is one of the primary ways couples forge intimate relationships.

Gift giving is an expression of love and affection that lets the other partner know that they are appreciated. A key to building deeper intimacy is to listen to your partner’s feelings on the importance of gifts. One partner may feel that giving gifts is unimportant, while the other may feel unappreciated and unloved if they do not receive gifts. A partner who does not give gifts for birthdays, holidays and special occasions may be unintentionally blocking the path to greater intimacy. In addition to making your partner feel appreciated, giving gifts actually helps the giver feel more connected by reinforcing their position as a nurturer, provider and caregiver of the relationship. Thoughtful gift giving is one of the simplest, yet most important ways that we can develop intimate bonds with our partner.

  • Give gifts for no reason at all. Giving your partner gifts between holidays and special occasions shows that you appreciate them every day, for who they are and what they do.
  • Choose gifts based on your partner’s likes and preferences. Choosing the right gift shows thoughtfulness. It shows that you care enough to remember what makes them happy. Showing thought in selecting the right gift is far more important than the amount of money spent on the gift.

Shared Experiences

Experiencing life’s events together is another way to build and maintain intimacy in your partnership. These experiences need not always be positive in order for them to bring the couple closer together. In fact, many couples report a stronger sense of closeness after experiencing a tragedy or loss together. Sharing life’s ups and down creates a bond that is not easily broken. Couples seeking greater intimacy should seek out new and varied experiences in which to share.

Taking a trip, watching a movie, participating in a class together and learning a new skill are great ways to promote intimacy through shared experiences. Bonding through recreational or competitive activities is a great way to build a better relationship. Having an interest in and knowledge of your partner’s favorite activities creates a sense of togetherness, trust and warmth. Sharing a favorite movie, creating inside jokes and going to a favorite restaurant are all ways to build and share intimacy. There are many life events that help to build intimacy.

  • Birth or adoption of a child. Adding a new baby to the family can enhance your bond as a parenting team.
  • Moving to a new city or town. Although moving is stressful, moving to a new location can bring the couple closer as they work to re-establish themselves in the new community,
  • Death or tragedy in the family. Losing a loved one is a stressful life event that can upend any family. Lean on your partner for support and offer a loving and caring haven for your spouse.
  • Learning a new skill together. Engaging in a new activity as a couple is a great way to reconnect and solidify bonds with your partner.

Expressing Appreciation Verbally

Sometimes all it takes is a simple “thank you” to give your partner a spiritual lift and add intimacy to your relationship. Often, many partners immensely appreciate the things that their spouses do for them, yet fail to express that appreciation in words. Many partners prefer to express their appreciation in non-verbal ways, but fail to realize the importance of verbal confirmation.

Let your partner know that their small gestures are appreciated. Thank your partner for sitting through two hours of a movie they hated, just so that you could enjoy it. Thank your spouse for taking out the trash when it was your day to do it. Many couples don’t realize how much of an impact simple recognition has on the health of their relationship. The more a spouse verbally expresses his appreciation, the more motivated his partner will be to replicate the positive behavior.

  • Make sure your appreciation is genuine. Offering insincere gratitude is more damaging than helpful and your spouse can see right through it. An example of insincere gratitude would be making a statement like “thanks for washing the dishes for once.”
  • Make the gratitude specific. Statements that address the specific behavior and how it affected you are most effective. Statements like “thanks for putting gas in my car. It saved me so much time on my way to work this morning,” show your sincerity and make your partner feel as though they are nurturing and protecting you.
  • Accept compliments from your partner. Remember that compliments benefit not only the receiver, but also the giver. Not accepting compliments erodes intimacy, because it signals that you don’t trust your partner’s judgment or opinions. Accepting compliments graciously is an effective way to become deeply intimate in your relationship.
  • Praise your partner publicly. Tell his friends and family how much you appreciate him and all that he does for you. Thank her parents for raising her into the woman that she is. At the next family get-together, mention how great he is at fixing things around the house and how you don’t know how you would keep your sanity without him. Praising your partner openly creates the good feelings that lead to greater intimacy.

Physical Contact

The need for human touch is universal. It is a physiological need that all humans desire. It is such a crucial need that studies have shown that babies who are not touched regularly often suffer health problems and, in extreme cases, die. People who are touched in a loving, compassionate manner are more communicative, deal better with stress and are more alert and open. According to WebMd, neurons respond positively to human touch in anxiety-provoking situations. Sometimes a simple touch is all it takes to change a person’s mood and make them more open to feeling loving experiences.

Creating deeper intimacy with your partner is literally at your fingertips. Touching your partner on a regular basis is key to restoring and maintaining good feelings in your relationship. Pay attention to how much you touch your partner on a regular basis. Engaging in positive physical contact can be accomplished in a number of ways.

Hold your partner’s hand; lightly brush her arm with your hand when you pass her, rest your hand on his knee while he’s driving. Couples who touch each other affectionately on a regular basis report greater satisfaction and happiness in their intimate relationships. Subtle ways of making physical contact have a huge impact on your relationship and foster an environment ripe for building deeper intimacy.

  • Hold hands in public. This is a signal to the world that the two of you are an inseparable team. Holding hands is a simple, yet highly intimate way to give your partner affectionate physical contact.
  • Make touch a part of your routine. Kiss your partner as he leaves the house. Greet your spouse at the door with a hug as she returns from work. Having a routine of touching gives your partner something to look forward to.
  • Make time for physical contact. With hectic schedules and busy lives, many couples unintentionally neglect each other. Take time to reconnect with your partner. Set aside 30 minutes a day to sit quietly and hold each other.

Spiritual Togetherness

For a couple to have spiritual intimacy, they must have a shared set of beliefs in a power greater that transcends them. Couples can build spiritual intimacy by sharing in worship services, spiritual rituals, prayer or other dictates of their beliefs. Being spiritually intimate involves knowing what values are most important to the couple and sharing in them together. Sharing in spiritual beliefs brings you and your partner on the deepest level and brings your deepest values into agreement. Creating a spiritual bond helps couples resist the temptations that threaten and erode intimacy. Couples can create deeper spiritual intimacy in a number of ways.

  • Attending formal worship services and rituals together. Worshipping together reinforces the spiritual bond and gives the couple a supportive community in which to grow.
  • Participating in prayer, chanting or other spiritual practices. Praying and participating in spiritual rituals together unite the couple as a cohesive unit and create firm bonds.
  • Fellowshipping with other couples of the same spiritual faith. Couples who maintain relationships with other couples who share their faith find greater satisfaction in their own relationships. They find that they are more accountable to each other and have a greater intimate connection.

Sexual Contact

Many couples mistake having a sexual relationship with having a sexually intimate relationship. Sex can occur outside of intimacy, just as intimacy can occur without sex. Couples can build intimacy through sexual contact by allowing openness, vulnerability and communication to be the cornerstones of their sexual relationship.

A partner needs to feel loved, validated and appreciated in order to have strong sexual intimacy. They need to be able to express desires without feeling judged or ashamed. When couples feel free of shame and guilt, they see sexual contact as a way of expressing their deepest desires for their partner. Sexual contact is seen as healthy and natural. Couples need to feel secure in their level of commitment to their partner in order to experience true sexual intimacy.

Many couples destroy opportunities for sexual intimacy by using manipulation and coercion. Other relationships lack sexual reciprocity, which is necessary for building deeper intimacy. Sexual intimacy is often overlooked in relationships, and can be all but forgotten amidst the minutiae of parenting, paying bills and household chores. In order to have deeper sexual intimacy, couples must make regular sexual contact a priority in their relationship. Sexual contact seems to decline as couples age. Creating deeper intimacy with a spouse is important at any age.

According to Dr. Janice Swanson, doctor of psychology, licensed psychologist and sex therapist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, when confronted with the physical and emotional changes that accompany aging, many couples feel as awkward and ill prepared as they did during their first experiences. Couples who have been together for many years often have strong intimacy in other areas of their relationship, yet lack sexual intimacy. The key to building deeper intimacy is to recognize and acknowledge these changes and to find ways to make sexual intimacy a new and exciting journey.

Acceptance

Accepting your partner for who they are—flaws and all— is paramount in gaining deeper intimacy. In any relationship, both partners need to feel free to be who they are, without fear of disapproval from their partner. Understanding that your partner is imperfect, and has some characteristics that may never change is essential. Being accepted by your significant other is a key step in being able to open up and be vulnerable, thus creating more intimacy in the relationship. Accept that your partner is a separate individual, who may not see the world as you do. Embrace his idiosyncracies and decide that he is worthy of your love an affection in spite of them. In return, your partner should accept you, and see the flawed individual who is worthy of love and appreciation. In becoming more deeply intimate, partners should wholly accept their partners, not just tolerate them.

Conflict Resolution

In any intimate relationship, there will be conflict. Avoidance of conflict is actually unhealthy, and can be a barrier to intimacy. Couples seeking greater intimacy should aim to resolve conflicts in a loving and respectful manner. Intimacy grows when one partner knows that he is free to express displeasure, anger or resentment without derailing the relationship.

Effective conflict resolution builds intimacy by making both partners understand that their investment into the relationship will not be threatened by expressing negative feelings. When conflict is resolved in a respectful and peaceable manner, intimacy grows and flourishes.

  • Attack the problem, not the person. When solving conflict, it’s important that your partner knows that even though there is a problem, your relationship is still based in love and trust. Make sure she knows that even though you are in the midst of a disagreement, you still love and respect her. The security of knowing that she is still loved makes it easier to resolve conflict and preserve your connection.
  • Address conflicts immediately. Allowing problems to go unaddressed causes pent-up frustration and resentment. After a while, conflicts that are not resolved cause a breakdown in communication, the withholding of loving affection and decreased quality time. Unresolved conflict is a major way to damage your intimate bond with your partner.

There are many ways to be deeply intimate in your relationships. By fostering trust, communicating in a positive manner and sharing experiences, intimacy will bloom and grow. Becoming deeply intimate in your relationships is a journey, not a destination. It is an ongoing process that, if allowed to flourish will repay you with years of happiness with your partner.

Further Reading

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How to Change Your Attitude & Perspective

It began as early as the Bible:

“Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and ye shall find.” Matthew 7:7

“What so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them and you shall have them.” Mark 11:22-24

Norman Vincent Peale, in 1952, wrote the bestseller “Power of Positive Thinking” which sold over 20 million copies in 41 languages.

Venice Bloodworth wrote about positive thoughts and their power in “The Key to Yourself”.

“The Secret” made a national splash a couple years ago detailing how you can obtain your heart’s desires by believing you have them and keeping positive thoughts at all times.

With access to more knowledge, possessions, material things, and “stuff” than any generation in history, people are still desperately seeking a higher meaning to obtaining life’s riches and happiness. The principles have been around from the beginning of human thought; the presentation of those ideas and ideals just get repackaged in different formats.

The premise is the same, and it is so simple. Basically, you are what you think. So, we should all be millionaires living in mansions working at our true desires. What’s the problem?

Law of Attraction

The law of attraction says that you bring to you those things that you think about the most. If your thoughts are continually negative, you will get negative outcomes in everything that you do. If you think positive thoughts, are clear about what you want, and have the conviction that you will receive what you are asking for, then your outcomes will be positive. You also have to maintain a constant state of gratitude for all that surrounds you. If you see a pretty flower, be thankful for the experience. Give to the Universe in all ways and in return you will receive greatness.

That sounds so easy and uncomplicated. Of course you can think positive thoughts, be thankful, and volunteer your time so that you will achieve your desires.

Then how come we aren’t all rich and happy? Maybe it is time to adjust our attitudes (how we think) and perceptions (how we see the world).

Intention

The power of Intention is a strong component of the law of attraction. You have to stay focused on your intention at all times because what you think, you manifest. So careless thinking, even for one moment, will hinder your process in attaining your goals. You have to be diligent every minute of every day.

Ahh…there’s the rub. That’s why most people never achieve their desires and goals. We have a tendency to view the world with a negative focus, partly due to our daily experiences in life. No one lives a continually rosy existence. And since we think based on what we experience every day, it’s no wonder many of our thoughts are negative in scope.

Most people are not clear on the Intention portion of attracting what they want. We often think that if we say “I want to be a successful entrepreneur”, then that is what will happen. Or, “I wish to win the lottery” will result in money beyond our dreams. By using those phrases, all we will do is stay in the state of “want” and “wish”. It requires a total shift in the way we think and/or express our desires in order to reach the greatness we aspire to achieve. And remember, that greatness does not have to equate to money. It can also be love, happiness, respect, friendship, and a myriad other things people wish for everyday.

