Focusing on Focus – How to Be Best at Things

I find that in life I become good at things that I focus my time and resources on and that I’m not so good at things that I don’t focus my time and resources on. This is something that sounds obvious, but for some reason I’ve had to relearn this concept several times over throughout live. There are so many things that I want to do and be good at but the fact of the matter is that I don’t have time and resources to focus on them all, let alone, be good at them all. So, how do we know what to focus on and what to not focus on? That’s what I’m going to talk about in this episode.

I really struggle with focus. My struggle mostly comes in two different ways. For one, I focus on the wrong things, which are things that really aren’t that important to me. You know those squirrel moments when you get distracted by something shiny and entertaining. “Oh look, my friend just bought a new toy and I’d sure like to have a new toy like that.” Those squirrel moments seem to get me all the time and take my focus away from the things that matter most to me. Also, when I do get focused on something, I’m really bad about finding balance in life. It seems like when it comes to focus, I’m all or nothing. I either have a lot of focus in a particular area of life or I have no focus. I’m not very good at juggling a lot of different things. When I’m focused on sometime like training for a triathlon, or competing in a diet competition, or when it’s hunting season, I’m really focused on that particular thing but then I don’t focus enough time on other important things like paying attention to relationships, my faith, and my personal finances. I know focus means focus, but it seems like sometimes I over focus and this could hurt me in other areas of life that are important to me.

What you focus on is completely up to you and therefore what you become best at is completely up to you. The great thing about the freedom that we enjoy is that we get to decide what we spend time on. We get to decide what we’re good at and what we do with our time and resources. So, why does it seem like we’re “too busy” all the time to do the things that we want to do? There are many things that I love doing that I would like to do more of. Things like hunting, fishing, cycling, hiking, making stuff, and the list goes on and on, and this is where I get into trouble. For what I will call a season of my life, I’ll be more focused on one area of my life. For example, during the fall, it’s hunting season. I spend several weekends tromping around the woods, looking like Elmer Fud, looking for a volunteer for dinner. I think it’s fun to pursue the things in life that I enjoy doing, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, for me, when I’m hunting so much, I often loose sight of the other things that are going on in my life. Like relationships that are very important to me. Recently, when I was in a competition to lose weight, I was really focused on losing weight. I was working out in the mornings and in the evenings, I was prepping food, and different thoughts about how I was doing weight wise were constantly on my mind. Many of my conversations with other people involved something about how I was working on losing weight. During this time, sure, I was successful at losing weight, but I was failing at other areas of life. I was so focused on losing weight that I lost focus on other things that are also important to me. This was one of the more recent times that I relearned how much focus affect my life.

Just as a quick exercise, let’s break down the daily time spent on various things for a typical person. You only have so much time in the day. If you live on earth, you have 24 hours in a day. And if you’re like most people you likely sleep for 7ish hours of that. Leaving you 17 hours to do with what you please. When you wake up in the morning, if it’s a typical week, you’re likely going to go to a job. It might take someone 30 minutes to get ready for work and then it might take a person 30 minutes to get to work. Then you take a lunch break in the middle of the day, and this could burn up between 30 minutes to an hour. So, when we add this all up work is going to take somewhere between 10 hours of your day between getting ready and getting home if you work a full-time job. So, this leaves you 7 hours which sounds like a lot but then we spend time to eat breakfast, dinner, do the dishes, go water the lawn, and if you have kids the list is endless of the stuff that you have to do. So, how much time do you have left after you whittle down your 7 hours? Hardly any. That means you really don’t have a lot of time to focus on things that you really want to focus on. If you don’t have a lot of time, then it becomes even more important to prioritize the things that you want to do. Often times, I catch myself wasting my time by doing things that I know aren’t really that important to me. Then why do I do them? Because I’m not paying attention to what I’m allowing to sneak into my life. We need to be intentional about what we spend our time doing if we want to best utilize our time and if we want to be good at certain things. There are things that I want to be the best I can be at, and if I want this to actually happen, then I need to be intentional about making time to do those things.

When you stop and count there are so many areas in life that require your attention. Let’s look at some of the big ones. The first area is human relationships. When it comes to relationships you have your spouse, your kids, other family members, like parents, siblings, cousins, etc. There are also friend relationships like weekend friends, church friends, work friends, and hobby friends. There are lots of relationships that you have. If you want these relationships to grow and thrive, that takes your time and your focus. Do you have time to focus on growing all of your relationships to their full potential? No, unless you don’t have anything to do and you only know one person on the face of the planet. This is obviously not you because this is obviously not anyone. We all know several people and we have busy lives.

Let’s look at another area of your life, work and career. If you’re working, then work is a huge part of your life and it’s sucking up a big chunk of your time and energy. Work is important because your work is where you gain the financial means to live the lifestyle that you want to live. Your work will allow you to help your kids get through college. Your work will help you save up for retirement so you can someday be able to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. We can see that work is important for various reasons so we should continue to do work.

Our faith is also a very important part of life. For those of us who have a faith and believe in something, it’s important for us to spend time learning and growing within our faith. Like any other area of life, this takes focus.

Another area of life is our finances. If you live in any advanced society you need money as a medium of exchange and you need money to pay for these things that all of us seem to accumulate, called bills. The better we are at our finances the more options we will have available to us in different areas of life. What I mean by this is, if we can afford to spend more, then we can go to a nicer restaurant, afford a nicer car, buy a nicer home, or retire earlier to have more free time. Finances are an important part of life just like many other areas of life that require our focus.

The list can go on and on about the different areas of life that require our focus. Just think of what just a few more of those are. Cleaning the house, weeding your yard, taking the kids to school, paying your taxes, and of course, hobbies. There are so many things that can take our focus away!

So, how do we know what areas of life we want to focus on in order to be best at? That’s a great question. I think the only reasonable answer is that, it’s totally up to you. You get to decide if you’re going to spend time with your kids and be a great parent or if you’re going to spend time at your job and have a great career. Are you going to focus time on your finances and create a rock-solid financial foundation for you and your family or are going to spend no time on your finances and find yourself living paycheck to paycheck and on the brink of financial disaster?

