All the Financial Planners tell you to have at least 6-12 months of liquid emergency money stashed aside to take care of life’s little moments that sneak up on you such as car repairs or the furnace giving up its last breath during a polar vortex. In addition to that advice; I’d like to offer up another form of stash called the Fun Fund to use any way you wish as long as it’s fun. In the Millionaire Mindset book and in his workshops; T. Harv Eker suggests 10% of your income should be stashed away to use any way you wish so you feel like you have control over your money and you’re using it to enjoy your life.
Enter the Fun Fund. After my BFF and I returned from one of the millionaire bootcamps over a decade ago; we took that advice and have been stashing away a percentage of earnings into our Fun Funds ever since so that we have a pot of money with no particular plan, but the plan is to use it when the mood or a great adventure strikes. With our financial foundation in check and our Fun Fund fully stocked; we are ready to pounce when something so juicy comes along that we just can’t resist.
I’ve learned from my guides and coaches throughout the years and from my personal experience that I need to fully trust my intuition and just flow with it. As a very old soul who has been around many lifetimes; I’m told that my intuition has a very clear path showing me my path; so I usually go with it when I feel the strong urge. My BFF is the same way and when both of us have the gut feeling; we are helpless to defend against it. We just have to go with it and that’s how our latest adventure came about one low-key, loungey kind of Saturday.
I was in the middle of trying out a new lunch recipe when I got the call with Barb on the other end saying “Now don’t say no right away, just hear me out. I have an idea for a cruise into Canada during peak leaf peeping season. I know you will have just returned from your trip to Cuba, but this is a great deal.” As she was explaining the trip complete with sailing on a vintage four-masted schooner and high tea at the Chateau Fontenac in Quebec City – one of my to-do lists for 20 years; I knew I was a gonner.
Two days later I get a text from Barb in the middle of doing a seminar which said we have to “Do the Dragon”. What the hell did that mean. She texted “google it”. I did and I’m in. So in a matter of a few days, we have a few vacations already planned, booked and paid for. Something I never imagined the week prior. It seems that the Dragon’s Tail is one of the most notorious roads in America with 318 curves in 11 miles of mountain road and there was going to be a car rally with all kinds of festivities focused on the “Doing the Dragon”. With my father being a former race car driver, he also raced boats and motorcycle side cars. It’s in my blood. I love cars, boats and planes. Once again I was sucked into the thrill of the adventure and the unknown. Toss in an amazing log cabin with phenomenal mountain views and I can’t say no.
When it comes to people waiving great travel deals and amazing adventures in front of my face, I’m very weak. I cannot say no to such temptation. Try as I might to be prudent and rational; I just lose my mind thinking that an opportunity of a lifetime may pass me by and I might miss out on some life-altering experience, discovery, and good times. I’m a sucker for a good adventure with good friends. I caved.
Luckily, we both plan for such spontaneous times by continually adding to our Fun Funds. By planning for something we don’t know about in our futures, we can take advantage of an opportunity when it does come our way and be ready to pounce. Of course, we also sock away and invest much more into our Retirement Fund than our Fun Fund; but having a fund for frivolity feels good and brings out the kid in us after our adult has already set aside something for our retirement, our emergencies, our heirs, and other adult stuff.
What can you set aside for yourself, just yourself to do whatever you want that is meaningful and memorable to you. Vacations don’t just last a week or two, or three or whatever. They last a lifetime in our memory and our beings. It fulfills us and refuels us to keep going at a higher vibrational level than before we left. How can you better plan for spontaneity so that you can strike when the opportunity presents itself? What can you stash away and invest each month or week? What can you cut out of your life in order to have something more meaningful? What are you frittering away on a daily or weekly basis that could go into your Fun Fund for something more fabulous? I’ll be sure to report on our fabulous Canadian adventure later this fall and how we fared on the Dragon later in the Spring upon our return from our adventures.
Life balance is vitally important to your happiness, success, and health. There is considerable evidence showing that mishandled stress at home interferes with work performance, and mismanaged on-the-job pressures create or magnify problems at home. Other research shows that the quality of personal relationships strongly influences job productivity, disease resistance, and longevity. Evaluating your various roles in areas of your life and attaching a level of priority to each is another important step toward making more intelligent decisions on where to put your time and energy.
Providing time for Leisure Moments in our lives, helps increase our resilience to stress, helps improve self-confidence and self-esteem, our physical fitness, and mental alertness. Often, when we take time out to re-create, refresh, and renew, we feel more in control of our lives which helps lower stress levels. When was the last time you went out and played to recharge your batteries?