Attitude Adjustment

Changing your attitude begins with changing how you think.

Shifting Thoughts

The current guru of pop psychology, Dr. Phil, often states that, “we cannot change what we do not acknowledge”. Those words resonate! First we have to acknowledge who we are and how we think, truthfully and brutally, before we can ever shift our thought processes.

People usually never think of themselves as negative in their attitudes or perspectives. Perhaps it’s hard because often we don’t understand what constitutes negative thoughts and words. If you think or say things such as:

  • Why does Mary always have to dress that way? It makes her look so cheap.
  • My boss gets on my nerves. He always wants to be right.
  • Why can’t you just eat what I prepared for dinner?

You are approaching life from the negative. You are choosing to see what is wrong, instead of either accepting what is, or seeing the good in things.

Perceptive Exercise

For one day, monitor your thoughts constantly. Even when you are by yourself just driving in the car, think about what you are thinking about. Are you angry and upset about traffic? Or about an incident that happened at work? Are you thinking about how you are going to give someone a piece of your mind for what they said or did? Are you seeing ugly houses or landscaping that you don’t like?

Monitor your thoughts and opinions, and then truthfully assess whether or not you are approaching life through the negative. Even if your opinions are true, do you only focus on unpleasant people and things?
This is a perceptive exercise instead of a perception exercise, because you will become very perceptive, or aware, of how your mind tends to translate things.

Stop the Madness

Now that you are aware of your thoughts, it is important to understand how those thoughts translate to the actuality of your life. In A Course in Miracles, it states:

“I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the good I would achieve. And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.” (Chapter 21, Reason and Perception, II)

Ester and Jerry Hicks, in Ask and It Is Given, state “You are the creator of your own reality” (Chapter 3).

So you see why your thoughts, attitudes and perceptions are so important to the outcome of your life. If you want to change your attitudes and perceptions, you have to change the way you think about every aspect of your life.

Thought Patterns

Sounds simple, right? But it is very hard to do. We are a product of our upbringing, environment, and life experiences. Even people whose lives are really good and are experiencing success have negative thought patterns that need examining.

As I journeyed on the positive thought process, I found myself constantly reverting back to the old, destructive ways I had been thinking for years. I had to constantly tell myself STOP! There is no need to think that negative thought. Turn it around to the positive.

It is hard to do; but it gets easier each day. It will take weeks before you can even make a dent in changing.

Thinking Differently

Forcefully change your way of thinking into positive statements.

  • Mary has a cute little figure. And she is young and having fun with fashion.
  • My boss has a lot of good ideas. I will listen and see what I can learn.
  • I am learning what foods you like and how to prepare them so you enjoy eating.

Remember, you can’t change someone else. All you can do is change how you react to them. Don’t let someone steal your progress and joy by being negative towards them. It is better to just accept them as they are, or eliminate them from your frame of reference. It is your choice. You are in control.

Take time to learn from the thoughts you are changing. Ask yourself why you are always thinking that way. What circumstances in your life led you to be so unhappy in your thoughts? Go internal to understand who you are and how you can change. Each situation in life is a lesson that you are either learning, teaching, or facilitating between others. Those situations are there to teach you. If you keep repeating the same patterns, then you aren’t growing or learning life’s important lessons.

Changing Your Mind, Changing Your Attitude

You will find that your attitude will slowly adjust to align with how you think. It’s not something that you have to work on. As you start thinking in a more positive way, you will find that you are not as grumpy or judgmental because you have learned to let go of the need to try and change others or things out of your control. Once you realize that it is not your responsibility to tell people what to do and how to act, your attitude will be one of acceptance, and you learn to laugh off those things that you cannot change. The world begins to fill with humor as your attitude accepts all things from all people.

After a while, once I learned to think positive thoughts about situations that would have totally set me in a rage before, I found that my attitude was one of compassion towards bad situations. That compassion translated to how I spoke to people that were annoying, and found that they responded in a much gentler way once they realized that it was not going to be a fight or struggle. Calmly tell your demanding boss that he has so much to teach you, and ask him or her to explain further rather than just being turned off by the bad behavior, and watch that person change in how they treat you right before your eyes.

Perception is Reality

Ever hear that phrase? Are you starting to get it now? Your world is dictated by how you perceive reality. Negative perception…negative reality. Again, shift your perception and you will shift your reality.

Attitude of Gratitude

One premise of the law of attraction is to always be in a state of gratitude. Look around you every day and see reasons to be grateful. Did the sun come up this morning? Give thanks. Smile at the newspaper attendant or coffee server. Be patient if the lines are long for your morning bagel.

The attitude of gratitude also has to do with how you give back to the Universe. Do you volunteer at the community picnic, or at the Children’s hospital? Do you stop to help someone who looks lost and could be a tourist in town? Giving back of your talents and time, in the true spirit of simply giving, will reap rewards, based on all that you have sown. Don’t do it for any glory and recognition except that of how good you feel when the day is done.

Giving back is so important in reaping from the Universe. It focuses you on others rather than yourself, and you will find your perception of the world changing to one that is greater than you. Your ego takes a seat behind your gratefulness for the opportunity to share your talents with others. And slowly you will find that how you perceive everything about your world changes.

If a person expects the worse, that is what they will get. If you tell yourself, and the world, that you are not lucky and never win anything, then you have created your own reality. People who win the lottery are the ones who expect to win. They play with a positive attitude and true belief that they can win. And you can win! No matter how large the odds, someone always wins eventually. It really could be you!

Perceptive Changes

Just like the thought-changing process, you can apply the same principles to your perception. What is your view of your world?

  • I can’t go back to school to get my degree now. It will take too long.
  • I don’t know why I was born. I never seem to be able to find love and happiness.
  • I will never get that job. They always give it to people who suck up to the bosses.

Recognize any of you in those situations? Your basic belief system is more than just chanting positive affirmation to change the way you think. It is deeply intrinsic to who you are.

If you view the world in a very pessimistic way, you are defeating yourself before you can even try. Perception is a deep-rooted emotion that will take constant work and diligence to affect. And remember, always go to the root to try and figure out why your world-view is so unenthusiastic.

  • It may take me a long time to get my degree, but the time will pass anyway and I might as well have something positive at the end.
  • I am working to find my purpose. Love and happiness will return to me the more I give it to others. I am just going to relax and spread positive thoughts to everyone I meet.
  • I am going for that job! Even if I don’t get it this time, I will continue to learn and grow in order to meet my goals one day.

People who expect the worse get the worse. Change the channel and go into every situation with positive outcomes on your mind. Work around any obstacles, and be surprised if things don’t turn out well. Flip the script on your perspective and perception of your life.

How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?

Well… practice, practice, and practice. Changing attitudes and perceptions that have been carried for a lifetime are not easy. Monitoring thoughts throughout the day takes diligent focus. When those negative thoughts creep in, stop and think about them. Then banish them. Tell yourself that you don’t need to think that way anymore (I mean literally tell yourself that). Say to yourself that those situations are over, or not your problem, or just don’t matter anymore.

Many people last a few months, and then go back to the old way of believing and acting, because it does take patience and concentration to continually change habits. Those who successfully change and start benefiting from the abundance of the Universe find that paying attention to thoughts and deeds do matter.

So the choice is yours. Constant study helps you stay focused. The books I mentioned earlier in the article are great references. The Secret is also a book to have on hand. Other helpful resources online include howtoadvice.com/AttitudeAffirmation that goes into information on the conscious and subconscious mind connection. TheAttitudeDoc.com has lots of resources and articles that inform on changing attitudes.

But my most helpful mantra is the affirmation I have all over my house and that I say throughout the day. It comes from The Key to Yourself.

“I am healthy, strong, young, positive, loving, harmonious, successful, and happy.”

That just about covers everything!

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How to Ensure You Learn Something New Every Day

One fact is certain. Each of us only lives once, so it is vital to live life to the fullest and make the most out of this one opportunity. To do that, we must learn to develop right relationships, both with God and other people. Having good habits that relate to personal hygiene and a host of other worthwhile practices is also a great asset.

There is one habit, one daily activity, that will undeniably add zest and intellectual fulfillment to whatever number of years we have on this earth. That is the practice of learning something new every day. Developing a love of learning makes life richer in a variety of ways.

Developing a commitment to learning something new every day brings to mind the words Socrates spoke in the fifth century. While on trial for the heresy of teaching his students to think for themselves, even when it meant opposing the accepted beliefs of that day, he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” For each person today, just as for Socrates then, a constant inflow of information, accompanied by deep thought and critical thinking, adds immeasurable quality to the human experience.

Here are some suggestions that can help you experience the pleasure, excitement, intellectual growth and all the other benefits that come to the person who is continually learning. Sooner is better than later, so today would be the best time to start on this adventure.

Strategies to Improve Your Learning

Make a Commitment to Daily Learning

Write on paper your decision to learn each day at least one new thing you didn’t know before, and keep this promise to yourself in a place where you will frequently see it. Every time you are reminded and then follow through on actually learning something, you are building and strengthening a good habit. Before long, seeking out and learning something new each day will become so natural that you will no longer give it a thought. If you have not already been consciously doing daily learning this is an important first step.

Be Alert for New Facts

You can learn something new from many sources. Learning doesn’t just happen in classrooms; it can occur anytime and anyplace. Be alert at work, school, while attending a baseball game or wherever you are, for that moment when you see, hear or read something that causes you to say “Hey, that’s interesting. I want to remember that.” It can happen anywhere. Long after the rest of your day is forgotten, that single thing you learned can sparkle like a diamond and continue to enrich your life.

Develop an Attitude of Curiosity

Why? How? When? Where? Who? These are all great questions! You need not try to answer all, or even any, of these questions about every subject, but when something piques your interest, find out about it. You will tend to remember things that you are interested in and curious about. The information stored in your memory will flow into your thoughts like water runs downhill. Most children have a natural curiosity that they express by asking, “Why?” The tragedy is that so many adults lose this natural curiosity about who and why. Those who retain their natural curiosity often stand out and are called geniuses or gifted. Albert Einstein, the Wright Brothers and a host of others are remembered as people reputed to be ever curious. Most of us know people who are more curious by nature than those around them. Make a conscious effort to develop an attitude like that. It will make learning fun and give a sense of satisfaction as you learn to answer your own questions. Curiosity doesn’t “kill the cat,” it enriches the lives of those who experience it.

Read Daily

If your desire is to learn, reading is the magical key that very often opens the door to knowledge. Reading is basic to accumulating information. It is important to read from a wide variety of sources and not just one, single type of information, such as just newspapers or just magazines. It is easy to frequently learn new facts just from reading. Some excellent books to get acquainted with are a dictionary, a world almanac, an encyclopedia and other reference books. A library is a wonderful repository for a huge variety of books, and it is available to use for free. It is wise parents who begin to take their young children to the library and then continue to do so as their kids grow up. The best time to begin learning at least one new thing per day is while a person is still young. Books are also a great investment and make wonderful gifts. The invention and marketing of electronic readers make the purchase and reading of electronic books an even easier process. Reading widely and reading often will present you with an excellent opportunity to learn and grow wiser.

Talk to Experts

A fun way to go about learning new things is to talk with people who are smarter or more knowledgeable than you. Who does this description include? It includes almost everyone, because almost everyone is wiser or knows more about one, or more likely several, subjects than you are. It is okay to ask questions. Most people enjoy answering sincere questions and sharing their knowledge with those who are interested. Think about the people you know. There is surely one among them with special knowledge that you would enjoy having, too. A fringe benefit of this style of learning new things is you will not only learn, but will also probably develop new friendships. Gaining a new friend in this way will give an appreciation for that particular bit of learning achieved. The world is full of knowledgeable people. Go out and take advantage of that fact.

Leverage the Web

There is a wonderful source of information today that was not available until fairly recently. It is the Internet. You can locate facts and information about almost any subject that interests you. If at first you don’t succeed in finding what you seek, keep looking. In all probability, the information is there and can be found when you type the right combination of words into a search engine. The Internet has revolutionized how research is done and given an ease to school work, accounting and many other subjects that never existed before. Websites such as ehow.com, about.com, thisoldhouse.com and a host of others will take you step-by-step through the process of how to do almost anything. Today children grow up familiar with and well-able to use computers. If you are part of a slightly older generation and have few computer skills, you can often enlist your child or your grandchild to help you learn the “how to” of computer use. Information is easy to store on a computer, which is an advantage to learning your “something new each day” via the computer. You can always go back and double check whatever you have saved. A word of caution: not every piece of information on the Internet is accurate. If something you read doesn’t sound right, check another source.