Is there such thing as a balanced life? I’d like to say that you should strive for balance in life. But, what does this even mean? Does it mean that we give a little attention to a lot of different things? If this is the case then we’re not really going to be best at anything, we’re just going to be ok. I don’t know about you but I don’t really want to be just ok when it comes to being a good husband to my wife. I want to be better than ok. This means that I need to spend more time being a better husband if it’s something that I want to be better at. I think aspects of having a balanced life could be a good thing, but I don’t think this is really realistic. I’m sure if I ask people to prioritize different areas of their live then they would say something like faith comes first, family comes in a close second, and work comes in a distant third, and so on. But the truth of the matter is that we spend a whole bunch more time working for money during the week than we do working on our faith. Many of us only get into church a couple times a month and yet say that faith is one of the most important parts of our lives. When we look at how much time we spend on things each week, is this really the case? Are we spending time on the things that we actually want to be best at?

So how do I stay focused on the things that I want to stay focused on? I think the best way to do this is to decide on paper on purpose what it is that I want to be focused on. This means setting goals and creating a plan to achieve those goals in different parts of my life. By writing it down and having it in a place that I can constantly review, this will help me to redirect my attention back towards the plan when I veer off the plan. This will help me to not focus too much time on squirrels and will also help me not to too deep into focus on something while missing other important areas of life. That way I can have the amount of balance that I want to have. I can prioritize different areas of life and make sure that I’m spending adequate time in those areas.

Our focus can be a difficult thing to mast sometimes. If we want to reach our goals, we must be intentional about where we focus your time and resources. If we want to be successful in many different areas in life, we must be careful not to put too much focus in one area of life and not enough in another area of life. If you’re like me and need help staying focused create a plan on paper for reaching your goals and reviewing it regularly. This will help you keep important areas of your life prioritized.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Thanks for reading it!

How to Make Your Own Luck

I love to be lucky and I consider myself a lucky person. There are countless times in my life where something has really good has happened to me that made me think, “I am so lucky”. But, what is luck? Is it something that we can make more of? Well, I believe that we can make more luck in our lives and that is what this episode is going to be about.

What if you were so lucky that you just happened to land the job of your dreams? What if you were so lucky that you acquired an impressive amount of wealth? What if you were so lucky that you married the person that was way out of your league? What if I told you that you could create your own luck? That would sound great, right?

Who doesn’t like to be lucky? No one! We all like to be lucky. I’ll take any amount of luck that I can get! I think there’s a way to bring even more luck in our lives, or, at least, build a life that makes it seem like we have more luck. What if luck was simply a word that some people use to describe other people who are intentional about reaching their goals? What if you realized that you didn’t need luck to get what you wanted but instead you simply needed a plan and to take action on that plan? Would your world be different if you knew that you could have just about anything that you want to have, not because you were lucky, but because you were intentional about getting it?

A very successful CFO once told me that if you want to be successful you have to work hard so that whenever an opportunity presents itself, you’ll be ready to seize it. If you’re sitting on a couch at home doing nothing important, how are you going to achieve anything? If you’re out there busting your tail, getting things done, meeting people, and developing new skills, of course you’re going to be presented with opportunities. So, with this idea that we can make our own success, in a way we also make our own luck. If becoming successful is equal to being lucky and we know by making plans and taking action, that we can become successful, then by that same principal, we can become lucky.

There is a quote that’s been attributed to different people over the years and has different variations. The gist of the quote goes like this, “I’m a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I have.” Isn’t this true! Haven’t you found this to be true in your own life? When you’ve worked hard, were you not rewarded for your hard work?

Let’s look at a scenario that demonstrates how we can confuse success for luck.

A guy named Sam is working very hard at his job. He has been with his employer for seven years now. He’s always on time, he helps his co-workers, he has a great attitude, and he’s very knowledgeable when it comes to his job.

One day, Sam’s boss announces that he’s going to retire. Upper management needs to find a replacement for Sam’s boss and upper management decides that Sam is man for the job. Sam is great with people, he knows how to do most of the jobs in the department because he’s been there for a good amount of time and he’s always been open to learning new things. Some of Sam’s coworkers are a little miffed at Sam because they’ve been with the company longer than Sam. However, these other workers never took the time to learn other jobs within the department, they were the types that did the bare minimum to get their jobs done. They never really helped anyone else in the department, because they figured they weren’t getting paid to do someone else’s job. Sam is really happy about his promotion. This promotion came with a nice raise that Sam and his family will really enjoy. When others congratulate Sam for his big promotion, Sam just says, “Oh, I just got lucky.” But, did luck really have anything to do with it? Do you think that the upper management who chose Sam to take over his boss’s job based their decision on luck? Do you think they just flipped a coin to see who would take over the boss’s job? No, they chose Sam simply because they thought he was the best person for the job and no other reason.

So, a person might argue “Well, Sam was lucky to have gotten the job with the company in the first place.” My response to that would be, “So, did Sam’s employer just opened a phone book and randomly picked a name to hire someone for Sam’s job?” No, that’s not what happened at all. Sam went and interviewed with the company and the company hired Sam based off his prior work experience, his former education, and the responses from the references that Sam had listed on his resume. Sam put forth effort in order to get hired by that company.

We can see that Sam’s promotion was not luck, it was earned. We can also see that Sam getting hired on by the company was not luck, it was earned. So, a person might then argue “Well, the United States is a great country, it’s the land of opportunity, and Sam was just lucky to be born here.” But, we have to ask ourselves, “Is that really luck?” I don’t think it is. Sam’s great grandfather sold everything he had in Ireland in order pay for the trip over to the United States. When his great grandfather got to the US, he had less than a dollar to his name. From there he worked and worked and worked so that he could provide for a family. That family had a family, which had a family, which had a family, which Sam was a part of. Sam didn’t get to the US by luck, but by the huge price that was paid by his family members.

