Find Inspiration Where You Can

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Life sometimes flows like a slow-moving lazy stream, more often than not, it can flow like a white-water-capped, whooshing, liquid herd o’ horses stampeding. We can’t control some things. Some things hit us blindsided. Some things build up till they reach a breaking point and make our lives crazy. Some things no one deserves.

But other things we can control. Such as how often we look up and appreciate a sunset or how often we awake early to catch the sunrise and greet the day. We CAN control staying in the present moment and making the best of “that” moment in time. We CAN control what we think about and we CAN be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

We CAN control our “hope meter” – a phrase I coined to describe our ratio of hope to cynicism to despair. Keeping our “hope meter” high makes room for the things we are hoping for in our lives and in the lives of others. Without it, we close ourselves off from the awareness we need to allow change to come into our lives.

Appreciate the little things – flowers blooming, a child’s smile in the checkout line at the grocery, having healthy food to eat, having choices, freedom from oppression, waking up in the morning and having one more day to make a difference in a few people’s lives.

Express love.

 

 

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Women & Money – Top 10 Googled Money Questions

According to Money Guru,  this article reports the Top 10 Googled #Money Questions. And for women, these questions are VERY, VERY important. Women, oftentimes, #invest their energy and time into people, namely families, both their own as well as extended, children’s sports clubs, school activities, church activities and committees,  all worthwhile activities, yet inhibiting their ability to earn income and save for their future security. Because of this, many #women find themselves in their 50s and 60s without options to move to a new location or purchase a newer automobile or even to afford medical or dental care. Some find that between living costs and paying for medical insurance premiums, co-pays and visits or medications that aren’t covered, there just isn’t anything left to save.

We MUST find a way. Our grandparents and great-grandparents re-used things and grew some of their own food, and lived simply in order to put money away. It was a way of life. We can too. I remember my grandmother telling me how they used to re-use the aluminum foil. If it was only slightly used, it would be wiped off, and then you would take the flat of your fingernails and iron out the foil, flattening any creases. Then it would be placed in a drawer for future use.  Now I’m not suggesting that we recycle our aluminum foil necessarily. But we CAN have a frugal mindset and strive to live below our means in order to save and begin to make our money work for us instead of having to work for our money.

Educating ourselves about money management and investing is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. The #savings #habit is the key to growing wealth. Start now. Once you have $1000, find a good investment vehicle that will give you the highest return for the lowest or no risk. Rinse and repeat. And don’t be afraid to engage the services of an investment professional whose credentials require him to be a fiduciary, one who puts your interests first, like a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA).Young woman with her dreams

 

 

 

 

Are You Guilty? – 3 Irrational Ways Smart Women Sabotage Themselves

I tend to be pretty reliable keeping my commitments to others. In fact, I have been known to go above and beyond the ‘call of duty’ to be loyal to my word and not leave someone hanging. Key point to pick up on here, my dear reader,  is ‘when it’s for someone else.’ When it’s for myself, I tend to reneg on my decisions more regularly than I’d like to admit.  I am pleased to say I have improved at this over the years, so it happens less often these days, but the tendency is still there, lurking.

Which of these three things do you do in YOUR life? I hope this helps you realize that you’re not alone and that there is reason for optimism in changing these habit patterns.

The three sabotage strategies women tend to struggle with are:

  1. Committing to Everyone but Ourselves
  2. Over-scheduling
  3. Chronically Undervaluing Ourselves

Let’s look at each of these one by one.

1) Committing to Everyone but Ourselves

vintage-1950s-woman-serving-dinner-8211279

Why does our loyalty extend to everyone else in our lives, but if I decide I need or want to do something, I’ll easily cancel out if I’m too tired or get distracted by other ‘things’ that come up. Why do I sometimes avoid doing tasks I need to do?

Here’s a new affirmation to focus on:

I am committed to myself.

Be committed to self. We are just as important as everyone else, no more,  no less. Yet we will treat ourselves as less. It’s important to be my own best friend. Do the things I know I need to do for me. Treat myself with a reasonable level of importance. It’s okay to spend time on me. It’s okay to nurture myself. I don’t have to be giving to others all the time.