Documentaries & Educational TV

Still another enjoyable way to learn is to watch educational television. There are fascinating programs filled with all kinds of interesting information on television. The major networks all carry some programs like that, but it is perhaps on the cable channels that you will find a mother lode of great information. The History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, National Public Broadcasting, the Discovery Channel and numerous other stations have many well-done, fact-filled programs that make learning simple and fun. Check them out. For those who have children, letting your kids watch this programming with you can help them develop their own love of learning. The earlier you start this practice, the better. There are things wrong with TV programming, but good stuff is there if you simply look for it.

Magazines & Newsletters

An eighth way to insure you learn something new every day is to subscribe to one, or a few, well-chosen magazines. It is amazing how many different magazines are available. There are many different ones that deal with hundreds of different subjects. A single issue can provide information for several days, or even weeks, of learning. They are also usually inexpensive when purchased by subscription. Subscribing also means that the magazine is delivered directly to your home which makes for great convenience. There are many reasons to subscribe to magazines, but perhaps none is better than doing so gains an excellent source for daily learning.

Personal Observation

There are other sources for information suitable for daily learning, but the last to be suggested in this article is personal observation. You can lower your stress level find peace of mind and experience the joy of a personally-developed learning opportunity through observing nature. A regular bird feeder on your deck, a careful observation of weather patterns or information gained as you work in the garden are just a few of the wonderful ways to learn through personal observation. It is guaranteed that everything you learn in this way will be practical and useful. People will be impressed by how much you have learned while they see the same things every day and yet have learned little or nothing. If a person had to choose just one source from which to learn, this would be an excellent choice.

Get Started Today

There are some tips that will help you get started in the life-long process of learning something new each day. They will make it simpler and more fun.

  1. Do not approach this as a job that has to be done or some kind of obligation. Look at it as an opportunity that will give you self-confidence and satisfaction.
  2. Always be alert, whatever you are doing, for an interesting fact or for how to do something that would be helpful for you to know. You will learn many valuable lessons without even realizing you are doing so.
  3. Use as many of your senses as possible to learn new facts. Write them down, so you can see them. Read them aloud, so you can hear them. This will help you to remember them.
  4. Share the information with another person and discuss the significance of it.
  5. Never assume that you are too old or too young to learn or that you already know everything that you need to know.
  6. Develop the tools needed to be successful at this undertaking. All you really need are an open mind, a willingness to learn and a source of information.
  7. Understand that there is far more to wisdom than just knowledge, but this activity, when done for the right reasons and in the right way, is a step toward wisdom.

Every day, in millions of homes, parents ask the question of their children, “What did you learn in school today?” The most frequent answer a child gives is, “Nothing.” So many parents, if they were asked the similar question, “What did you learn today?” would give the same answer, “Nothing.” That is as unfortunate as it is unnecessary. Why not, right now, take the first steps to insure that you learn something new every day?

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I Love Me; I Love Me Not…..

Not long ago I had one of those little moments that patiently hang around the subconscious only to reappear later for reflection. As always, the moment wedged itself into the busyness of routine activities when I was photographing the staff of an advertising agency for its website. You know how it goes: someone announces Photo Day, and thoughts immediately turn to hairstyles, neckties, make-up, and myriad other things people get sensitive about. We all do it. Yes, guys usually conceal it better than gals do, but the men are just as busy considering which suit projects the right degree of power, or which necktie color contrasts nicely. Such considerations about appearances are natural reactions. It’s what we humans do. We know people instantly decide whether they like the person in a picture. So, it’s no surprise we want to look good to be liked.

Inevitably at a photo session, there is that one person who knows exactly how she wants to be photographed. And sure enough, at this session, she rushed in late with her face fully made up, her hair carefully coiffed, and a choice of blouses slung over her shoulder. She was a svelte, middle-aged, single mom who wanted to project both her self-assurance and her availability, the latter not too brazenly – hence the choice of blouses. She pushed the camera and me around to realize her vision. I didn’t mind: I made the pictures she wanted, and then I followed up with those I wanted. Thank you, so much. Next person, please. And then, that little moment happened.

The next employee to photograph, Amy, simply walked in and sat down. She was moderately plump, not at all the waif-like model traipsing through glossy magazines. She settled herself, raked her hand through her hair and was ready. To be sure, she had put on make up, brushed her hair, and chosen a blouse, all in advance. The blouse was scoop-necked but not revealing. From behind me, the art director made small talk with Amy. There was the usual patter about hair, make up, and the color and manner in which the blouse complemented her color and shape. That’s when Amy popped out the words that stayed with me. She simply said, “I like my chest. I think I have a beautiful chest. I like to show it off. My husband tells me I am beautiful several times a day.” That’s it. There it was. We finished the pictures, and she went back to work.

Spoiler alert: we didn’t fall in love and live happily ever after. It wasn’t that kind of moment. What struck me was her contentment with herself just as she was. She didn’t compare her figure with those of women in magazines or on television and find herself wanting. She simply liked herself as she was. The freckles across her chest were not spoiling porcelain skin. Those freckles were components of her beauty. How refreshing the feeling this attitude evoked! The peace that emanates from someone comfortable with herself is inviting, a beckoning to cease the clamorous comparisons we make internally all day long.

Comparing ourselves with others is a deeply human habit. We see people and seamlessly consider how they are both similar to and different from us. It is an important way to comprehend our world and make choices about our behavior. We learn by comparing ourselves with others even as they learn by comparing themselves with us. Indeed, comparisons are necessary to keep the “civil” in civilization and lend cohesion to society. Such comparisons are both natural and healthy. Except, of course, when they aren’t.

Comparisons become unhealthy when we use them to determine our self-worth. To do this is to cede our self-determination to others. We err by relying on the appearances of things and thinking there is a “right” path through life.

Appearances can be deceiving. Aristotle decided that the sun circled the earth based on the appearance of things. Oops. Well, in defense of the esteemed philosopher, it still looks that way today. But we know it’s just not so. Appearance doesn’t always reveal truth. That our neighbors the Smiths appear to be the “perfect” family doesn’t tell us if, in fact, they are. From a distance, they look so – well – perfect that we fool ourselves into thinking they must be. Of course, deep down, we know the Smith’s are every bit as imperfect as we are, but it is easier to take the appearance for the truth than to remind ourselves it might be otherwise. It’s also easy to contrast the messy details of our family to that simple, ideal image of the Smiths and find fault with our family. We can only know if the Smiths are “perfect” once we come to know them well. Comparisons formed on appearances and used to make one feel good or bad are simply false. But they are powerful – it took centuries for the world to figure out that the earth had been swinging around the sun all that time.

We also err whenever we say “the right way” to ourselves, particularly if it refers to the perceived exalted status of someone else. Success and happiness cannot be objectively measured. Consequently, no one “right” way exists to either define or attain these states. To be sure, our society commonly associates wealth with success and happiness. And clearly some people have more money than others. Yet, studies show that wealth doesn’t directly correlate with success or happiness. Acquisition of wealth is simply one endeavor of our society but is no more the “right” way to live a life than is work in a preschool. Success and happiness are individually determined. The means by which an individual becomes successful or happy is unique to that individual. To function properly, society needs business people generating wealth, but it also needs caregivers, educators, and every other sort of occupation people enjoy. When we compare ourselves to others, thinking, “I wish I were more like him”, we lose sight of our uniqueness and the path we’ve chosen for ourselves, a path, which is our unique “right” way. We wander away from this path and undermine our own traits and choices.

The truth is that you will never end the string of comparisons of yourself with others. Nor should you want to for your own safety among other things: if everyone is running from a fire while you are dashing toward it, you had better be sure you are a fireman. Also, society stays more or less in sync with us comparing ourselves with those comparing themselves with us. So, go with the flow and accept comparisons as natural, just don’t let such comparisons inform your feelings about yourself. Your uniqueness – and you are unique – demands only comparisons of you with yourself.

Comparisons of you with yourself serve to keep you on your own path. Such comparisons are important ways to track your progress toward your unique goals. It is good to stop and gaze back over the route you have traveled. For example, you can see how far you’ve come: the mortgage is mostly paid off. You can appreciate how much effort you put in: you chose to keep your perfectly comfortable Toyota instead of trading up. You had your doubts at the soccer games as other dads rolled in on shiny wheels under shiny hoods under shiny, luxe logos; these men seemed so much more successful than you. But despite the doubts, you now clearly see it was worth the effort to overcome the doubt: to have been in control and have accomplished a goal is very satisfying. Conversely, if you compare your personal progress and find less change than you had hoped, you can urge yourself to do more. Comparisons of progress toward the things you want from life are healthy and affirming. Engage in them.

What if you do draw comparisons to others to feel good or bad about yourself? It’s simple – stop it. Simple, yes, but never easy. Comparing yourself to others is ingrained because it started early, even before you were aware of it. Your Mom worried aloud that your sister started walking at an earlier age than you did – you sensed you were deficient. Your kindergarten teacher gave you more cartoon stickers than he gave any of your classmates – you sensed you were better than anyone else. Susan had her birthday party at Six Flags… he wore white socks with brown pants…she got into Harvard…he drove a BMW to college…and on and on over the years. You learned that these little comparisons to others made you feel something whether the feelings were good or not. Feeling something is easier than accomplishing something. We can feel a sense of accomplish without doing the work. This burns up time and energy better used to garden or play the piano. Comparisons to others to determine your feelings about yourself are the ones you want to avoid. These create a false sense of superiority or inferiority. To free up your mind and time, you have to channel this energy into better activities.

Getting Started

Before you go any further, remember Amy? Don’t compare yourself to her and assume you must be lacking her inner Zen quality. Amy just happened to have good habits in the self-appreciation department. Instead, aspire to be like Amy – that’s good – but don’t put yourself down in the process. Using comparisons as self-criticism is not a fault or a trait – it’s a habit you can and want to change to increase your happiness. Habits are malleable: you can shape and reshape them for a happier you.

Also, don’t expect your recognition of untrustworthy habits to be an epiphany, after which you will be “healed”. It takes time, continued vigilance, and a lot of lapses to remake habits. You have a long history of habits to change. Be forgiving to yourself. Enjoy the progress you make and know that you will continue to make more. So, here are some steps to work through:

Eavesdrop on Yourself (headphones, tape recorder, and disguised van optional)

The most important step in quelling self-criticism that results from comparing yourself to others is to recognize when you engage in it. Each time you envy someone, or feel shame for any of your body parts, or consider you do things all wrong, make a mental note. Write this thought down as soon as you get to a notepad or journal. Or better yet, keep a small journal tucked into a pocket or purse. Initially just notice critical thoughts and keep a record of them. You’ll probably be surprised at the number of times you are hard on yourself. Be content to observe your inner landscape of thoughts and feelings for several days.

The Forest and the Trees

If you are like most of us, over these days of observation you will notice some recurring thoughts. Perhaps something that goes like this: “her kids are so much better behaved than mine” or this: “they have so much more than I do”, or even this: “I just can’t do yoga; I look like a fool.” If the thoughts are negative and they recur, you’ve started discovering how you use comparisons to determine how you feel about yourself. Select the most common recurring criticism to focus on. As time goes on, you’ll most likely root out more negative comparisons, but for now zoom in on this one to take your work to the next step.

Loudly & Proudly

Speak this predominant criticism out loud. Give actual voice to your critical thought. Don’t blurt it out at the mall or in the locker room. Find a safe place where you are alone to call this inner thought out. Listen to the words as they take shape. Repeat it. Louder. It gets easier. Again. Now consider, would you ever say that to anyone else? Probably not. Why, then, do you say it to yourself? You love thy neighbor more than thyself? That’s not how the golden rule puts it.

Huff, Puff and Blow…the house down…

And then reframe it. Start from the ground and rebuild it. By the way, this is the hard part. You’ll be unable to do this sometimes, but other times you’ll excel. Over time, the successes will outnumber the lapses. So, when the Smiths appear to be a perfect family, compliment them on their success. It is not necessary to physically go share this with them. Just note to yourself how well they’ve done – and leave it there. Stop before you start thinking your family isn’t as perfect. If Marcia rips up the street in her new BMW Z4, think how much fun she is having – and leave it there. Stop before you chastise yourself for not making more money. If you encounter a beggar on the street, consider how difficult it must be to ask strangers for help – and leave it there. Stop before you think how better you are with your cozy house and fine clothes. These are just the differences between you and others and nothing more. So empathize: wave and smile at Marcia and the Smiths; acknowledge the human in the beggar with eye contact, nod and, if you are inclined, share some cash. Project your thoughts outward toward others rather than brooding in your inner world. Be positive about people – and yourself. Each time you do this, you can add another accomplishment to your progress. Nothing adds to a feeling of success than accomplishment. And if you see attributes in others you like, aspire to these and enfold them into your own goals.