As we’ve dived deeper into Sam’s situation, we can see that there really was no luck involved with any aspect of how he got to where he is. Really, it was a series of smart decisions that required a lot of hard work. Why is it then that so many of us are convinced that becoming successful in life is all about being lucky, when luck has absolutely nothing to do with it? Often times, when we see someone who has been very successful, we like to say, “Oh, they just got lucky.” But really this isn’t the case. Again, it’s all about making the right decisions and working hard. In every case that I can think of where someone might be considered lucky, I can break down the scenario, and can pinpoint an action or several actions that was/were taken for that person to get to where they are. Think of my prior example of winning the lottery. Winning the lottery would require luck, right? Wrong. Actually, it doesn’t require luck, it requires buying a lottery ticket. Without buying a lottery ticket, then you’re not even going to have a chance to win the lottery. The same idea is true with the guy on the couch. If a guy never gets off the couch to go out and look for job then he’s probably not going to find a job, let alone his dream job. But, what if that same guy gets off the couch, get’s the education he needs for his dream job, applies at 10 different companies, gets hired, starts doing a job that he doesn’t want to do but knows that eventually that job can get him to the job that he does want. Then after 2 years, he gets promoted to the job that he’s really been wanting. It took him time, dedication, and a lot of hard work, but guess what? He eventually got his dream job! Did luck have anything to do with it? Absolutely not! When good things happen to us, it’s not that we were lucky. When bad things happen to us, it’s not about being unlucky. Most of the time, it’s about decisions we make, actions we take, and the outcomes that are produced due to those actions. Do good things and good results will come. Do bad things and bad results will come. It’s that simple.

My friends, you can make your own luck! You do this by taking action towards your goals, by creating a plan and working on that plan. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you give it what it needs to grow well. I really do find that the harder I work, the more luck I get. It’s the same for you in your life. If you have a vision for what you want your life to look like, it’s not luck that is going to get you there. It’s you.

How to Lose Weight

Hey guys! In this post I’m going to talk about my recent experience with weight loss, the basic weight loss principles that have helped me, and also tricks that I’ve been using to shed the pounds. First, I want to let you guys know that I’m not a weight loss expert. But I want to share some things with you guys that have helped me lose weight. This subject is something that I’m really interested in right now because for the last couple years I haven’t been really paying attention to what I was eating and how often I was exercising. I was focused on other areas of life and during this time, I gained some unwanted weight. I would say that I’ve been a fairly slender person most of my life. However, over the last couple years I’ve gotten a little pudgy, I would have considered myself skinny-fat. What I mean by skinny-fat is that I’ve never been someone who put on a lot of muscle mass. I’ve always been good at cardio type exercises and endurance training because it’s just the body type that I’ve had. Having this body type has helped me to “hide” body fat pretty easily because I haven’t really been a big bulky type of person. When I gain fat it’s usually around my mid-section. Recently, I noticed that I had gained more weight than I would like to admit. My wife who is a personal trainer and who has studied nutrition, measured my body fat percentage by the pinching method. This can be a pretty uncomfortable way to calculate your bodyfat percentage but in my opinion getting pinched can be one of the most accurate ways to measure body fat. I knew that I was the fattest that I’ve ever been and sure enough the fat pinch measurement proved it. I was over 21% body fat, which is very high for me. Just two years ago I was around 16%. Seeing that my body fat percentage was so high was an eye opener. It really woke me up and gave me the sense that I needed to do something about it.

Just last month, in January, the company that I work for put on a biggest loser challenge that started, from the time of this recording, about 6 and a half weeks ago. Knowing that I was the fattest that I have ever been I thought it would be a good idea to enter the challenge as a motivator to help me lose weight. So far, in the last 6 weeks or so, I’ve been able to lose about 15 pounds. I know that’s not a lot of weight to some people, but I’ve been able to really tell that I’ve lost weight, and it has felt like a significant amount to me.  I hope to lose even more before the challenge ends in about 5 weeks from now. At the end of the challenge I’ll have my wife do another body fat percentage measurement to see how much overall bodyfat that I lost.

So, lets jump into the things that I’ve learned over the last couple months that have helped me burn off the pounds. The biggest key to fat loss is regularly having a  calorie deficit. What this means is that you burn more calories during the day than you consume. One way of thinking about it is calories out versus calories in. The latest fad diet doesn’t really matter. The only way any weight loss/fat loss diet is going to work is if you have a calorie deficit. If you have more calories come in from consuming food than went out your body from expending energy, then it’s simple, your body is going to store those extra calories as fat. On the other hand, if your body burns more calories than you consumed, then your body will need to burn fat in order to make up for the lack of consumed calories.

Let’s consider for a moment the burning calories part of that equation for a second. Your body burns calories just being alive. There’s a fancy term for this called resting metabolic rate. Each person is going to burn a different number of calories per day depending on a whole bunch of factors like muscle mass, age, sex, and many other factors. Not only is each person going to burn a different number of calories, but the rate at which a person’s body burns calories can change over time. I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds on this, because my goal is to keep things simple. For me, I’m guessing that I burn somewhere around 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day just being alive, not including any type of exercise. Just to make the numbers easy let’s say that I burn 2,000 calories a day.

Ok, now let’s look at the other part of the calorie deficit equation, the amount of calories in. Calories in refers to how many calories a person consumes during the day. In other words, how much they ate. If you eat a lot of high calorie food, then obviously you’re taking on a lot of calories. If you only eat a few low-calorie items during the day, then your calorie intake is going to be very low.

Now let’s combine the two calorie deficit pieces to look at the equation together. To go back to my previous example that my natural rate of calories that I burn each day is around 2,000. This means that if I only consume around 1,800 calories then I’m going to have a deficit of 200 calories, which means that I will burn a little bit of body fat at the end of the day. If my body burns 2000 calories and I consume 2,200 calories, then I’m going to add to my body fat. Now I know some of you out there who have studied nutrition and exercising extensively are probably saying to yourself right now that “it’s not that simple.” But for me, it is. I know that if I consume less calories than I burn, then I’m going to lose weight I might know all the science behind it, but the fact remains. The greater the calorie deficit you have on a daily basis the more you’re going to burn.