Spending all my energy on others just leaves me shortchanging myself, not             being as effective as I could be in the world, which leads to discontent   and creates a non-productive downward cycle. I need to reserve a portion of my energy to spend on ME, for me.

2. Over-scheduling

Taz whirling white

Many women are just too darn busy!  We juggle multiple roles, each with their own list of priorities. Often these priorities don’t blend well or downright conflict with each other, adding to the complexity of it. I’m reminded of that old “Enjoli” perfume commercial in the 70’s where the jingle went something like “she can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget you’re a man, she’s a woooo-man, Enjoli.” The idea was that women could do it all….and we bought into that ideal and image, but also brought a lot of guilt and non-productive beliefs with us. We began to believe we needed to be perfect. We had to somehow juggle it all…..ourselves. We became martyrs in the effort to be devoted to our families. And if we fell short, the critical inner voice clocked in and we dutifully berated ourselves with self-criticism, put-downs and even became angry and impatient with ourselves.

We don’t HAVE to do it all. Our job is to manage it. Know what needs to be done, but find ways to delegate some of it. Can some errands be done monthly or twice a month instead of weekly? Is there any way to combine tasks which will save time? Not long ago, I found I was spending way too much time on errands and needed to limit how many times a week I did them. I began putting items on a list and limiting errands to only once or twice a week. If we went without certain things for a couple days, it wouldn’t be the end of the world! Now many people buy non-perishable and household items off the internet saving them time traveling to a store.

We can say NO…..we don’t have to fit in one more thing to an already full schedule.

3. Chronically Undervaluing Ourselves

happy-woman-with-raining-money

The Leadership section of Forbes published an article by Kathy Caprino, a business consultant and writer of career and women’s issues. In it, she recounts in her consulting work how much she sees recurring patterns of women undermining and undervaluing themselves resulting in stalling their personal or career growth.

And these aren’t all women who were raised without opportunity or education working lower paying jobs. Caprino works with middle to senior level women administrators both in the corporate sector and in small business (Caprino, 2012). These are women who have experienced enough success to have excellent self-esteem and know their value. Why is it that no matter where we are in our life’s journey, we women still tend to undervalue ourselves?

As a small business owner, I see this with other women I know in business as well. We know we have gifts and useful products and services, but something gets lost between that acknowledgment and the process of actually doing business.

Learning to feel good about ourselves and our skill set is a daily practice, much like prayer or yoga. It can be helpful to research others in our industry and see what they offer, their price points, and what makes them unique. Use that information to position ourselves wisely. Once we’ve done that, it’s important to stop second-guessing and doubting. Remind yourself of your strengths with a daily gratitude practice and eagerly anticipate new prospects and loyal clients.

Sources:

Caprino, K. Forbes. URL: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2012/10/23/the-7-most-common-ways-women-limit-and-sabotage-their-success/#1d0223ffac31

MENTAL IMAGERY – DOES IT REALLY WORK OR IS IT HYPE?

mental imagery

Is Mental Imagery  Quackery or Science?

In all of my research and learning over the past years, I have heard it said that only human beings possess imagination. That when clinically observing animals, it appears that they function more from a built-in instinct, and don’t create art, music and other pursuits that are thought to be exclusive to human activity. Human beings have the ability to visualize so strongly that the nervous system responds just as if the imagery were actually happening.

American athletes such as women’s tennis pro Billie Jean King have been using peak performance techniques since the 50s and 60s. (Clarey, 2014.) European researchers at the Advanced Mental Training Institute in Russia have said that “the ordinary athlete realizes less than half of his/her potential unless the powers of the mind are used.” Well known golfing pro Jack Nicklaus echos this belief having been quoted as saying that the mental image was 50% of his golf game.

One only has to look at Russia and the USSR to see how effective this training is on Olympic athlete performance. At one point during the latter 20th century, they were thought by some to be unbeatable with their reputation for sweeping gold medals.  During the 1980 Olympics, an experiment was done by the Russian team designed to measure how skill level was affected by different ratios of physical to mental training. Athletes were divided into four groups, each with a different percentage. The result was that the group that did the MOST mental training (75%) and the least physical training (25%) showed the greatest improvement in performance. (Korn, Sheikh, & Korn, 1994) Pretty amazing result!