In a Nutshell

  1. Listen to your comparisons and criticisms
  2. Write them down as they occur
  3. Speak the criticisms out loud to hear how they truly sound
  4. Reframe your responses to affirming the successes of others and/or aspiring to those qualities yourself.
  5. Rinse and repeat until clean. It takes many repetitions to effect change. Internal scripts usually don’t appear alone – they travel in packs. With each habit you alter, others come easier.

Blaze Your Trail

Over the course of 80+ years you complete an unique journey. No one starts where you did, travels where you have, and stops where you will. The choices made and routes taken are precisely the ones that have brought you to this exact spot at this time. You made them and you will make more to continue from here to your next destination. You have the power to determine where you’ll go and how fast and how far. You’ll make comparisons, but you’ll realize that the old hierarchical ideas of “better than/not as good as” simply resolve into valueless differences. You’ll find that you can be happy or sad for others in their success and troubles as they follow their own paths. You will be happy and sad in your own success and troubles as these relate to your unique path. You’ll have more energy for your journey.

Do the Walk, Not Just the Talk – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

You might take comfort in knowing that there are therapists trained to assist people with just these issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evolving and exciting field of personal therapy. CBT is less about talking and more about taking steps to learn healthier habits. The name says it clearly: thought and behavior. CBT therapists listen for scripts you have running inside and help you reframe them and change old habits. Following these same steps, they use your conscious thought to affect behavior. They will help you track your moods to determine your mood triggers, so you can preempt any known tendencies. CBT therapists will coach you through tough times as they affirm the changes you desire. CBT therapists are very actively engaged in helping you change habits. CBT aims for you to be mindful about bad internal scripts and active in remaking your habits. CBT might not be right for you, but know that it is there if you feel as if you’d like some help.

Old habits die hard. Notice your nightly routine for going to sleep. For mine, I read a few pages of a book every night. If I don’t have a book or can’t read for some reason, I am out of sorts until I can settle down into sleep. Perhaps you read too, or you might lie on your back for a few minutes then roll onto your side just before drifting off. For a few nights skip reading, or lie on your stomach first. You’ll probably miss the reading as much as I do and find it hard to settle down, or you’ll find it nearly impossible to stay on your stomach, constantly wanting to roll over on your back. We are creatures of habit. Nighttime habits aren’t usually considered good or bad – they just are. Comparing yourself to others and using this to inflate or deflate feelings about yourself is not healthy. It is a reliance on untrue appearances and it presupposes that there is a common definition and path for getting the most out of life. Define happiness and success for yourself and plot your own path to meet them. Evaluate and compare your progress along this path. This is the healthy way to use comparisons to propel you along your unique path toward success and happiness. Happy trails.

Learn More

Some links for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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How to Discover Your Core Values

Core values are those things that mean the most to you and can be subjective things like compassion, love, honesty, wholesomeness, etc., and they also can encompass objective interests like education, hobbies, exercise, sports, etc.

How do you determine your personal core values?

Ponder these questions:

  • How do you love to spend your time?
  • What were your childhood tendencies toward?
  • What activities/subjects did you gravitate to in elementary school? in college?
  • What activities/subjects are you drawn to at this point in your life?
  • What could you see yourself working at without getting bored or burnt out?
  • What activity have you started early in the day and are still going full force with until the wee hours?
  • What subject, when you overhear someone mention it, causes your ears to perk up and your eyes to light up?
  • What gives you the most satisfaction after you’ve finished it … a well written article or a beautifully decorated cake, for example?
  • Have you often thought outside the box?
  • Have you refrained from joining certain groups?
  • Have you clamored to join others?
  • Are you ever torn between two favorite things to do … or does one always take priority?

Make a list, inspired by your pondering the above questions.

  • Write down everything in which you are interested.
  • Write down everything that attracts you.
  • Write down everything that you lose track of time while you’re doing.
  • Write down everything that you forget to eat while you’re doing.

If you could spend tomorrow doing anything you’d like to do, what would you do, where would you go, who would you be with (if anyone), and how long would you do it?

For years, It has been a ritual of mine to make the same resolution every New Year: to make the upcoming year twice as good and successful as the outgoing one. It rarely happened.

This year I was sick and tired of the lack of progress. So on January 1, I resolved, very quickly, decisively, and firmly, that I would leave my present position and place of residence on or before June 1. Furthermore, I would leave my position to pursue my number one love: writing.

Result? As I write this, it is May 18, and I am now writing like crazy and scheduled to move to a new location on or about June 1! I just wouldn’t let myself take “no” for an answer or procrastinate one little bit.

At age 69, I’ve done that enough!

Having an “aha” moment at my age is enough to make a person rue all the years of doing comparatively nothing to grow into the person I was born to be.

So, I am writing this to inform all of you younger ones to stop in the middle of our chaotic lives and THINK! Actually think about what is really important to you … before you wake up one day at age 69 and have a long overdue epiphany as I did.

Ask yourself what you hold dear over and above everything else in your life.

You just have to dig deep inside and remember who you truly are and what you are really all about, not what you may have grown into or what other people may have “helped” you become.

You have to discover your own reality. If you knew you were going to die today, what would you regret not having done? You know, it really is what you have not done that you will regret at my age, rather than the mistakes that you may have made along the way.

Realize that everyone is a creator. We just have to ferret out exactly what it is that we prefer to create.

Of course, we have all heard that you should “do what you love, and the money will come,” so if your security seems to be holding you back from “going off” in another direction that doesn’t seem as lucrative as your present occupation, seriously consider following your dream.

And don’t ever look back at what you imagine “might have been.” If you follow your true dreams, you won’t have to!

If you find yourself dreaming but cannot manage to “go off” to pursue a “pipe dream,” because you have a family to support, do not despair.

Search Techniques

There are several techniques that might help when you actually set aside a block of time to start determining exactly what your core values are. You can try them in turn or just pick one … it doesn’t matter, as long as you take action.

  • If you have a walk-in closet or pantry or storage space, light it with scented candles in glass jars (for safety), and take a notepad and pen in with you. The light from the candles will be enough for you to make notes, and the distraction-free atmosphere will help you concentrate.
  • If you have access to a gazebo or other outdoor refuge away from barking dogs, screaming kids, and other interruptions, great … that will work as well.
  • Public parks where there are nature trails to walk (sometimes with convenient benches) also are good spots, if you pick a time when it’s not crowded.
  • Secluded areas along rivers, lakes and ponds can be ideal, as the sound of water seems to bring out the best in people.

These are just some ideas if you need them, but anyplace in your home where you will not be disturbed will work, because you will feel secure there.

Realize that identifying your core values comes down to simply identifying your purpose in life, nothing more, because if you know your life purpose, your core values will fall in place naturally. Some people know where they wish to go from childhood. Others, like yours truly, wait until they are my age to get serious.

When first evaluating and identifying their core values, some people will feel a little indecisive about pinning them down, and that’s quite all right. In fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being drawn to more than one, or even several, different attractions at the same time. Doing so merely reflects your complexity as a human, especially in the times in which we live with all the different distractions at hand.

(Personally, I experience this every time I get online, and I know that I am not alone in this. I get online for a specific reason, and an hour later I realize that my original purpose has taken a back seat to several other things.)

You can enjoy different things, simultaneously, or just go with the flow. There are no rules where creativity is concerned. The important thing is to create something and to do it on a regular basis … whatever moves you into habitual expression of your core values.

An important point to keep in mind is that, once you decide on your core values, they are not set in stone, and you are free to change them at any point. Just don’t change them to conform to other people’s ideas or to your own idea of what they SHOULD be. If you feel led along those lines, ask yourself WHY you think they SHOULD be. Remember, you are looking for your true self. Your core values distilled will reveal what you are all about.

Don’t fail to write down something outlandish. Just keep going, and something will click eventually. After all, no one will (or should) see these notes. If you think it, write it! And whatever you do, don’t put anything down just because you think you “should.” That’s utter nonsense!

An exercise in English composition class was called “stream of consciousness,” and that’s what we’re after here. Just write down every thought that comes to mind, even if it makes no sense or seems silly. Let everything be natural and random.

Some things may appear again and again. Catch a clue! If, at any time, you feel you have more interests than you think practical, you will probably want to eliminate some, but how? Take them two-by-two. Look at each and decide which one you would stick with if you had to choose for the rest of your life. Stick with the winner, and then repeat that with the rest of your ideas. One will always come out on top.

If you need direction, a good little exercise is to visit any or all of three Web sites (and there are many more, I am sure): craigslist.com, ebay.com, and amazon.com) and look through their lists. As you do, jot down those that catch your eye. Also, watch your emails, especially if you get a lot of spam. Subject lines are a rich source of information as to what appeals to you.

If you haven’t already, you may wish to add some of these to your list: adventure, creativity, education, mentoring, spirituality, family, growth, health, God, financial security, independence, wisdom, knowledge, power, security, success, integrity, understanding, truth.

The trick is to balance your life between doing the mind things you feel you should do and pursuing the heart things you really wish to do.

What you DO has to fit who you ARE. Put another way, your mindset has to match the things that you hold dear in your heart. You cannot, for example, take a job which requires you to compromise the core values deep within yourself. If you do that, you will not be happy or content very long, and both you and the job will suffer accordingly.

If you allow yourself to slip into thinking along the lines of what society makes you feel you SHOULD do, instead of sticking with the leanings of your heart, you will never find peace. Sometimes it takes both guts and grit to make the right choice, especially if what you are looking at is very much more lucrative, compared to the seemingly inferior choice that you feel (know) is right.

Someone recently shared his personal core values with me (which, by the way, is fine to do but only after they are firmly entrenched in your own mind and heart), and these just happen to be mine as well. In order of importance, they are family, health, financial freedom, learning, and writing.

Another aspect of all this soul searching is to ensure that you do not allow other people to influence these all too important decisions about your life. You can have mentors, yes, but all too often family members can be the most detrimental and hold you back from full fruition. So be wary and guard against that. It is best to confer, if need be, with someone who is unrelated to you.

How Do You Apply Your Core Values to Daily Life?

From my vantage point, there are some ways to get started with your dream that will allow you to “transition” into it, rather than to “chuck it all” and start from scratch.

First, realize that the online world holds multifarious opportunities that previously were nonexistent, and information that you may need is always at hand, literally. That said, implement the following:

  • Allocate definite time slots to pursuing your dream on a daily basis, even if you are forced to work a job that is not your ideal.
  • Make an irrevocable decision to do something every day to move toward your dreams and goals, for these longings are the core values that add value and meaning to your life.
  • Establish perspective by realizing that these definite time slots of yours will reduce the stress in your life and make you more productive and valuable in other areas, including increasing your happiness and the quality of your family time.

And do know that, unless you are actively pursuing your dreams, you are adding stress to your life, albeit subconsciously.

If it feels good (and it’s not illegal, immoral or fattening—and if it hurts no one else), do it! If it gets you excited, go for it! If you’re passionate about it, live it!

Be true to your self! If you won’t, who will? Be honest with yourself, and thus eliminate dissatisfaction and unrest.

In addition to drilling down to what really motivates and turns you on, you also need to deprive yourself of people and circumstances that offend you deeply and raise your shackles. What gets you really stirred, really angry? Usually it will be something deeply important and meaningful to you that you respect and honor, and when other people reflect the opposite, that rankles you to the nth degree.

So you can learn a lot from what turns you off, just as you can from what turns you on!

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever read concerning implementing your life’s purpose and core values is to combine them into one activity, such as authoring a book or a blog perhaps. This would bring you the highest satisfaction and ignite your passion in a big way.

There is just something about combining two or more of your core values into one concentrated activity that takes you into the realm of eagles. You will soar as never before!

Remember, when you realize that your heart is singing (and maybe even your mouth!), you are most probably in the throes of really living your life and experiencing your passion.

You will wake up one day soon after you implement the foregoing with a song in your heart, joy in your being, and a spring in your step, because you will find that you are coming to realize that your inner core values are being expressed and really lived.

The Benefits of Being True to Your Core Values

The ultimate benefits of discovering your core values and what really makes you tick are that you will experience better health, less stress, longer life, and a more meaningful, fulfilled life, full of adventure and escapades that previously eluded you. Food will taste better, flowers will smell better, music will sound sweeter, your sense of touch will be heightened, and the beauty all around you will come to the forefront as you relish your newly found sensitivities.