Here are the tricks that I’ve used to help me lower my calorie intake.

  1. The first trick is that I eliminated about 90% of the junk food that was eating. While I was at work, I would often eat cookies, candy, donuts, and any other goodies that I could get my hands on. I also has several bad eating habits that I had to kick. One was eating a bunch of junk food when I got home from work. I usually get home from work around 5:30pm and the first thing I would do is start digging in our snack cupboard and eat chips, cookies, granola bars or whatever else I could find. Then I would eat a good size dinner after an hour or so. Another eating habit that I had to kick was eating a full bag of buttery popcorn late at night. When I started dieting and trying to lose weight for the biggest loser competition, I looked to see how many calories were in a bag of popcorn and it was over 500! That’s a lot considering that’s about a quarter of what I need during the day. I was simply eating the popcorn as a snack and it was adding a lot of calories to my daily calorie count. Cleaning up my eating habits was the first thing I did because it was easy to do, I just say no. However, I did say that I illuminated 90% of my junk food eating, not 100%. Occasionally, I still eat something sweet or have a small bag of “healthy” popcorn. Eating clean has eliminated a lot of unnecessary calories that I was consuming.
  2. The second trick to lower calorie intake that I’ve been implementing is eating a lot of vegetables. Almost every week since starting the biggest loser challenge, I’ve been cutting up different veggies like celery, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, and other veggies and putting them in a large Tupperware bowl. That way I can eat them throughout the week as a snack. When I get hungry around that 10am time or that 3pm time I eat a few veggies to kill my appetite. One of the hardest times for me to control my food cravings is just before dinner time. Some nights I feel like I can eat just about any quantity of food. Dinner time is definitely the time of day that I feel the hungriest. To keep myself from eating too many calories I’ll start dinner off with a large salad or eat a bunch of plain celery and cucumber. I don’t put any dressing on the celery or cucumber because I’m basically just eating it to be a filler. After I fill up on veggie appetizers, then I’ll eat my main course for dinner, and after eating all the veggies I don’t feel as hungry and therefore don’t eat as much of the main course, which helps me to minimize my calorie intake. So, overall, more veggies and less other stuff is likely going to help you lower your daily calorie intake.
  3. The final trick that I’ve learned during my dieting is being comfortable feeling hungry. For me, I almost always feel hungry. And through this process recently I’ve had to come to the reality that it’s ok to feel hungry. I feel like I could eat all the time, but that doesn’t mean that I need to eat all the time. If I ate as much as I felt like it, I would weigh twice as much as I do and my body fat percentage would be through the roof. While I’ve been on my diet feeling hungry has become a common occurrence. I think this is just because my brain knows that I’m trying to diet and that I’m losing body fat. It’s funny, the times that it seems like I want something sweet is just after I tell myself I’m going to start eating healthier. It’s like my brain is trying to override me dieting. Just because you are craving food or sugar doesn’t mean that you need to eat it. Like I said, if I ate every time something sounds good, I would be eating all the time, and eating all the time isn’t healthy or sustainable.

Ok, we’ve looked at the tricks that I’ve used to lower my calorie intake. Now, lets look at how I increased calorie expenditure to use more energy and burn more fat throughout the week.

  1. The first thing that I did that was a big change for me is I started swimming 3 times a week for about and hour each time. This was just lap swimming at the local YMCA. Nothing special, just waking up early, hitting the pool, getting in some laps, and then starting my day just like usual. I’m guessing that during each swim I would burn about 400 to 500 calories. This basically increased my daily calorie burn from around 2000 to around 2400.
  2. The next thing that I did was started doing more cardio at the gym, way more cardio at the gym. For me, my goal is to lose as much weight as possible, because that’s what the biggest loser competition is based off of. Now, if it was based off losing body fat percentage and not body weight percentage, then I would be doing a lot more lifting with my work out, simply because by building more muscle your body can burn more calories and therefore burn more body fat. Currently, I’m doing about 3 1-hour workouts of cardio in the gym and 1 workout of weightlifting. Later in the year, I’m basically going to switch this around to doing 3 weightlifting workouts a week and 1 1-hour cardio workouts. Again, I’m doing much more cardio right now compared to weightlifting to lose body weight. Later in the year, when I want to put more muscle on, I’m going to start doing more weightlifting and a lot less cardio. Now, doing a lot of cardio at the gym can be pretty boring, so what I suggest doing is switching it up. I’m not one of those types of people that can just sit on the bike for and hour or do the elliptical for an hour. So, what I did when I first started focusing on doing a lot of cardio is, I started using the elliptical for 15 minutes, then I jumped on the stationary bike for 15 minutes, and I have slowly built up time on those pieces of equipment. I’ve also started using the rowing machine to switch things up even more. So, during the week, when I go to the gym to do a cardio workout, I’ll do a total of somewhere between 30 minutes to and hour and 15 minutes of a mix of elliptical, stationary bike, and/or rowing machine. Usually about 2 out of 3 nights per week that I do cardio at the gym, I’ll workout for about an hour. I’m going to try and start bumping that up as my respiratory system starts to get stronger, that way I can keep challenging myself. I’m guessing that during an hour-long workout of using elliptical and bike I’m burning somewhere around 500 to maybe 600 calories depending on the workout intensity.

So, lets put all of this together. The trick to losing weight is having a calorie deficit. It doesn’t matter which fad diet you’re doing – what matters is that you regularly have a calorie deficit. Which, as we’ve learned means burning more calories through energy expenditure than calories that we are consuming through eating. If you want to cut weight fast, do a lot of cardio, and clean up your eating habits along with eating more vegetables. If you’re focused on cutting body fat and not general weight, then implement more weightlifting into your workouts. If you want to cut bodyweight do more cardio and only a little weightlifting. The simple idea of doing more cardio to help me burn more calories, which will expedite my fat loss, makes sense to me. So, I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and what has been working for me. I hope these weight loss tips have been helpful for you and that they help you to reach some of your health goals.