Humor and laughter can build a healthy heart. Cardiologists at the University of Maryland studied 300 participants, half with healthy hearts and half with heart disease. Those with heart disease were 40% less likely to see humor in situations based on a survey and were more hostile and angry than those with healthy hearts. You can test your healthy sense of humor with their survey at http://www.umm.edu/news/humor.html . Another study of 240 heart-attach survivors found those who laughed at comedy videos every day were less likely to suffer a second heart attack during the course of a year. Based on an article by Allen Klein, the Jollytologist, in the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor Newsletter.
Many workers believe that the supportiveness of their boss is an important factor in determining their attitude or outlook at work. Nearly 61% rated this factor as extremely important, while 26% rated the supportiveness of their boss as somewhat important. When choosing a workplace, 87% sought out a place that is understanding of their personal and family needs. Only 4% actually sought out employers who are strict about attending to family needs, while 9% found employers who appear to be unaware of family needs as reported to Careerbuilder.com. Being content at work is a big part of having a balanced life. Take stock of where you work and with whom you work and if it’s not working for you, find something that will.
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In making out your life plan as with planning a trip – know first where you are going, plot the best route to get there, then figure out what you will need along the way to make your journey successful. Take the time to figure out how you will know when you have “arrived” at your goal and celebrate your achievement. Avoid the syndrome of always striving and never arriving. Take time to bask in your arrival.
Think of how your energy rises as your draw nearer to a trip. Just imagine what will happen if you have your whole life to look forward to. When we set milestones for ourselves, we are much more likely to meet and surpass them than if we never had any point of focus. When you know your destination, you arrive sooner and are less distracted by obstacles and detours. If you do come across a detour, when you know where you want to end up, it’s much easier to stay on track and get back to your pathway to the end state.
It’s less stressful when we have our directions to safely guide us. Try scheduling something enjoyable on weekends to raise your energy for the week and plan something equally as fun on Mondays to start your week out on an upbeat note. Start making your plan now for how you want to live in the next year, five years, 10 years, and into retirement. What do you have to do now to ensure your end you have in mind is the end that you’re aiming for by your actions today?
By making a life plan and being open to changing our route, we gain clarity and personal energy in our abilities to help shape our future and bounce back when life sends us on an unplanned pathway.
Be in the small percentage who has written goals as their road map. Buck the percentages and be one of the elite few who write down their long-term and short-term goals, and review them regularly. List-makers know the thrill of crossing items off their lists.
Written goals keep you focused and remind you of the big picture. FOCUS = Follow One Course Until Successful. Maintain bursts of energy while working on different goals by savoring the rewards and feeling successful while mixing long and short-term goals. When you prioritize your goals, remember people first, then things. . . people first, then things.
Have you ever known somebody who could just light up a room . . . when they left? Sometimes known as energy vampires, delete the people from your life who are overly judgmental about you, are not supportive, take more than they give, or who don’t believe in you. They will suck energy right out of you.
There are two types of clutter, internal clutter and external clutter. External clutter is anything around you that “bugs” you such as dusting, people who take more than they give, dirty laundry, unread newspapers and catalogs piling up, the tacky souvenir your neighbor brought you, or other stuff laying around that is visual pollution. This type of clutter distracts you and drains you by taking up your space. Especially draining is clutter left on the floor dragging you down with negative energy.
Internal clutter is such things as dishonesty, secrecy, deceit, debt, unfulfilled promises, worry, anxiety, fear, miscommunication, obligations, or any other “messalanea” which is clogging up your circuits to think freely and be charged up. Delete this emotional, intellectual, or physical baggage and watch your energy soar. There are umpteen books on Feng Shui and the art of de-cluttering and aligning your space to make the energy flow more freely. Check out the perpetual calendar in the back of the book Organized at Last: a Tip a Day to Keep Clutter at Bay by Pat Moore, The Queen of Clutter. Also see Appendix B for other things that drain our energy. Until you plug up some of those energy drains and delete them from your life, no amount of refilling and refueling will have any staying power. Take a good look at your internal and external clutter and delete those energy suckers in order to have a lasting affect on your personal energy and your stress levels.