Chances are, if you think about them in depth, past experiences where you found the most pleasure emanated directly from enjoying your core values that you never thought about before.

Finding a new purpose for yourself can energize, inspire and encourage you like no one or nothing else can. What do you like to think about just before you go to sleep? What do you like to daydream about? And do daydream. It is not a waste of time, no matter what others may say. Remember: you do have a goal and a purpose for doing so.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t be a willy-nilly drifter with no goals. People like that are what we call the “masses,” the “herd.” Avoid that at all cost. Get yourself one goal about which you are extremely passionate, and go for it!

Take a Break …

Let your thoughts, your words, your actions, and your life reflect your innate passion every day of your life. If you get bogged down and feel stymied, stop—but only to take a break. Go to bed, or better yet, go out into nature and get alone with God and ask for wisdom and insight. You may be surprised at what this will do for you. And take along a notepad, because you never know what will spring up. Go slowly, however, because this sort of thing can also get you off track. Keep your core values in mind, and if what you come up with doesn’t line up, chalk it off and go on to something else. It will come.

… But not a Vacation!

Personally, I have written since I was a child, and I have many notes and files crammed full of different observations, little stories, vignettes, inspirational notes, etc., and nearly always I can find something in my “arsenal” that reveals another aspect of my core values.

At various times, life may steer you away from what you know as your values so that you violate those values for a time, until the day comes that (hopefully) you have a personal reckoning where you realize why you are unhappy, unfulfilled and discontented. That is when you conclude that your departure from your basic core values is the cause.

When you try to “fit in” to a particular scenario, whether it’s a lifestyle, a career position, a religious organization, or whatever, and you feel uncomfortable, then that is just “not you.” Get out as soon as you can and follow your heart. Don’t ever live to fulfill the values of others while neglecting your own. Don’t be too quick to be “self sacrificing,” or you soon may find that your entire life is being sacrificed on the altar of others’ dreams, wishes … and values.

Conclusion

Develop some drive, enthusiasm, and ambition. When you find your passion, these attributes will follow most naturally. You cannot omit this most important area of development and growth.

And whatever you do, do not try to live up to the expectations of others. You most probably have only this one life to live, and you owe it to yourself to live it the way you see fit and not according to the whims and wishes of others.

When you have direction in your life and know where you are headed, you have something to really live for, and you will be enthusiastic and eager to get where you’re going. Your whole life will be meaningful and rich beyond measure.

Get the thought clear in your mind. Get it entrenched deeply within your heart. Speak to yourself and to God about it. It’s may not be wise to speak to other people about your purpose at this point. But express gratitude for the new discoveries you are making and for your new direction, and then institute regular, habitual action toward your goal.

It is much easier to direct your life with firm goals and maybe even writing a declaration or statement of exactly what your main focus is and keeping it where you will see it every day.

For instance, if your aim is to improve your health regimen, such as adding certain items to your daily meals or snacks, make a list of what you’re going to remember to take in at each meal (such as supplements, lemon juice, liquid minerals, etc.), and post your list on your cabinet door or refrigerator until your new habits are automatic.

Thinking in depth about what you value should reveal to you how you came to hold these values, i.e., where or from whom did they come … parents, teachers, preachers, friends, et al. Know that, during adolescence, when our world starts to expand dramatically, we’re going to be exposed to values that will differ—and probably conflict with—those we’ve been taught to hold.

Experiences you have throughout life will either confirm or eventually discard some of these values. Ideally, it’s like a refining process where the dross is ditched and the pure stuff is saved and cherished.

Lastly, do not feel guilty about anything you choose as being important to you and that you ultimately identify to be one of your core values. For example, many people will list money as one of the things that is most important to them. And then they start feeling as if they’re overly materialistic, and they sometimes even take it off their lists.

The thing to do then is to really think about why money is that important to you. Ask yourself if money is important because of all the things you could indulge in that you cannot right now. Ask yourself if money is important because it will empower you over other people. Ask yourself if money is important as a means to accomplish a not-so-honorable goal.

Conversely, ask yourself if money is important to you to enable you to provide well for your family. Ask yourself if money is important to you to allow you to help other people in the way of charitable contributions. Ask yourself if money is important to you for the freedom of time it provides to pursue your heart’s desire.

You get the picture. It is not the importance of money in and of itself, for money is only an enabler, a tool. It’s what you do when you are enabled that makes the difference and that gives honorable credence to your adding it to your list of core values.

After the weeding out process, it all distills to “following your heart.”

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How to Become a Better Salesman

Being a salesman is one of the hardest and most challenging jobs out there today, full of high-expectations and very little in the way of guidance. There are so many ways to fail at sales, and not nearly as many ways to close the deal, so it’s no wonder this profession has one of the highest turnaround rates today. Many people have capitalized on the uncertainty of this role, and the market is now thoroughly saturated with self-help books, seminars, webinars, counseling, and role playing scenarios. With all this information out there, it’s difficult for the average salesman to know what to believe.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 14 million people work in the sales profession in some form or another. Sales is a very general category, including direct salesmen, marketing representatives, product spokespeople, and even retail clerks. In fact, most people, whether their jobs are directly classified as “sales” positions or not, do some form of sales in their jobs. Making presentations to coworkers or supervisors? Consider it selling your idea. Interacting with clients or customers in order to obtain business? This, too, is sales. For this reason, it’s important for anyone with a professional position of any kind to be knowledgeable and continually learning about how to improve their sales tactics. In any case, being a better salesperson, in life or at work, will improve your percentage of desired outcomes.

Certainly one of the most important factors in being a good salesman is personality – if you’re not likeable as a person, who’s going to buy anything from you? While it’s true that a shining disposition is helpful in this profession even more than others, there are many variables a person can actually alter to make themselves a better, more effective salesperson. Like with any other problem, the first step that must be taken in this journey of discovery is a thorough evaluation. What strengths do you posses as a professional? What are some of the weaknesses you may need to work on? Once you have thoroughly identified your best – and worst- qualities, you may then start to devise a plan to take action. Over time, effective implementation of known successful sales strategies are bound to pay off, both monetarily and in building your equity as an employee.

Your Personal SWOT Analysis

The first step in the process of identifying your strengths as an employee or salesperson lies in the answer to a few simple questions. These questions include:

  • What are your organizational strengths?
  • What do you like to do best at your current job?
  • What did you show a natural aptitude for in school?
  • What have you been complimented on or asked to teach others?
  • What are the traits of people you work with that you also feel you possess?

Sit down with a pen and paper, and answer the previous questions in as much detail as possible. Consider it a brain dump: don’t hesitate to write anything down as you can always go back later and edit. What kinds of things did you find that were repeated throughout your answers? If you found that you frequently referenced organization, filing, or math, you are likely to have an aptitude for highly structured tasks. On the contrary, if you answered many of the questions with more human-based responses, that is, that you like to train new hires or work best in groups, then you might do better at more interactive tasks. While there is no set formula for evaluating these responses, seeing what you’re good at written down on a piece of paper can be a good way to build confidence in your strengths. It’s also important to know in which areas you shine, as you can draw on these strengths, no matter what they are, when you sell. The idea is to make your strengths work for you, which you cannot do until you identify what they are.

Now that you’ve figured out what talents come naturally to you, it’s time to discover which elements of your professional personality may need a little work. Everyone has areas in which they need practice or guidance, and the only way to learn to be better at something is to acknowledge a deficit. In sales, particularly, knowing your weaknesses can help you avoid common pitfalls that may tap into them while you sell. Continue the exercise above, but conversely with the following questions:

  • What are your organizational weaknesses?
  • What do you like to do least at your current job?
  • What did you struggle with in school?
  • What have you needed extra help from others at your current job on?
  • What are the traits of other people you work with that you find less than desirable?

Answering these opposite questions will give you a good idea of what you need to improve on. Some weaknesses, like an inability to comprehend math or use proper grammar, are more difficult to learn than others, so it may be wise to learn strategies to avoid times when you’ll need to call on these skills. By highlighting your strengths while playing down your weaknesses, you’re sure to be on your way to becoming a better salesman.

You’ve identified your strengths and you’ve quarantined your weaknesses. Now what do you do? Let’s begin to talk more specifically about sales. The most important question you need to ask yourself is: Would you buy from yourself? Be honest about this one…if you would, you’re off to a great start. If you wouldn’t, take some time to go back to the drawing board and find out which of your weaknesses are causing you to give a “no” answer. Surely, if you wouldn’t buy from yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to, either.

There are a few cardinal rules of sales that everyone should follow whether they’re a high performing agent or new to the game. These rules, if enacted correctly, are nearly guaranteed to lead to more success in the sales profession, and likely increased confidence and happiness in all areas of life. Many of the qualities that make someone a good salesperson are the same qualities that draw humans to each other. Learning to be more effective at sales may make you more personable and help you in other areas and relationships of your life. Below, we are going to discuss in detail the 13 rules of sales. These simple but challenging steps are easy to grasp, but somewhat difficult to actually employ. Some take more perseverance than others, but following these steps will set you well on your way to a successful career in sales.

Let’s get started.

Keys to Success in Sales

Believe in your product

Have you ever been into a store and been completely turned off by the attitude of the people working there? If so, you’ve experienced what it’s like to try and interact with a salesperson who doesn’t believe in their product. It’s naïve to expect anyone else to be interested in purchasing what you’re selling if you don’t seem to be all that interested in it yourself, so whatever you’ve got, be it shoes, flooring, or travel planning services, do all that you can to get excited about it.

People are good at assessing how real your enthusiasm for your product truly is, so don’t try to feign interest to get results. If your product is such that you cannot find a way to get behind it, perhaps you are not the best salesperson for this particular job. The more sincere you are about what you’ve got to offer, the more people will get excited too, and this translates directly to more sales.

Listen more than you talk

One of the cardinal rules of sales, this proves to be one of the hardest, even for the most seasoned salespeople. Sure, you’ve got a great product and tons of knowledge to impart about it, but what does your customer really want? A chance to talk about themselves. While it may seem counterintuitive, allowing your client to speak to you about what their needs and wants are will not only help you gain valuable sales knowledge, but allows you to silently build rapport that you can later cash in for sales.

Put into practice, if you spend 20 minutes extolling the virtues of a new central air conditioning system to your client over the phone, only to find out that they live in an area that never gets above 60 degrees, you’ve wasted your time and theirs. On the same token, you’ve established with that client that you’re more interested in selling them what you’ve got than finding out what they need, which is never a good foot to start off on. Taking the time to listen to what they have to say as well as asking questions that get them talking gives you the opportunity to reposition your goods in a way that will appeal to them and their needs. In the same way that one size never fits all, one sales pitch is never right for everyone.

Put yourself out there


This rule is always the biggest problem for those who are new to sales, or those who are unfamiliar with their product. It’s natural to be nervous about selling – we’ve all had terrible experiences with salespeople at some point – but don’t let this color your view of what everyone thinks about salespeople. It’s true that “you’ll lose 100% of the games you don’t play,” so take a breath and go for it. One of the most helpful lessons to remember is that the worst thing that can happen to you in sales is that you’ll get told no, and even this is not insurmountable. Sales is, at its core, a numbers game, so the more people you present to, whether in context or not, the more sales you’re going to complete. And as with every new skill, practice makes perfect.

Stay positive

This rule goes hand in hand with putting yourself out there. There’s nothing less appealing than someone with a sour disposition, so if you’re having trouble closing sales, make a concerted effort to maintain a positive attitude. Negativity, even if it’s only in your head, is easily perceived by clients, and is an instant turn off. Try and remember that there’s nothing to gain from getting down, and that the sooner you get positive, the sooner you can express excitement for your product. As discussed, this excitement will ultimately lead to sales, rest assured.

Practice your persuasion

Salespeople are persuasive…no one questions that, but how did they get that way? The answer is practice. While some people are born with a natural charm and likeability, others need to learn these skills through interaction with other people. Practicing your persuasive ability, even in your personal life, will help you learn what humans respond to and what they don’t. Some of these things will be specific to your personality, so knowing what to do and what to avoid can only be ascertained through constant interaction and analysis.

Know your product


There’s nothing less convincing than someone who asks for money for something they know little about. How confident would you be having surgery performed by a doctor that only misspoke or made false claims 10% of the time? One tiny mistake when it comes to answering questions or talking about your product can undo all the expertise points you’ve already earned. If your product is something people can buy elsewhere, such as in a store or online, then part of what they’re paying for is your knowledge. Make sure you give these people what they ask for and encourage them to trust your claims by backing everything you say with facts.