Turning Your Thoughts Into Reality

Have you realized yet that the things that you think about eventually come to pass? Your thoughts are an incredible force that shapes your life. I know this sounds almost whimsical, but it’s true. There have been several times in my life where I thought of certain things and eventually those things became real in my life. Consider this idea just on a small scale. Maybe during the day you think about what sounds good for dinner, “Hmm… getting some teriyaki chicken for dinner sounds good.” So, then while you’re out running errands you pick up some teriyaki chicken that you later eat for dinner. First, you thought about it. Then, you created an opportunity to do it. Then, you followed through on the opportunity. Then finally, you ate teriyaki chicken for dinner. Your initial thought of what to have for dinner became a reality. This is just a small, simple example, but this same concept happens in all areas of your life – where you work, who you marry, what your hobbies will be. Your thoughts dictate your life and the circumstances that you find yourself in. Your thoughts determine your health, wealth, and happiness.

This is how I believe that this whole thought to reality process works. We have a thought in our mind. It’s something that we desire to do or something that we want to have. If we want whatever it is that we’re thinking about bad enough, we’ll work to get it. That means the next step after thinking about something is taking action towards getting it. If that thing we’re thinking about is something small, like getting a glass of water, then we’ll simply do that action of getting a glass of water. If the thing that we’re thinking about is difficult to get, we’ll think of a plan to get to that thing, and then we’ll take action on that plan.

A really great book that talks about this thought to reality concept is the book As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. This book is a classic and was written back in 1902. Its principals have stood the test of time because they are true. One of the first statements that the book make’s is “As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them.” What the author is saying here is that acts originate from your thoughts and this points to the importance of thinking about the future and the things that you want to do and the person that you want to become.

Back in my college days I had a dream of someday getting a specific motorcycle. I even put a picture of this of motorcycle that I wanted up on my wall in my dorm room. At the time, buying this motorcycle was way out of reality for me. I was a broke college kid with hardly any savings to speak of so there was no way of buying this motorcycle at the time. About 8 years later I found the picture of the motorcycle that I had hung on my dorm room wall and realized that the almost exact motorcycle was sitting in my garage. It took time but eventually I was able to get that motorcycle. Buying that motorcycle was a thought that I had carried around in the back of my mind for years and years and eventually I made that thought become a reality.

Here’s another example of how my thoughts created my reality. Many years ago, when I worked in construction industry, I was thinking a lot about what it would be like to work in the finance industry. I found that I really enjoyed finance, I enjoyed budgeting, and learning about how investments worked. There came a time in my life where I needed to look for better opportunities in employment and in stead of looking in the construction industry, where most of my experience was, guess where I looked? In the finance industry. My desire of working in the finance industry caused me to think about different opportunities within that line of work and eventually I found myself working in the financial industry doing something that I love doing. My thoughts eventually defined where I worked. I become someone who was working in the finance industry, which was what I was thinking about.

I realized recently that sometimes the things that others have done before us can affect our life in the present and future. As an example, think about if while you were growing up your parents were terrible with money. You grew up watching your parents make terrible money choices. They bought nice new cars that they really couldn’t afford. They went on expensive trips that were put on credit cards. They never contributed to a retirement because they were always trying to pay off bills from all of the stuff that they were always buying. OK, so you have this example of how money is done through watching your parents. You might think that your parents’ example with money is how things are supposed to be. Let’s say you’ve been living by the example that your parents set. The reason you’re living that way is because it’s what you know. It’s what you’ve seen demonstrated. The experience of watching how your parents’ handled money has shaped the way you think about money. Your thought process, when it comes to money, revolves around the idea that you just need enough money to pay your bills at the end of the month and the rest you get to blow. So, what happens? Well, that’s how you live life, being terrible with money because that’s all you know and all you’re thinking about when it comes to money. But guess what? You hear a guy on the radio one night talking about a different way to do money. He says have an emergency fund, pay off debt, save for retirement, and all of a sudden, this whole new world of how to do money enters your thoughts. You start to think of how you can save up for an emergency plan, how you can pay off your credit cards, how you can start saving for retirement. All these things start to happen in your life just because your way of thinking changed. You learned something new and the new thing changed your world by changing how you think about one single aspect of life.

Your thoughts are powerful things and I believe that they are even more powerful than we realize. In the book As A Man Thinketh, author James Allen goes on to say, “As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of his own thoughts, man holds the key to every situation, and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he wills.” This is saying that we can make ourselves in the person that we want to be. So, ask yourself, who do you want to be? Do you want to be someone who is generous? Do you want to be someone who is kind? Do you want to be someone who is hard working? You can have any kind of characteristic that you want, but first you have to think it and your thoughts will become your reality. If my thoughts dictate the circumstances in my life and they dictate the kind of person that I’ll be, then wouldn’t I want to think about the things that I want to do them most and the person that I want to be the most? The answer to that questions is an obvious yes! This is the reason that I think it’s so important to write down your goals in a place where you will see them often. This way, you can be intentional about thinking about your goals and the type of person that you want to be. I believe that thinking about these things regularly will help you to work towards them regularly and if you’re working towards them, then eventually, you’ll make your goals a reality.

How To Save 1 Million Dollars

If I was a rich guy handing out money and I asked a person if they wanted a million dollars, do you think they would say yes or no? My guess is that they would say yes. I mean, who doesn’t want a million dollars? Just think of everything that you could do with a million dollars. Or, consider this for a second, the average annual return on the S&P 500 since its inception has been more than 10%, so a 7% return shouldn’t be that unreasonable. This would mean if you had a million dollars and you were able to get a return of 7% per year, you would essentially be making $70,000 per year. And what is it that you would be doing to make $70,000? Nothing, except letting your money set in a mutual fund. In other words, your money would be working for you so you don’t have to work for money. Well, you might say “That would be great if I had a million dollars, but I don’t. So, what use is that information to me?” Well in this post, I’m going to share with you steps to save a million dollars. I’m going to tell you the things that you need to do in order to be a long-term wealth builder. By sharing these steps with you my hope is first that you realize that even though a million dollars is a lot of money, you can save a million dollars. My second hope is that you actually start saving. Most Americans these days are living paycheck to paycheck and have very little if anything saved.