Unload your excess baggage. Unburden your heart, your mind, and your space by unloading extra emotional and physical baggage you may have been carrying around. Take stock of philosophies, beliefs, behaviors, and the stuff that may have served you in the past that doesn’t make sense today. Take a look at the reasons why you do what you do – can it be streamlined? Review the reasons why you prefer a way of thinking or behave in a certain manner. Is it just a habit (perhaps a bad habit?) or a learned behavior taught by somebody whose behavior may or may not fit your personality or your lifestyle?
Letting go of material items or self perceptions that no longer fit you or benefit you allows for a fresh start and can also lighten the stress load. Be prepared that a change in patterns may cause some uncertainty and stress at first. Sometimes the excitement and enthusiasm for creating a better way and a lighter life outweighs the stress that may accompany the change. Moving through the change at a pace that you are comfortable with and at a pace where you can assimilate it easily into your life will help ease the stress of the change and newfound energy will be a benefit to your life.
Simplify your life and toss out stuff associated with bad memories or junk. Better yet, don’t buy it in the first place and you will save your money/life energy and help the cause against unfettered consumerism and overuse of our natural resources. The same goes for junk food, over-packaging, and junk mail.
Contact the direct mail and telemarketing firms to have your name taken off their lists. For pre-approved credit card offers, call 888.5.OPTOUT to cancel solicitation from all three credit reporting bureaus for two years or permanently. For direct marketing solicitations, including catalogs, coupons, and sweepstakes offers, sign up for The Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service at www.the-dma.org for $5 or for no charge if you send your request to Mail Preference Service, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.
Put yourself on the national Do Not Call Register to avoid those pesky telemarketers by calling 888.382.1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov. The cost of saving junk is skyrocketing and takes its toll on your emotions and your wallet. Save your sanity and your spare time from their clutches. How much excess is in your life? What have your purged lately?
We’ve been sold a bill of goods for what we believe will bring happiness. Most of these false assumptions center around consumerism and buying your way to supposed happiness through wealth. One of the leading scientists in the study of happiness, Dr. Ed Diener, interviewed 49 of the wealthiest people in America and found that their happiness levels were only slightly above average. Similar findings have been uncovered in happiness and wealth correlation studies of nations. Among the more economically advanced nations, America ranks sixth out of seven with Switzerland, Denmark and Canada ranking first, second, and third. Of course as you would expect, the least wealthy countries were also the least happy. There is a moderate ground to seek – enough wealth to take us out of direct need but not so much as it leads to distraction. It what Vicki and Joe Dominguez termed “the Point of Enoughness in their 1990’s book.
Another study by a preeminent happiness researcher, Dr. David Myers showed the percentage of people in America from 1956 to 2000 pretty much flat-lined as their disposable income skyrocketed up since around 1960. What these studies indicate is that money not only can’t buy you love, but it can’t buy happiness past a certain point of enoughness. Of course all the advertisers and manufacturers out there try to convince us that if we buy their product, then we’ll be happier. It’s simply not true, yet we buy into it every time we make a purchase of something not out of necessity. We are all living proof of the grand conspiracy if we have closets, drawers, and garages stockpiled with things we can live without. I can’t even count the number of people I saw this holiday season walking around carrying flat-screen TV boxes. It was really quite a sobering sight.
Here are six tools offered to you according to the book What Happy People Know to help dig out of the consumerism daze and lead you on the true path to satisfying happiness:
- Appreciation is the most fundamental happiness tool as it is the purest, strongest form of love. Research has shown that it is physiologically impossible to be in a state of appreciation and gratitude and fear at the same time. Love and gratitude are stronger than fear because they are products of the neocortex and not the lower brain. Something I’ve posted about in the past and will share again is the simple reply one of my spiritual leaders suggested in response to the ubiquitous greeting, “how are you?”, is to answer “Grateful, thank you. And you?” If you stop and think about how many times a day you are asked the question “How are you?”, you can only imagine how often you will disperse to the universe that you are grateful. It is a great way to remind yourself to remain in a state of appreciation.
- Choice, the book says, is the father of freedom and the voice of the heart. When we have no sense of choice, we feel deprived, defeated, and in despair which leads to depression, anxiety and a condition called learned helplessness. We have choices and most of the happy people have consciously chosen their path, while unhappy people tend to choose fear and give in to that automatic sense of fleeing or freezing. Use your intellect and spiritual senses and make wise choices. It reminds me of what Anthony Robbins teaches; you don’t have a money problem, you have a lack of ideas problem. You have choices.
- Personal Power is similar to character that gives you control over your feelings, your actions, your thoughts, your behavior and your fate. Take 100% responsibility for your actions and I do mean 100% responsibility to avoid victim status of what happens for you, not to you. When you have a good sense of personal power, you’re secure with who you are and what you have and are immune to what others say, think or do to you.