Be honest

In the same way people can tell if you know what you’re talking about, they can tell if you’re fudging the facts. People are smart, count on that. Being honest from the get-go and even confirming, then rebutting, the negative aspects of your product, you will gain trust from your clients. This trust is necessary and useful not only for closing the sale, but for laying the groundwork for future sales and referrals. A reputation as someone who doesn’t tell the truth is hard to shake.

Appeal to people’s emotions


People want to hear how your product can make their life better, period. While numbers and data are important in setting your item apart from others, the real selling point of any object or service is the impact it will have in the user’s daily life. Appeal to people’s natural sense of fear, doubt, or optimism, and position your product in a way that it become irresistible. Emotion is ultimately a stronger motivator than logic, so play to that when you’re selling.

Be confident

Would you want to purchase something from someone who was bumbling, constantly said “um”, and seemed to be scared of you? Of course not, so don’t project this image to your clients. Showing confidence, even if it’s manufactured, helps instill that same confidence in your customers, which in the end will lead to sales. Confidence is truly one of the surest ways to convince people they have to have what you’ve got.

Dress for success

Consider every call you go on like a job interview, and dress appropriately. You’re asking your customers to give you a job, in a sense, the job of their salesman, so act the part. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should wear a suit, but be sure to dress as nice or nicer than your customers will be. Conversely, if you’re going to a manufacturing plant where everyone you’re selling to will be wearing overalls or sweats, don’t wear a three-piece ensemble. Dress professionally but appropriately and you’ll notice you get more respect.

Build long term relationships

Even if you don’t sell a particular customer today, never count them out as a potential customer for the future. You never know when their needs or what you’re offering may change. On that same token, people you attempt to sell to can and will act as references for you, so maintain these relationships as a form of constantly evolving personal marketing. You are a commodity just like your product, so keep yourself fresh in the minds of those you meet.

Follow up and follow through

Be sure to follow up with anyone and everyone you may meet. There’s nothing to be lost from getting turned down a second or even third time, and once in a while, you’ll hit someone who wants to reevaluate their decision. By following up, you’ll ensure your clients and potential clients remember your professionalism and dedication. Following through on promises or additional responsibilities made before or after a sale are equally important as they indicate your level of professionalism.

Never give up

Persistence is the cornerstone of sales. It’s so easy and tempting to stop after hearing “no”, but what makes good salespeople good is their inability to accept this answer. This doesn’t mean you should ever be pushy or overbearing, but continuing to press on with old and new leads is the only way to build your clientele and make those elusive but profitable sales that come from long-term relationships. The worst thing that can happen is that you can be turned down, so don’t stop trying to get where you’re going. True salesmen believe in themselves enough to know that the harder they try, the more they are guaranteed to succeed.

Sales is a tricky profession, but one that is naturally rich in opportunities for growth and monetary gain. Like many of the best things in life, you get out of sales what you put in, so follow the simple steps above to ensure you’re doing all that you can to perform as a salesperson. In the end, you’ll only lament the things you did not try, rather than regret how far out there you put yourself. Becoming a better salesman means learning more about not only your chosen profession, but about yourself. It’s a difficult and long process, but the end results will be well worth the effort.

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How to Become a Positive Role Model

Good Role Models Help Others Help Themselves

Everyone is somebody’s role model. Each day someone looks at your life and evaluates the decisions and judgments you make. The type of decisions you make and how you choose to live your life will determine if you are a positive or negative role model. Following a few simple rules will ensure you impact those who look to you in a positive way.

Always Do What You Say

A person who always follows through with what they say is a good role model to others. Do not make promises, either verbally or implied, that you do not intend to keep. The wisest person I have ever known once told me to say what I mean and mean what I say. When you say that you are going to do something people expect you to follow through. Even when completing the task will be difficult on you, always do what you say.

Finish What You Start

Another aspect of always doing what you say is finishing what you start and finishing it on time. If you make a commitment to do something be sure you complete it. If you or your child commits to play on a sports team make sure to attend every practice and game. At work complete every task on time and to the best of your ability. Be the type of person that someone will call upon if they need something important done.

Be Trustworthy

Trustworthiness is an important characteristic of a good role model. Being trustworthy means a lot of things. It means that someone can count on you to do what you say. It means that when someone shares something with you in confidence you will not tell it to others. Trustworthiness is earned overtime by doing what you say and not betraying people.

Be Truthful

Being honest and truthful helps build trust, but it is more than doing what you say. Being honest means that you always tell the truth, even when it hurts. People often find excuses to lie, but lying only hurts the person who lies and the person who is lied to. When you are always truthful people will listen to and believe what you say. When they are in a tough situation they understand that they can come to you for good, honest advice. Being truthful in everything you do is a great way to be a good role model.

Make Good Choices

A good role model makes posititive choices that others can follow. Good choices that a person can make include simple things like eating healthy and exercising. Good choices can also include not taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Teenagers and young adults can be a good role model by not skipping school and making good grades. With every choice you make, remember that someone is watching you.

Show Others How to Make Good Choices

Let others see how you make a good choice. Let them see you seek advice from someone you trust and weigh all of your options. Let them see you consider the consequences of your decisions. Teaching someone how to make wise choices is as important as letting them see you make a good choice.

Lead By Example

Most people can tell others what to do, but very few people can simply live a life that positively leads others. This is a good example of how you must live your life in the way you tell others to live theirs. You cannot tell other people not to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol if you do these activities. You cannot use foul language and be disrespectful to others and then expect people to respect you. The way you act and the decisions you make in your life will be more meaningful than any word that ever comes from your mouth. Remember that people are watching you and looking at the way you live your day to day life.

Admit When You Are Wrong

Everyone makes mistakes. You will not always make the right decisions or do the right think, but when you make a mistake you have to take responsibility for it. Taking responsibility for a mistake means that you do what ever you can to make it right. You should apologize to any person who you offended when you made a mistake. By admitting your mistakes and working to correct them you teach others that it is not the end of the world if they mess up.

Think Positive

People look up to others who have the ability to think positively. Don’t always look for the bad in a situation, but look at what’s good in it and how you can improve it. Don’t gripe and complain about the way your life is going. Think of others who are in worse shape than you and then count the blessings you have in your life. If a person looks hard enough he can always find someone who is in greater need than himself and be thankful for the good things in his life. Bad situations do exist, but a person must identify what he can change and tackle the challenge with all he is worth.

Be Kind and Respectful

A good role model always treats others and himself with respect and kindness. You should never make a decision based solely on how it will benefit you. Consider other people’s feelings when making decisions. You do not have to agree with the way a person is living or even like the person, but to be a good role model you must be kind and respectful. Follow the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Learn Your Whole Life

When a person determines that they know everything, they become a stumbling block to those around them. Embrace learning as a lifetime activity. If you have the opportunity, go to college and earn a degree in something you love. But learning is so much more than formal education. Look for the areas in your life that need growth and pursue greater knowledge in those areas. If your eating habits are unhealthy, learn about nutrition. If you want to fix your own automobile, learn to be a mechanic. Learn a hobby or craft that can help you cope with day to day stress. An active mind is a healthy mind and by making learning a lifetime endeavor you can inspire others to walk the same path.

Take Care of the Environment

To be a good role model you must take care of the environment. There are multiple ways to take care of the environment. Recycling is easy and keeps trash out of over crowded land fills. Recycling also saves precious resources like trees. Keep the land around your home clean. Pick up trash on the side of the road. Never litter. Walking instead of driving a car saves gas and does not emit harmful exhaust into the air. When walking is not feasible, carpool with others. Another way to take care of the environment is to help keep waterways clean. Work with local organizations to pick up trash and debris from streams, creeks and lakes. Keeping the environment clean and healthy not only benefits you, but also benefits those who look up to you.

Volunteer

Volunteer to help those in your community. There are so many people in need of assistance, and you truly can make a difference in the lives of those you help. Become a mentor to a child or a young adult in need of guidance. Adopt an elderly person and visit them often to make sure they are being taken care of. Participate in community activities such as fundraisers and cancer awareness programs. Read to young children at the school or library. Volunteer for meals on wheels or in a homeless shelter. When you volunteer others realize that you care for more people than yourself. Their respect for you grows and they begin to look upon you as a role model.

Have a Strong Set of Beliefs

Good role models know what they believe and live their lives accordingly. Having a strong set of beliefs does not mean that you will never change how you believe, but it does mean that you will not change them every day. When you know what you believe and why you believe that way others can trust that you will make your decisions based on those believes. They will know who you are and respect you, even if they believe differently.

Have Character

JC Watts once said that character is doing the right thing, even when nobody’s watching. Do the right thing every day in every way. It does not matter if someone else will have knowledge of your actions or decisions: do the right thing. Determine ahead of time what you believe and the path you will take and you will not have to make decision when you are faced with a trying situation.

Being a good role model is more than doing good every once in a while, it is living your live in a way that others can follow and have positive results. To be a good role model you must consistently make good choices. A good role model is not perfect, but he admits his mistakes and takes responsibility for fixing them. Being a good role model is not easy, but it is well worth the effort. As you strive to live a life others can copy, you will grow as a person and develop pride in who you are. Simply remember that other people are watching you and how you live your life can determine how they will live theirs. In everything you do, strive to be a good role model.

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How To Win Admiration From Strangers

Winning admiration from strangers can be difficult task to undertake. First and foremost, a calm demeanor is welcome among strangers. People whom you pass on the street must see a calm and welcoming individual. Most strangers are well informed to “Not judge a book by it’s cover,” but without an intriguing cover no one will even give the book a second glance. The folks at the market or bookstore or on the street everyday pass judgment in just a few precious moments. Conveying the type of person you are without speaking in just those moments can be difficult to accomplish, but with a little work and some polish, this goal can become a realization. Many times the nonverbal communication speaks louder than any sentence you may say, because you truly only get one chance to make a positive first impression.

Of course, there are different types of strangers. The people you pass on the street, the people on the bus or train with you, and the members of the opposite sex in the bar or club are just a few of the possible categories of strangers. In any case, winning the admiration of any of these groups of people has particular techniques. While no one will fault anyone for trying to make new friends or meet new people, everyone has their own personality. While it is inadvisable to hide who you are, man of us are guilty of falling into a series of bad habits. These bad habits are not crimes, but they develop over time from gathering with the same group of people. After a period of time, every member of a given group starts to behave the same, with the actual group becoming the personal identity of the members. Many strangers can find the group mentality intimidating. Therefore making a few tweaks to the daily routine can result in altering a stranger’s perception of you. Remember, bad habits do not form in one day, so it may require a little work to conquer these habits. Here are a few ideas:

A Neat & Orderly Appearance

Dressing well and being well groomed go hand in hand with social acceptance. Before you ever speak your clothes and appearance speak for you. Be careful not to be too well dressed or well groomed, or you may stray into the realm of looking obsessive. Your attire can be neat and clean without appearing spoiled. This concept means putting some thought into your clothes and grooming by seeing yourself as others might. What may look nice to you, might appear too revealing or too stiff to a complete stranger. As a general rule conservatism goes a long way, but is always finely balanced with a touch of individuality. Avoiding designer labels and jewelry helps ensure your appearance remains grounded. The last thing you want your clothes & accessories to say about you is “I’m expensive and high maintenance.”

Empathy Shows You Are Aware Other People Have Feelings

Showing empathy in your actions while out shopping or even just walking is a great way to win admiration from strangers. Being aware that you are not the only person on the face of the Earth means yielding to strangers, offering your umbrella to a older person when it is raining, or pausing to pet a friendly dog. Allowing others to see that you are friendly and are willing to take others feelings into account will pay many dividends down the road. On the verbal front, when someone asks you a question be sure to break eye contact for a few seconds. In the few seconds you spend looking away, never look up as this will convey apathy to the question. Instead look to the side and take a brief pause before answering, this technique will show that you are thinking about the question and want to put some effort into the response. Obviously, do not take too long of a pause or it will seem like you are perplexed or confused. Also, remember this technique only works on open ended questions and not simple inquiries like “How are you?”.

Compassion & Courtesy Proves You Care About Others

Conveying a sense of compassion without seeming belittling is a difficult personality trait to master. Holding open doors for children shows a little compassion, but politely adding “In you go” or “Careful there,” will be the icing on the cake. In particular tossing the local animals a crust of bread from your sandwich will demonstrate that you are a person who appreciates other life forms and treats them with respect. Showing courtesy by thanking people, and remembering that “Umhm,” does not translate into a “Your welcome,” will not only prove that you have above average verbal skills, but that you have confidence in your actions. Taking the time to make that first impression as someone who has a soft side is important. Showing respect for others and taking the time to help them out can be extremely rewarding ice breakers to get that all important conversation started.