So, you might be wondering to yourself “Who are you to give advice about saving a million dollars? Have you saved a million dollars?” And the answer to that question is no. I haven’t saved a million dollars, yet. But, I am using these steps to work towards my financial goals. And guess what, they’re working for me! So, that’s how I know they work, because I’m putting them into practice right now. I not only have experience with these steps to save but I have also seen others use these steps to save as well. As someone who works in the finance industry, I’ve had the opportunity to look deep into successful people’s finances. I’ve worked with numerous folks who had a net worth over a million dollars and I’ve been able to see how they’ve grown such a large chunk of wealth. And you know what, if I had to sum up how they did it, I would say they did it slow and steady. They did it by having a plan. None of these people accidentally found a million dollars in their bank account. They were intentional about saving and they were diligent over a long period of time about putting money away. Alright, lets look at the steps to save a million dollars.

Step one: The first thing that you need to do is to create a budget also known as a spending plan. There are lots of free budgets that you can download off the internet. Find one that works the best for you. If you’re an Excel nerd like me then you can just make your own which is what I’ve done. The biggest reason to create a budget is so you know where your money is going. A ton of people live paycheck to paycheck and I think this is because they don’t manage their money well. A budget helps us to manage our money so that we can be intentional about where our money is going. See, there’s that word intentional again. Hmmmm sounds like we’re on the right track. The second biggest reason to start living on a budget is to give yourself a pay raise. That’s right, you’re going to give yourself a raise by living on a budget. When people start living on a budget, they realized they’re spending money on things that they don’t really need. They are able to avoid spending money on these things in the future and this leaves the person with more money at the end of the month to do with whatever they please. So, in essence, it’s like giving yourself a pay raise. Now, the smart thing to do with the extra money at the end of the month is to add it to your investment contributions and not spend it on something that’s just going to do down in value.

Step two: Open a savings account if you don’t have one already. Once you have a savings account open, you’re going to set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account, assuming that your income is deposited into your checking account. Set up your automatic transfer to happen right after you get paid, so that you are paying yourself first. If you get paid weekly, then you will set up 4 automatic transfers per month, if you get paid on the 10th and 25th of the month, then you’ll have two automatic transfers per month. If your income changes on a regular basis then set up the auto pay for a conservative amount, an amount that you know will not cause you to be overdrawn. Then those times when you get larger paychecks, you’ll need to manually transfer money from your checking to your savings.

Once you’re living on a budget, you’re paying yourself first, and you have an auto transfer set up going to your savings account, you’ve reached a huge milestone. Be proud of yourself because most people don’t make it even this far. They don’t even make it past these two steps. Ok, on to the next step.

Step three: Once you have about $5,000 saved open up an investment account if you don’t have one already. If you’re wanting to open up an online account, you might consider investment companies such as Fidelity Investments, Vanguard, or Charles Schwab. These guys make it really easy to do you investing online. Now, if you want to be able to meet with someone face-to-face do a quick internet search for local financial advisers. Investment companies may have a minimum investment amount that you need to have before you can open up an account with them. For example, the online investment companies may require a minimum of $3000 to $4000 to open up an account, that’s why you need to save $5,000 in a savings account first. Some investment companies like Stash for example, don’t have the high minimums like other online investment companies do. However, companies like Stash can have a higher fee percentage then some of the other companies. So, do your research on the fees that investment companies charge and minimums that investment companies charge. Once you transfer your $5,000 to an investment company then choose your investment. I like balanced mutual funds that are made up of a wide range of stocks and bonds. Mutual funds that are diversified in my opinion are generally less risky than any one stock. Set up auto transfer to transfer money to your investment company. Keep your savings account as an emergency fund. In this emergency fund save up 3 to 6 months of expenses in your savings account, keep it there and only use if for emergencies.

Step four: Once you have your investment account set up, you have money in it, and your auto transfer is in place, it’s time to maximize your investment contributions. Take some time to really squeeze your budget. For example, look at what things can you do without. If you go out to dinner fairly often can you instead grab some inexpensive take out instead, like getting a teriyaki chicken bowl that you eat at home instead. Just by doing this you could save $50 bucks. If you have any debt, pay it off so that you can start making those payments to yourself instead. If you’re not making a car payment, you could be putting that money in your investments. Think about that, that could be a lot of money! In order to increase your contributions to investments you can also look at ways to increase your income. Is there a side hustle you can do to earn some extra cash? Can you help a family friend with something around their home as a handyman? Is there a part time job that you can pick up? Can you cash in your vacation time at work? What do you have laying around the house that you just don’t use anymore that you could sell? Focus on being diligent about putting money away towards your investments.

All-in-all it’s going to take some time for you to save up a million dollars but these steps will eventually get you there. By doing the right things and moving in the right direction, no matter how slow you’re going, you will eventually get there. And you know what, you will have setbacks but you have to do your best to get back on track. Make sure that you’re using auto transfer to contribute to your investments. This way you can set it and forget it. When you get little bonus here or there or come across extra money, make it a priority to stick that money in your investment accounts, or at least a majority of it. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. And if you want to reach a savings of one million dollars, going slow and steady will eventually get there.