Richard Suinn, a well-respected sports psychologist, studied skiers for many years and found that when athletes simply imagined the act of skiing, electrical signals are sent by the brain the same as when actually skiing. (Maese, 2016) Suinn has been working with Olympic athletes since 1972 and has promoted visualization protocols since then.

Peak performance and business trainers along with motivational speakers for over half a century have touted the importance of visualizing goals ahead of time in order to increase one’s ability to achieve them. Names like Tony Robbins, Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Brian Tracy, and Zig Ziglar all talk about the importance of mental imagery, the act of rehearsing a successful desired outcome rather than a failed outcome through negative thinking or self-doubt.

So, since we are creative beings, we can harness the power of our imaginations in either a productive or a detrimental way. It just depends upon our focus. The Science and Education fields both report evidence that mental rehearsal or visualization of our desired outcome actually increases desired results. What results are you working on obtaining right now? Write out details of your desired outcome using all the senses, smell, touch, hearing, even taste and spend several minutes 2-3 times a day to focus on these details and vividly imagine. Comment below on your insights/experiences. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Works Cited

Clarey, C. (2014, 2 23). Olympians use imagery as mental training. Retrieved February 18 2017, from New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/sports/olympics/olympians-use-imagery-as-mental-training.html?_r=0

Korn, E. R., Sheikh, A., & Korn, E. (1994). Mental Imagery in Enhancing Performance: Theory and Exercises. New York, New York.

Maese, R. (2016, July 28). For Olympians, seeing (in their minds) is believing (it can happen). Retrieved February 18, 2017, from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/for-olympians-seeing-in-their-minds-is-believing-it-can-happen/2016/07/28/6966709c-532e-11e6-bbf5-957ad17b4385_story.html?utm_term=.0f8f219ba79f

Robson, P. (2011, June 20). Mirror Mirror in our Brains. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from Wishful Thinking Works: https://wishfulthinkingworks.com/tag/visualization-studies/

 

TONY ROBBINS ON FINANCIAL FREEDOM AND RETIREMENT PLANNING

Tony Robbins, intervention strategist, businessman and author, when discussing his book, “Money: Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom” said that when he was interviewing Warren Buffett for his book, he asked — “what are the secrets to your wealth, he said it’s three things. No. 1, it’s being born in America. No. 2 is good genes, so I live long enough, and No. 3, it’s compound interest. Compound interest — people have no idea the power that it really has.” (USA Today, 2014)

woman saving jars

This is exactly the point I was making  during the first quarter of this year  in my article “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” People generally underestimate the power of compound interest and never get started!  Remember, even if you’re saving less than you’d like, you ARE saving! And that’s better than putting it off and doing nothing.

Robbins also recounted a story about “Theodore Johnson, a UPS employee who never made more than $14,000 a year, but set aside 20% of every paycheck and put it into company stock. The man saw the value of his investments soar to more than $70 million by the time he was 90 years old.” A woman I personally know, who retired a millionaire, confided in me when I asked her about her success, that basically she’s “just been a good saver” as she put it. She always lived below her means, always saved, and only bought things she truly needed allowing her to save even more over her lifetime. The power of time and compounding interest did the rest.

The best advice I can give as a life/wellness coach echoes the words of these role models in finance.  START NOW…however you can…make a commitment to set aside 5-10% of your paycheck in a long-term investment account. If you’ve already begun, but you’re not happy with how your investments are doing, have an independent investment advisor like Anthony J. Mancini Investments take a look for you (at no charge, just mention my name) and see what can be done to improve them.

savings is key
Saving is the KEY to financial freedom.

Let me hear from you. Are you already investing for your future like an empowered woman would? Does investing intimidate you? What tips can you share with other women that will help them create a savings habit? Look forward to your comments.

Source cited:
Hellmich, N. Tony Robbins’ 7 steps to financial freedom in retirement. USA Today. December 9, 2014. Accessed April 24, 2018. URL: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/12/09/tony-robbins-money-book/19278963/

Can Millenials Still Hope for the American Dream?