Confidence Lets Makes People Aware That You Know Who You Are

Walking and talking with confidence is a great way to intrigue strangers. Walking with your head up, sitting up straight, and waiting for the bus without leaning on the stop gets you viewed as someone who moves and thinks with purpose. Leaning or slouching indicate that you are disinterested in what is going on around you, while avoiding those poses will make you seem alert and pleasant. Never hesitate to show off your smile, even people you just met will appreciate a warm grin. Body language says a lot about a persons confidence level. If others view you as possessing a lack of confidence they are more likely to attempt to take advantage of you; whereas, if you seem alert and aware of your surroundings folks are more likely to ask directions, buy you a drink, or ask for a dance. Confidence can be one of the most sexy personality traits you can have.

Neutrality Reflects An Open Mind

The last type of person anyone wants to meet is an opinionated person with their head in the clouds. Seeming open to new things is difficult to convey in a nonverbal mode, but can be accomplished by controlling your facial reactions to different things. On many occasions people will do things that will shock & surprise you, and to not seem judgmental with your facial expressions or body language takes a fair bit of preparation. Reading signs or looking at advertisements almost always causes some sort of facial reaction. Rolling of the eyes is one of the most uncontrollable reflexes that demonstrates a closed mind, practice controlling these tells. Remember, even when you think no one is watching, they probably are. So exercise self control whenever out in public.

It’s Not Necessarily What You Say, But How You Say It

Tone of voice is especially important when speaking to strangers. Talk to loudly and it will seem like you are yelling, and talk to softly and no one will be able to hear you. The pitch and tone of your voice is sometimes much more important than what is actually being said. A friendly and conversational tone lets strangers know that you are confident and an able communicator. Be sure your natural tone is not too loud or too soft by practicing with friends or even pets. This idea can be tough for some people to get a handle on, because if you sound too soft it will seem like you are baby talking.

While these items will help endear you into the hearts of many people, becoming a well rounded person is the best idea to enhance your appeal to strangers. Transforming who you are is a difficult process that comes with effort and desire. Just like anything else in life, you have to want it badly enough to make conscious choices that affect several different aspects of daily life. The best way to succeed in becoming a better person is to make small changes and adjustments over a period of time. Many folks do not give any passers by any notice, but acknowledging them by wishing them a pleasant day is a great place to start.

Winning the admiration of strangers is a form of social acceptance. In order for others to accept you, you must first accept yourself. All of the topics from tone of voice, staying neutral, having confidence, and presenting a great appearance are all enviable traits. When people see a little of themselves in you, it is just like having something in common. Finding a little bit of common ground is a way for people to notice and appreciate who you are. Granted some people are born with a natural ability to attract people, but all of these abilities can be gained by just about anyone who is willing to put in the time and work to become someone that makes people say to themselves, “Now, there is someone who has got it together.”

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How to Save Money

Create Your Plan

Saving money is difficult because it requires adjusting some lifelong habits, but it is definitely possible. Like any other goal in life, trying to save money requires determination and a plan. Whether you are saving money for a major purchase or for early retirement, having a plan in place will allow you to stay focused and take the necessary steps to achieve your financial goal.

Making a plan, means sitting down with a pen and a piece of paper and jotting down how much you intend to save and when your deadline will be. For example, your goal might be to save $15,000 for your down payment by the end of the year to buy a house. Once that is established, you will need to a bank account to deposit your savings and a system for tracking your income and expenses to determine whether your goal is realistic and how it can be achieved.

Savings and Checking Account

If you don’t have a savings and checking account yet, you would immediately go to the bank. This is the key in controlling where your money goes. Many people cash out their paycheck at cash checking stores, which is probably the worst thing you can do if you are trying to save. The store will charge you a fee to cash, unlike the bank, which does it for free. Also, cashing your check means that you will be depositing everything into your pocket—a sure way to spending it all.

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a bank for your savings and checking account. Find a bank that is in your local community. This will spare you of the ATM fees when you need to withdraw cash immediately. Another thing to consider is the minimum balance required. If you have minimum savings, you will need to choose an account with a low initial deposit and low required balance each month. Otherwise, you will be paying fees for overwithdrawing from your account. Also, consider the interest rates, which vary slightly from bank to bank. A higher interest rate means that you would earn more money each month. Also consider putting your cash into a CD if you won’t need your money within a year. CDs often earn a higher interest rate than a regular savings account.

Finally, sign up for direct deposit if possible at your work place. Not having direct access to your paycheck will prevent you from spending frivolously and require you to constantly monitor your balance. If you need cash, simply withdraw from the bank or your bank’s ATM machine. Your bank will also provide you with a debit card, which allows you access to funds in your checking account to pay for purchases. However, make sure you withdraw enough each time from your bank’s ATM only. This will prevent you from constantly running out of cash and withdrawing from other ATMs that charge you a convenience fee.

Tracking Your Cash Flow

The best way to keep track of your expenses is jot down all your cash flows for the month. For the computer literate, an electronic spreadsheet is the best way to record data. First determine all your sources of income. If you are employed full-time, you will probably have a fixed monthly income. Those who are working on a temporary or contract basis will see more fluctuations in positive cash flows. Also include extraneous sources of income, including gifts you have received or a sale made on e-Bay.

Then record your negative cash flows. This will be the most tedious part of the process. Create categories for different types of expenses: rent/mortgage, gas, electric, heating, clothing, food, entertainment, etc. If you pay most of your bills online using a credit card or bank account, then all you need to do is to look back at your statements. The same goes with making purchases with a credit or debit card. If you tend to use cash a lot, you will need to start saving the receipts. At the end of the month, you can simply take all your receipts and enter them into your monthly budget. Be as accurate as possible, putting down every cup of coffee that you have purchased. After all, that $3 latte on your way to work, can turn into $15 a week, or $780 a year.

Once you have finished recording all your positive and negative cash flows, it is time to scrutinize your budget. Rent or mortgage is probably your biggest expense, and often times non-negotiable. However, if you find that it is taking up more than 40 percent of your budget, consider having a roommate to help out with the cost. The rest of the budget can be controlled to a greater extent and that is what we will focus on.

Reduce Spending

Unless you are very creative in finding new ways to bring in more income, the only other way to save money is to reduce spending. Like a diet, reducing spending is difficult and is often prone to failure. People often start with extreme ways of scrimping and deprive themselves of spending, only to find themselves a shopping binge later. What you need to do is the opposite. You need to start slowly, reducing your expenses one at a time so that you can gradually get accustomed to a new lifestyle. After all, reducing spending is about changing the way you live your life on a daily basis.

How do you do this? We’ve already established that your $3 latte-a-day habit can set you back $780 in a year. Instead of quitting cold turkey, you could go slowly. For the first week, make it three lattes a week and subbing the other days with regular coffee. After a while, you will get used to the regular coffee and can replace your lattes completely. Further down the line, trying making your coffee once a week instead of buying it. Slowly replace homemade coffee with store-bought coffee. Again, once you get into the habit of making your coffee every morning, it will become easier that you won’t even think twice about how inconvenient it is. You might even prefer it to standing on line at the coffee shop.

This method pretty much works for most kinds of spending. What you don’t want to do is make a drastic change too quickly. What ends up happening is that the extreme change leaves you feeling too deprived early on. You end up giving up because it is “too hard” and return to your own ways because you feel that you “need” it, whether it is coffee, a new pair of shoes, or a beer at the bar.

Buy What You Need

We all buy things knowing very well that we really don’t need them. It is difficult to control ourselves when we see the newest cell phone model or shoes on display at the mall. The best way to stop temptation is to make less shopping trips.

Shopping has become one of America’s favorite pastime. We go to the mall when we are bored or when we want to meet up with friends. However, every time we pay a visit to the shopping center, we feel compelled to make a purchase, especially with discounts and markdowns. Even when we buy something that is 50 percent off, we are not saving money if we don’t need the item in the first place. What we need to do is find other activities to occupy our time, whether it be watching a movie at home or going for a run. If you tend to socialize at the mall, find a new place such as a coffee shop or the local park. If your friend loves to shop, let her know about your plan to save money so that she will understand. The last thing you want to do is go shopping with a shopaholic, who will simply encourage you to make purchases.

However, going on shopping sprees isn’t the only way we spend money. We make purchases everywhere we go—at the supermarket, the discount store, and even the gas station. Again, what we want to do is buy what we need, not deprive ourselves. If we are thirsty, we might want to purchase a bottle of soda. But before we make the purchase, we should ask ourselves how much soda will we realistically drink? Are we really going to finish the 24 oz or do we just really need a can? Many people become caught up with the idea that more is cheaper and better, and simply disregard what they need. What ends up happening is a lot of wasting. This is especially true with sale items. We might end up buying three cartons of juice if it goes on sale, yet halfway through the second carton, we either get sick of it or it becomes expired. Therefore, we should only stock up items that we know we will definitely use within a reasonable time frame.

Eliminate What You Don’t Need

Cutting out things you don’t need is more difficult than not buying things. This has to do with habits that have grown over the years. This step will probably make you feel the most deprived but it can be accomplished. What you need to do is find ways to substitute what you have eliminated.

A good example to use here is cable TV. Cable bills can run upward of a hundred dollars a month, depending on the service plan. We might claim that we need it for relaxation after work, but we can’t claim we need it for survival. Again, what you want to do is eliminate things gradually. Look into your plan and see if you really need all those channels. Then downgrade your cable service to what you absolutely need to watch. Meanwhile, look for other ways to substitute what you have eliminated. After getting rid of the movie channels, consider joining a DVD monthly rental service like Netflix for movies. Better yet, take advantage of your local library and borrow your DVDs for free. Just make sure that the substitution is worthwhile before you make the change. If a lack of cable TV sends you to the mall, than the substitution might cost you more in the end.

Know How To Save

There are many tips and strategies that will help you save money in all expense categories. Many people simply are not aware of them. Some of the tips don’t even require any deprivation, simply a change of habit. Here are some of them:

Saving Money on Food

Food is probably the next biggest category of our expenses. If you have a large family to feed, your grocery bill will be quite large. There are ways to cut down on your grocery bill without a great deal of effort. First thing you need to do is go shopping after a full meal. People tend to make more impulse food purchases on an empty stomach. Avoid bringing other family members to the market all the time, especially children. They will spur you to make unintended purchases. Always go with a shopping list. Even though most of us probably won’t stick to the list religiously, we will stay more focused in purchasing what we need if we bring a list.

Other tips will require a bit more effort and change in our habits. We should get into the habit of looking at the price per unit, which is posted next to the actual price when we compare products. The actual price is not always reflective of value since you the product will vary in size. Generic brands tend to be cheaper than name brand goods. They are often just as good as the name brands. However, there might be brands for certain items that you feel are irreplaceable. Rather than deprive yourself, look for coupons in the paper for these products. Beware of clipping coupons for items that you don’t want or need; this will defeat the purpose of using coupons to help you save money. For raw ingredients, it is generally easier to make the substitute since there will be very little taste difference in the end product. You probably won’t be able to distinguish Arm and Hammer baking soda from generic baking soda used in a cake.

Finally, determine what items to buy in bulk to save money. Dry ingredients, such as salt, sugar, pasta and grains can be stored for a long time. If you do quite a bit of cooking, it is probably worthwhile to stock up on basic items, especially during a sale. However, dairy and produce have a short shelf life. Only buy what you need so that you don’t end up throwing it away.

Avoid buying lots of frozen or pre-packaged meals. They tend to more expensive and less healthy. Learning to cook meals with raw ingredients is probably the best way to save money on food. If you find it tiring to cook meals every day of the week, try cooking larger batches each time so that you can have leftovers for the next day. Soup, stews and sauces tend to freeze better than others, if you get tired of eating leftovers the next day. Even if you are not so much a cook, you can still avoid the extra expense of prepackaged foods. You can simply peel and cut your own carrot sticks instead of buying the precut ones, or divvy up a box of cereal or cookies into a bunch of Ziploc bags.

Finally, save money by eating out less. We sometimes go out to eat for pleasure, which is sometimes necessary. What we want to avoid is eating out everyday because we have made that into a lunch or dinner habit. Start by bringing your lunch once or twice a week instead of ordering or eating out. Sandwiches and salads often don’t require a lot of skills to prepare and are cheaper than the deli-made version. Do the same for dinner. Eventually you will find that preparing your own meals isn’t so difficult after all.