Why You’ll Never Meet a Successful Pessimist

I realized recently that I have never met someone who was both successful and a pessimist. All of the successful people I have met are largely an optimist and I have come to the conclusion on why this is so. At first, this finding wasn’t that intriguing to me. It almost seemed obvious and irrelevant when my brain came this discovery. However, once I did some self-reflecting I realized that this is incredibly important to me and it should be to you too. I want to be someone who achieves success in many different areas of my life and I’m sure that you are too. So, I think it’s important that we live free of unnecessary pessimism and this is why:

  1. Pessimists see problems but not opportunities. I often hear pessimists complain about problems and very seldom do they discuss solutions. When we encounter a problem we should view it as an opportunity. Actually, problems present several opportunities. By taking on a problem you are opening yourself up for learning. After you figure out the problem you might have learned something that will help you in a future endeavor. This knowledge could eventually help get you a promotion at work, help you land that next client, and could benefit you in an unexpected way. Solving problems could help you to gain very valuable skills. Being a problem solver is someone who is an optimist and someone who can see the opportunities within problems. Opportunists are the types of people that we want on our team.
  2. Pessimists have a negative attitude. Let me start this off with: a negative attitude gets you nowhere! If you know me then you know how important I think it is to have a great attitude. I grew up with a dad that instilled in me how important this is. He is one of the hardest working people I know and he has always had that positive “can-do” attitude. Being around someone who has a negative attitude is terrible for you and your team. A negative attitude communicates a lack of confidence, a lack of enthusiasm, and a lack of willpower and you don’t want any part of these characteristics for you or your team. If you have someone with a negative attitude on your team, you need to do something about it, RIGHT NOW! I’ve seen companies seriously damaged by a single person with a negative attitude. The worst part about a negative attitude is that it’s infectious and if it isn’t dealt with immediately it will destroy morale, confidence, and your desire to win. If you’re the one with the negative attitude you need to make a commitment to yourself that you’re going to change!
  3. Pessimists make poor leaders. I’ve seen leaders whose pessimism came in the form of complaining. It seemed like they complained about everything. The complaining brought down the whole team and severely dampened the team’s overall performance. If you’re a leader that complains I can assure you it’s keeping your team from reaching their top performance. And if your team is performing poorly, I highly doubt that you’re going to be up for any promotions anytime soon. Leaders need to have a positive outlook and I’m not saying the outlook needs to be unrealistic or fake. A leader can be “real” and be positive even in the presence of challenging situations. When times get tough leaders look for the silver lining and focus their team’s attention on that.

I urge you my friends, be intentional about being an optimist and your goals will be ever closer. Stay away from pessimists because their pessimism can sneak into your life like a sickness. By being a pessimist, you’ll be blind to opportunity, have a negative attitude, and will bring down those around you. Be someone who lifts others up and give others hope by being an optimist. If you do this, you’ll see more production from your team, you’ll see more success in your life, and you’ll be the leader that people want to work with.

It’s time to do some self reflection: Ask yourself these questions:

Are you seeing just problems or are you seeing opportunities for solutions?

Are you being intentional about having a good attitude when challenges come up?

Are you sharing optimism with those around you so that they can benefit from an optimistic attitude?

Are you complaining too much in front of others you work with or your family?

The Art of Intentional Leadership with Dary Reed

In this episode I would like to welcome back Dary Reed. Dary is going to talk to us about intentional leadership and what it means. Dary is the Founder of Assets LLC. He is an expert in leadership and a Personal Effectiveness Coach. If you’re interested in learning more about Dary and the services that he provides, his website is assetsllc.org. Dary is also offering a workshop in Yakima, Washington called The Art of Intentional Leadership November 13th from 9am to 4pm at the Holiday Inn. If you’re interested in this event or other services that Dary offers, you can get his contact information from his website, assetsllc.org.

Here are just a couple of my favorite quotes from Dary in this episode.

“Intentional leadership is a series of skills sets that you practice, practice, practice, and that you implement every single day.”

“To know is not enough. Knowledge is not power. We say that all the time… The application of knowledge is power.”

Using Small Actions Every Day to Win Big In Life with Jose Gonzalez

In this episode I had the pleasure of talking with my friend Jose Gonzalez about the book The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson. In our conversation we discuss what the slight edge is and how you can use it to reach your goals. This is one of the most motivating books I’ve ever read. I’m so thankful that Jose shared this book with me. If you get a chance, I highly recommend reading this book. I know that it will inspire you just like it did for me.

Here are a few topics that we discuss:
1. What the slight edge is.
2. How it can reshape your life.
3. Why it’s important to make the slight edge a habit.
4. How attitude plays into the slight edge and to your overall success in life.
5. 3 steps to reach your dreams.

7 Positive, Productive Habits from Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge

What are some habits that you can adopt right now that will help you to achieve your goals in your life? This is what I’m going to be answering in this episode. I was recently reading the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and came across 7 habits that Jeff says will “bear you up under any circumstance and support you on the path to your dreams.” I really liked these habits and I want to be intentional about incorporating these habits into my life. I think these habits are incredibly important to anyone who wants is striving to achieve their goals.

1. Show Up
The first habit is to show up. What this means is that you show up and take that first step. Nothing is going to get done if you never start it. This concept reminds of Wayne Gretzky’s quote “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” In Jeff’s book he states that “By simply showing up you can rise above half of the population in any circumstance.” What he means by this is most people don’t even try. Most people just watch life pass them by on the sidelines. If you want to be someone of action, you need to get off the bench and into the game. And in order to do that you need to show up, be present, and take that first step towards the direction you want to head.

2. Be Consistent
The second habit is to be consistent. It doesn’t just end with showing up. You have to show up every day. You can’t show up just one time and expect that all of your goals are going to be accomplished with just one try. You have to keep showing up, keep pushing on, keep taking that step forward, even when it’s hard, even when the odds are against you, and even when it’s easy not to. In The Slight Edge, Jeff says “As essential as it is to show up, it is consistency that greatly multiplies its power. Showing up consistently is where the magic happens.” Of the few people in life that are actually willing to show up and start something, there are even fewer people that are willing to consistently pursue their goals until they accomplish them. Sometimes in life you get curve balls thrown at you and things change. That doesn’t mean that you have to change your goals, it just means that you have to change your plan for reaching your goals. Jeff goes on to say “If you will commit to showing up consistently, every day, no matter what, then you have already won well more than half the battle. The rest is up to skill, knowledge, drive, and execution.” So, show up and be consistent.