- Leading with your strengths and being bigger than your challenges and situations without giving in to fear. Taking a truthful assessment of your strengths and leading with them feels good and allows us to conquer everyday challenges and builds self-confidence. Success leads to bigger success and it continues to spiral up and out.
- The power of language and stories to create our world is a heady stuff. We don’t describe the world we see, we see the world we describe. How do you describe your life? What is your life story? What old stories are you hanging onto that you’ve outgrown? Language has the power to alter perception. What kind of language do you use? Are you saying you have to, want to, or get to do something? What message is that sending to your sub-conscious and to your body? The stories of our lives and the stories we tell ourselves become our lives – how do you see your life? What spin are you putting on the experiences in your life and the actions you take? We have the power of choice to tell healthy stories or horror stories.
- Multidimensional living which embraces three main components of relationships, health, and purpose, which is usually our work. Make sure you are putting energy into all three areas. Usually if we are unhappy, we discover we’ve put too much energy into one area or not enough in the other areas and our lives get lopsided. Because of our fear of scarcity and not feeling that we have enough, let alone not be enough, most Americans focus more on their work. I say work instead of purpose because in my work experience, most people have no clue as to their personal purpose. We can help you discover that very easily if you’re interested – it’s in your personal GPS system, Genetic Purpose System in your fingertips. We’re all born with our purpose and it was formed in utero for us. We just need to decipher what it is, but I digress….. Many research studies have concluded that we simply have this scarcity fear burned into our brains. Face the facts of the studies that no matter how much you have, you won’t feel that it is enough and then decide to be happy no matter what.
Just accept that we generally won’t feel we have enough and stop waiting to accumulate enough, whatever enough is for you, and make a decision to be happy with what you have. Enjoy the now and practice the six tools to happiness and the other guides to happiness over the past year and have fun re-creating happiness in your life. Happy New Year – may you be more happy this year than last and even happier next year as you practice the steps.
The research suggests that 70% of our self talk is negative. Practice turning these thoughts into positives to improve your outlook, your future, and your well being. A client gave me a file folder from Successories, www.successories.com which states the Essence of Your Destiny: “Watch your thoughts for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Your body doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined things. It only knows what your brain tells it, so make sure your brain is telling your body positive things. A positive state of mind has been known to cure diseases, prevent sickness, or prevent a worse condition as evidenced by the research by Norman Cousins in The Anatomy of an Illness.
You can wake up and decide to have a happy day or a deliriously happy day . . .or not. Choose your vocabulary and self-talk wisely. The use of certain words can trigger physiological responses that can cause high blood pressure, stress, and other negative reactions. The power of positive thinking guides your behavior, which in turn guides your future. When you change your mind, you change your energy, and when you change your energy, you change your life. We can also change the energy of the people around us as our energy is contagious and we are part of other people’s environments just as they are a part of ours.
Be aware of the company you keep and how their thoughts and behaviors are affecting your energy. These positive thoughts also refer to the music you listen to, the books you read, or the movies and TV programs you watch. Be aware of the negative or positive messages your body is receiving from internal or external sources and be thoughtful of what you choose.
Your attitude, whether positive or negative is everything. It’s how you view the world and how you react to the world. It also affects how the world reacts to you. Your choice of attitude can bring you up, up, up, or down, down, down. Attitude is what draws people towards you or repels them against you.
Do you think anybody wants to hang around a crabby person? Have you ever paid attention to the negative energy of a worrier or somebody who is always sick or thinks they are sick or about to be sick? You can feel the negative energy emanating from their very being.
No matter what the situation, we always have a choice about our attitude. Positive attitude and enthusiasm are the secret weapons of successful people. Make a conscious effort to choose happiness and a positive attitude, and watch the positive repercussions stem from a resourceful state of mind. Your attitude really is contagious and we have a choice as to whether we want to infect people with our bad attitude or affect people with our good attitude. It not only changes our energy, but the energy of those around us. Remember, when we change our mind, we change our energy, and when we change our energy, we change our life.
What are you doing to make the right choice of attitude? If you notice that your partner, your family, or all the front-line service people you encounter are being especially cranky to you on a particular day, take notice of how your attitude might be rubbing off on them. We generally mirror back the same energy that is projected towards us. Matching energy is one of those things we do subconsciously and once we are aware of it, we can make it work to our advantage.