Saving Money on Utilities

Saving money on utilities is all about changing our habits. There is no deprivation or substitution required for most cases. The number one bad habit we fall into is leaving the lights on everywhere. We really do not need five lights on when we are only present in one of the rooms in the house. Make it a habit to turn off the lights each time you leave the room. Also, get all members of your household to do the same and gently remind them each time they forget. Switch to energy efficient lightbulbs if you have not already done so. Unplug appliances and devices that are not used at the moment; it only takes two seconds to plug them back in when you do need to use them. Although there is a push for energy-efficient appliances, don’t rush to the store and immediately replace everything. You are not really saving money or helping the environment if you throw out a perfectly fine washer for an energy-efficient one.

The same goes for running water. Turn off the faucet when you are brushing your teeth or rinsing the dishes. If you have a lawn, let mother nature take care of the watering instead of turning your sprinklers on 24-7. Run the washer or dishwasher only when you have a full load. Again, it is important to get your family on board.

Most importantly, reducing your heating bill will help you save a great deal of money. If you live in a place where winters are bitterly cold, heating is probably your largest utility expense. Before winter, take care to caulk all cracks and leaks around your window and doorway. You can also purchase plastic wraps from the home improvement store to cover your windows and block out drafts. Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to preset a lower temperature when you are away at work. If possible, turn down the temperature when you go to sleep as well.

Saving Money on Gas

For many of us, driving to work in not an option. To make things even harder, we are at mercy to the market and the constant fluctuation of oil prices. There are still some ways to save money on gas.

If you like to put the gas to the pedal, then you will need to stop doing that to save money. You will use less gas if you drive at a lower and constant mileage. In the end, it will only save you a few minutes if you drive 10 miles faster. Also, go online and research for the station that sells the cheapest gas. Also, places such as Costco and Sam’s Club offer cheaper gas if you have membership. Some supermarkets will also give you a discount on their gas if you shop at their stores. When you do get gas, make sure you fill up your tank completely. This will avoid expensive emergency gas trips along the highway.

Saving Money on Entertainment

Entertainment has gotten much more expensive over the past few years. A family of four going to the movies can cost more than $50 and a ticket to the aquarium might cost $25. That does not mean that you cannot enjoy yourself for less or even for free. There are plenty of events offered to the public for free, such as town fairs, festivals and concerts in the park. All it requires is a bit of research on your part. You can simply log onto your city or town’s main website and look at the calendar for free events. The library usually posts events and workshops for the public on their bulletin. This is the part of saving money that can be fun as well.

With a positive mindset and hard work, you will be able to save money and reach your goal.

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How to Become Famous

What is being famous?

Becoming famous is the dream of many people around the world. Whether it is political fame or becoming a pop star, the idea of being famous is one that is commonly shared. So what does it mean to be famous? Being famous means that you are widely known and recognized for something you’ve done (Steven Spielberg for his directing career) or something you didn’t do (Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat on the bus). There are many ways to achieve fame and recognition. It is important to first figure out what your talents are and expand from there. It will be easier to become known for something that comes natural to you so that you can still be who you are.

Visualize your success

In order to obtain fame, you must first visualize it. You have to be able to picture yourself walking down the red carpet or accepting a Nobel Prize award. There is a theory behind consistent visualization that states that if you put out your wants and desires out into the universe, you will be likely to receive exactly what you want. The universe is made up of energy and so are you. Energy is in everything around you. Therefore, if you continue to send out positive energy and thoughts into the universe regarding your wants and desires, you will be able to have the world work with you instead of against you. According to The Secret, people who sit and wallow in their misfortune will only attract more of that same misfortune. Negative energy attracts only more negative energy. In order to start making your life work for you, think positive and wrap yourself up only in positive energies.

Figure out what you are good at

To begin your road to discovery and distinction, you must first figure out what you want to be known for. Take the time to review the things that you are passionate about. Write a list of all of your interests, hobbies, talents. From that list, figure out what your natural passions are. These are the things that you already naturally love to do. A lot of people have no idea that they already have passions. They go around trying to make themselves passionate about something when all along, they have been doing what they love the whole time. So how do you know? Well some of the most complex answers to life are staring you right in the face. If you find yourself rushing home from work to catch your favorite cooking show, and you are always studying cookbooks on your lunch breaks and you can’t seem to stop testing new recipes in your spare time, then you just might be in love with cooking. If you find yourself singing all the time, everywhere you go, then you might just love singing. All you have to do is step back and take a good look at what you tend to naturally do without a second thought. If you believe that you have any potential in making this a career, then you should begin to pursue it. All you need to start off is passion and a plan.

You have free will over your life

We all have the free will to do anything that we want. This means that you actually can do anything that you wanted to. The reason why we don’t just do anything we want is because there are rules created to keep order from potential chaos. Due to rules, societal pressures, family obligations, upbringings and any other form of human control, we as people forget that we are actually in complete control of our lives. Some people believe that your life is already predetermined and that nothing you do will change the final outcome of your existence. Whether this is your belief or not, at this point in your life, at this very second you are in control of every action that you make. Although we are in control, there are reactions to our actions. When you are programmed to fear possible reactions and consequences to certain acts of behavior, then you lose some of your ability to believe that you are still actually believe that you will always be in control.

With this being said, it is necessary to point out that you have the power to make anything happen in your life. It might appear that you are in the hands of the rest of the world’s mercy. But this is not the case. The people who are successful and famous, are the ones who do not let life control them. They learn how to control life. If you think about it, we were all born with clear minds and the potential to do anything. It is when you get dipped into society and programmed to think and behave a certain way. You have to reprogram your mind to act under your free will. Not the concept of free will to inject chaos and disorder to civilization, but the free will to create your own success and fortune. You technically have the potential to do anything you want to do. You just might have forgotten that a long time ago. Now is the time to remember.

Dreams vs. Reality

What is the difference between our dreams and reality? Well for starters, one takes place when we are awake and the other, when we are asleep. Some people actually have dreams where they believe that they are awake but they are still asleep. If you were to ever have one of those dreams, the one where you think you are asleep but you are awake, wouldn’t it be nice to be aware of your current dream state? If you knew you were dreaming while you were dreaming, then this would mean that you could have control of everything in your dream world. You would use your mind to make anything happen, and it would happen. You could begin to fly, bring back to life that car you crashed five years ago, or even become a famous singer with fans across the world lining up to hear you perform. In your dreams, anything is possible if you have control over your mind. So how is this any different from reality? How do you know that this very moment is not a dream right now? Dreams and reality both take place in your mind. Once you have control over your own mind, you have control of your world. You can make anything happen, just like in your dreams. If you can control your mind, you can control your dreams. If you can control your dreams, you can control your life. This is the first step in making your dreams a reality. Dreams are only a faint reflection of pieces of reality whether clear or distorted. Both are part of your existence and your mind. It is time to make your dreams come true through reality.

Believe in yourself

Before anyone will believe in you, you must believe in yourself. You have to honestly believe in yourself. This means that you must be doing something you love for you cannot truly and deeply believe in yourself if you aren’t doing what you love. There is a difference between believing in yourself and convincing yourself that you are doing what you love. This might sound crazy, but it is very common. Sometimes, it is so common that you aren’t even aware that you could be doing it right now. Why would someone have to convince themselves that what they are doing right now, is the thing that they love? Well one reason could be that you have family or friends who put a lot of pressure on you to make smart and logical decisions that result in a safe and sturdy future. You could be in banking right now and love your job dearly. If you are, then congratulations, you are part of a unique group of people who have found their passion in life. But, if you are in banking right now and you do not love your job, but you believe that it is the right thing to do, then you need to reevaluate your life. Have you had dreams of doing something completely different? You should begin planning a change in your life. This doe not have to be a drastic one at first because we do live in the real world and it is rather inconvenient to drop everything in your life. Just remember that people change careers several times in a lifetime. Why not strive towards something you have dreamed of being?

Becoming Famous: Music

There are many ways to be famous in the entertainment industry. You could be a singer, dancer, actor/actress, musician, comedian and many more other ways. The most common ways people want to achieve fame in the entertainment industry are either becoming n actor or actress, or a singer. In order to gain fame as a singer or musician, you must simply begin singing and playing wherever you are. Whether you live in a small town or a big city, begin to start singing everywhere you can. Start to contact any venues for gigs and performances. It is important to just get your own hometown familiar with your face first. You will next need to create a demo. Find a local recording studio to start recording your demos. Your demo will serve as a resume for the agent that you present it to. Studio time will not be free, but if you network well, and continue to perform throughout your city, then you might be able to work out a deal with a local studio. It will all be worth it because you need the demo to get the attention of an agent. Your next is to find an agent. An agent has all of the connections to get your gigs, and further music your career. Your agent will get a cut of all of the work that he or she gets you. After you get your agent, and are performing as frequently as you can, you may want to enter into some contests. Contests are a great way to get exposure and the chance at a record deal. Do as many as you can and remember to just keep performing because this is what you love to do.

Becoming Famous: Acting

If you are looking to become a famous actor or actress, then the first step you must take is to learn how to act. Many people believe that they can just go out to Hollywood and get discovered in a restaurant or walking down the street. You must have proper acting classes to backup your passion. Even all of the professionals who have been in dozens of blockbusters still need to take lessons to make them better actors. It is up to you to make yourself the best actor you can be by signing up for acting lessons of all kinds to get a broad knowledge of acting. Once you take some professional acting lessons, you will have a greater chance at getting work in places that work is mostly available. These places consist of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami, as well as various places in Canada. There are other places that have potential acting work, but those are the top places. Move out to where the work is and attend as many casting calls as you can. Also it will be important to get a headshot. Once you get a professional headshot, you can send it in to casting agents along with a resume and cover letter. Be persistent and keep in touch with casting agents and directors. In this industry you must be determined and willing to sacrifice many hours to get work. You might start off with small parts at first but just keep acting and slowly working your way up to larger roles.

Becoming Famous: Write a book

If music and acting really isn’t your strong point, then why not write a book? You can write about pretty much anything spanning from fiction to non-fiction. Becoming an author is another way to gain fame, especially if your book does very well. First, you must make the decision to become dedicated. Writing a book takes a commitment in order to finish it. So you must find out what your subject will be. Figure out whether or not you will be writing a fiction or non-fiction book. Once you have your book idea, you can either begin to write a proposal for the book or actually start writing the book. Some new writers just go about writing the book but others like to create a proposal for their book first. A proposal is an outline of your book as well as some sample chapters that you will send to a publisher. Most of the time, non-fiction writers can sell their books through a proposal more than fiction. When it comes to writing the book, you must get into the habit of writing every single day. This will be the only way you will have the stamina to finish your book. Writing should be something you love. Or at least the topic you are writing about should be very important to you. Remember to keep in mind that you want people to read your book. This means that you have to find a particular audience and appeal to them. You will not be able to reach every reader out there so the sooner you find a target audience the sooner you will be able to have a more narrow focus with your book idea.

Becoming Famous: Internet fame

Internet fame is becoming more and more popular as computers and technology take over the lives of many people around the world. You may not be the singing type or even the book writing type. If you find yourself on the computer for most of your day surfing the internet, then you may want to consider becoming famous through the World Wide Web. You need to put your name out there. Get people to recognize you. There are a few ways to do this on the internet. You can start by creating a series on You Tube. There are a lot of people who put up a YouTube video which attracts a lot of attention. After they have their short fame, then it’s over and people move on to the next video. You can figure out what people are watching and create an entire series. Continue to put up videos so that you can create a fan base and keep them coming back. Treat this like any other television series. After your first video, if you do not get many viewers, then try moving on to a different idea. Now you do not have to make an entire sitcom to have a series. You can record whatever you like, just make sure you continue to put out videos. In addition to You Tube, you can also make a website or blog that you update daily. It is important to update close to everyday so that people know that you are a real person and can keep up with you. Make sure to be on as many social networks as you can. The more friends you have, the better. The internet is all about directing traffic to your sites.

One Life to Live

You only have one life to live, so begin living it now. As you get older, time will pass by and you will be left wondering where all the years went. Now, if you were granted another life to live after this current one, then perhaps you would have a second chance to do everything that you want to do. Since this is most likely not the case, it is imperative to just go for it now. Whether you want to be a famous dancer or motivational speaker, you have to make it your goal to get there. You need to research people who have made it to where you want to be. Figure out a plan and stick to it. You will love yourself for at least trying. You never know, you could be the next star. But you won’t know unless you try.

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