3. Have a Positive Outlook
The third habit is to have a positive outlook. If you want to reach your goals it’s incredibly important to have a positive outlook. Jeff says “approaching the events of everyday life with a consistently positive outlook moves you towards your goals.” Think about this for a second, imagine if you always had a negative outlook. Maybe you would say to yourself, “That’s not going to work, it never works out.” Do you really think anyone with this kind of attitude ever gets anywhere? I highly doubt it. Why? Because who wants to try something if they think they are just going to fail? Seeing yourself as failing all the time is a negative outlook. If you want to win, you have to have a winning outlook, a positive outlook. Sure, there’s going to be many times in life where things are difficult. We all face hard situations in life. If you’re not facing hard situation then you’re not really pushing yourself. When you’re encountering something difficult, try to look at the bright side. Train yourself to find the good in every situation, even if it’s a bad situation. What this will do is help you see the opportunities that will help drive you to success, even when the situation looks bad from the outside.

4. Be Committed For The Long Haul
The fourth habit is to be committed for the long haul. Jeff starts out talking about this habit by saying. “Showing up is essential. Showing up consistently is powerful. Showing up consistently with a positive outlook is even more powerful. But doing all that for a week, is just doing it for a week.” What he means by this is, if you want to get good at something, it takes time. That’s the bottom line. If you want to be good at your job, then it’s going to take you time in order to get good. If you want to get your body into shape, then it’s going to take time. If you want to train yourself to run a marathon, it’s going to take time. This reminds me of the old adage, “Good things happen to those who wait.” While you’re waiting you need to be working for it. So, let’s change the ol’ saying to “Good things happen to those who are committed for the long haul.” And it’s true. People eventually achieve what they set out to achieve if they work at it long enough.

5. Cultivate a Burning Desire Backed by Faith
The fifth habit is to cultivate a burning desire backed by faith. When pursuing goals you have to have something motivating you. That something creates a desire in to you pursue whatever it is that you want. Sometimes desires come and go but a burning desire is something much more intense. Jeff says that “That’s the kind of desire that gets you up early and keeps you up late. It’s what keeps you motivated to press forward when adversity hits. A desire like that can move mountains and alter the course of rivers.” If you’re serious about accomplishing something you need to have not just a desire, but a burning desire. When I’ve experience a burning desire to do something, there wasn’t much that would be able to slow me down. I was ready to stand up against anything that got in my way. The key to harnessing the burning desire is having a clear vision of what you want. Now, if you really want to succeed have a burning desire backed by faith. Jeff explains the faith aspect as “A burning desire backed by faith simply means deeply, passionately wanting to get somewhere and knowing -not hoping, not wishing, but knowing that you’re going to get there. In other words, there has to be congruence between your desire and your faith.” So, figure out what you want, set a goal to get there, create a plan to achieve it, believe in your heart that you’re going to achieve it, and light that desire up!

6. Be Willing to Pay The Price
The sixth habit is being willing to pay the price. We all know in the back of our minds that nothing is free and there is a cost of achieving your goals. There is always a cost, a cost for anything. When you make a decision, no matter what that decision is, there is a cost. Sometimes the cost is simply not doing the other thing that you could have done. There is also a cost for not doing something. For example, there is a cost for not eating healthy. The price you pay is feeling like garbage. Your body pays the price of poor eating habits by not functioning as good as it could with good eating habits. Sometimes in order to do big things you have to make big sacrifices. You might have to give up some of the most valuable things to you like time with friends or family. You might have to decide to get up early and work on your project in stead of staying up the night before watching movies. If you know that whatever you do is going to cost you something don’t you want to get the most out of what you pay? If you’re going to be spending 40 hours a week at a job, why not make it worth your while and do the best that you can? Why not spend that 40 hours accomplishing the most that you can and help you to be as successful as possible? In The Slight Edge Jeff make a good point, “Remember, there aren’t many millionaires who bowl over 100. Why not? Because they left the bowling league behind to build their fortunes.” What do you need to give up in your life right now to help you reach your goals? The junk food? The time sitting in front of the TV? The negative people in your life? The bigger the sacrifices you’re willing to make, the higher you can climb.

7. Practice Slight Edge Integrity
The final habit is to practice slight edge integrity. What does this mean? I’ll tell you! Jeff explains slight edge integrity being, “What you do when no one is watching”. In other words, are you working on your goals when no one else knows that you’re working on your goals? Are you going for that run like you had planned on doing? Are you being intentional about reading a good personal development book on a regular bases? Are you eating the types of foods that you planned on eating? More than likely no one else really knows if you’re sticking to your plan to reach your goals except you. Are you holding yourself accountable to working your plan? That’s what the slight edge integrity is. It’s about being intentional about doing those small things that are easy to do but also easy not to do every day that will help you take one more step towards vision.

The bottom line is we’re all capable of accomplishing great things. Creating good habits in your life will help you accomplish your goals! Jeff summarizes the habits this way, he says, “Show up. Show up consistently. Show up consistently with a positive outlook. Be prepared for and committed to the long haul. Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith. Be willing to pay the price. And do the things you’ve committed to doing – even when no one else is watching”

Bodybuilding with Joe and Nina Evans

In this episode, I get opportunity to talk to Joe and Nina Evans about bodybuilding and the recipes to achieve success in life. Joe and Nina are a husband and wife couple who, in my opinion, are winning in life and they demonstrate this by achieving very big goals. My first conversation is with Joe who is a former wrestling champion. Joe talks to us about his experience with preparing to compete in bodybuilding and how that compares to what it took to be a wrestling champion. He shares some really helpful strategies for reaching success in any area of life. After talking with Joe we jump right into my conversation with Nina. She shares her experience with competing in Bikini competitions and also shares some really great insight to what it takes to choose to reach your goals.

Here are just a couple of the many great lines that came out of this episode.
“If an individual want’s it bad enough, they’ll find a way to do it.” – Joe Evans
“Nothing is a have to, it’s a choose to. What do you choose to do for you?” – Nina Evans