All behaviors (except autonomic responses) begin as thoughts. Make yours positive.
How about sending positive messages around the world in the form of greeting cards and gifts. Your words of appreciation can provide you with a way to make a living through giving. Take the Gratitude Challenge by sending 30 cards in 30 days to those who need to hear kind words from you – try it out at www.SOCGratitude.com/9431 with the Send Out Cards system.
There are lots of things to think about before you decide to jump into the deep waters of business ownership. It can be extremely fulfilling or excruciatingly frustrating depending on how you prepare for it, how you embrace it, how your personal style fits the ambiguity of it, and how well it fits into your life purpose, your calling of how you express your gifts and talents to the world. If the only reason you’re going into business is to make a profit, then stop right now and rethink your reasoning.
Corporate Structure: I was recently reading about the Deloitte Millennial survey of the cohort born between 1980 and 2000 and how 70% of them want to someday be working independently. What a change from the generations before them. They also want their businesses to be more socially conscious and give back to the community. Their civic mindedness has birthed a new business entity called Low Profit LLC which is a combination of the For Profit LLC and the Non-Profit. This new business entity makes some profit to remain solvent, but gives much of it back to the world for just causes and social activism. How cool is that? What type of corporate structure is best for your needs? Do you want to work from home, from anywhere, from a different location than where you live? Do you want employees or joint venture partners or contractors? Do you want simple or more complex? What type of corporate structure with their tax advantages would best suit your needs? Which brings us to the next of several of our High C’s of starting a business.
Clarity about your Calling and Conscious Choices: This is a “three-fer” combing your Calling and your Clarity around how you will consciously build your business at the intersection of your Calling and what the Community needs. Know WHY you’re going into business – find your Why that makes you cry and you can find your way. What are your personal and professional goals for the business and your life because your business IS your life when you own your own company. It becomes part of you – so make sure you like that part of you. Narrow your focus on what you do best and what is in alignment with your calling. Make a conscious choice about what type of business and how you can best use your talents in service to others. This is about using your God-given gifts for the benefit of humanity, not about making a buck. If it’s about merely making a buck, the bucks come and the bucks go just as easily. When you’re on purpose with your business, it tends to stick around much longer. What are your consciously creating? Be very, very clear on what order you want to put forth to the Universe and get specific on what you want to serve, how you want to serve and who you want to serve and WHY.
Community: This one is multi-faceted. Community as in where you decide to put down your roots geographically. Community as in what type of professional communities do you associate with and in what type of community do you want to become an expert? Also what type of community do you want to serve? Do you want to serve millionaires or those who are living in poverty? Do you want to work in the children’s or adult community? Do you want to work virtually, globally or locally? Decide who and how you want to serve.
Cushion: Having a financial cushion of at least one year of living expenses in the bank (not a line of credit on credit cards, not a home equity line of credit – we know what happened to those in 2008, and not money tied up in other non-liquid accounts). Having the peace of mind to make choices based on ethical decisions, sound logic and decisions based on positive energy and the path forward in alignment with your vision versus fear that the money will run out is the choice you want to make.
Create Connections: Join business networking groups, the chamber of commerce, do trade shows, and connect with people outside your normal circle to expand your network and your net worth. Stay in touch and be the one to connect others together. Be the resource for connecting at all levels and you will find others seeking you out for your contact list. As the Author and Envelope Entrepreneur Harvey MacKay writes: “dig your well before you’re thirsty”. Stay connected and create connections for the benefit of all and it will serve you well. I’ve found an amazing way to stay connected on a personal as well as a professional level while expressing my creativity in creating custom greeting cards and gifts. It also just happens to be an additional profit center as I send out positive vibes – getting paid to be nice to people. Now that’s what I call a win-win-win. Check it out and send some cards on me at www.BizBuilderCards.com. I’ll pay for the first few cards and postage to anywhere in the world. I’m hooked on creating kindness and gratitude to expand the positive vibrations in the world. Try it for yourself and see how you feel. I’ve also found a community of card senders and have enjoyed sharing stories with them on the impact of sending a little piece of cardboard with heartfelt thoughts.
Just like diamonds have their C’s for clarity, cut, carrots etc – I hope you consider the High C’s before starting or growing your business. Maybe you need to regroup a bit or started off on the wrong foot. There is always tomorrow to get it right and consider your High C’s before taking another step in the right direction. Growing your business on the High C’s will get you started in a positive way. All the best to you sailing the High C’s!