The following article put out by the website “The Pursuit of Happiness” was so poignant that I decided to repost it in its entirety.  It turns out apparently that the decisions young people make about the order in which they finish their education, select a mate, and establish a career and family has a huge effect upon socioeconomic outcomes. Read on to learn just how much.

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The Success Sequence:
Why Education, a Job, Marriage, Then Kids Is the Working Order
June 14, 2017
Success-Sequence
Ah, millennials. In some ways, they’re very traditional, suggesting that women should stay at home to raise their kids. In other ways, they are very Bohemian, doing as they please when the mood hits. But it turns out, the old-fashioned “success sequence” — a (high school or higher) degree, job, marriage, then children, in that order — is still the winning combination for securing financial well-being, even for this late-day-and-age group.

The term “success sequence” isn’t new. It was coined in the last decade by researchers looking for policy ideas that could help break the cycle of poverty. Of course, it was criticized for pointing out that the cycle of poverty is more likely to be perpetuated for kids born into poorly educated households without two parents and few economic opportunities. It has become rude to point this out even though that’s the problem the research is trying to solve.

But facts are facts, as it were, and a new study by W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, and Wendy Wang, of the Institute for Family Studies, found that the success sequence holds up as a guidepost for today’s Millennials as it did for Baby Boomers, even after adjusting for a wide range of variables like childhood family income and education, employment status, race/ethnicity, sex, and respondents’ scores on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT), which measures intelligence and knowledge of a range of subjects.

The study found that “diverging paths into adulthood” taken by 28- to 34-year-olds — the eldest of the Millennial age group — produce very different economic outcomes.

Among the findings:
• Millennials who follow the “success sequence” almost always avoid poverty, with 97 percent of Millennials who married first not being poor by age 28, compared to 72 percent who had children first.
• 71 percent of Millennials from lower-income families who put marriage before children made it into the middle class or higher when they reached adulthood. Conversely, 41 percent of Millennials from lower-income families who put children first made it into the middle class or higher when they became adults.
• Among black young adults, those who married before having children are almost twice as likely to be in the middle- or upper-income groups (76 percent) than those who had a baby first (39 percent).

Since 55 percent of 28- to 34-year-old millennial parents had their first child before marriage, the economic and family impacts will be felt for decades.
Millennials are more likely than previous generations to delay marriage and parenthood, but that doesn’t mean that they have to forego the order of education, work, and marriage. Indeed, there’s a reason the success sequence works.
Why might these three factors be so important for young adults today? Education confers knowledge, skills, access to social networks, and credentials that give today’s young adults a leg up in the labor force. Sustained full-time employment provides not only a basic floor for household income but, in many cases, opportunities for promotions that further boost income. Stable marriage seems to foster economies of scale, income pooling, and greater work effort from men, and to protect adults from the costs of multiple partner fertility and family instability.

Moreover, the sequencing of these factors is important insofar as young men and women are more likely to earn a decent income if they have at least acquired a high school education, and young marrieds are more likely to stay together if they have a modicum of education and a steady income. So, it’s not just that education, work, and marriage independently seem to matter, but the sequencing of education, work, and marriage may also increase the odds of financial success for today’s young adults.

Wilcox and Wang point out that there’s no statistical model to perfectly predict a youth’s future success. Some who succeeded came from roots missing those steps. Others who lived in households that followed the sequence ended up in the bottom third of the income scale. Lastly, there’s no conclusive evidence that the “sequence plays a causal or primary role in driving young adult success.”
The researchers also note that it’s easier to follow the success sequence when one is born into it, as opposed to young adults who came from poor neighborhoods, bad schools, and less educated households. It’s also easier to follow the success sequence when one comes from a cultural background that adopts these ideals and expectations rather than those groups who hold these values in lower regard.

But there’s no mistaking that the numbers overwhelmingly favor those who do follow the course, and that’s where both one’s personal “agency” and public policy come into play.

This report suggests that young adults from a range of backgrounds who followed the success sequence are markedly more likely to steer clear of poverty and realize the American Dream than young adults who did not follow the same steps.
Given the value of the success sequence, and the structural and cultural obstacles to realizing it faced by some young adults, policymakers, educators, civic leaders, and business leaders should take steps to make each component of the sequence more accessible. Any initiatives should be particularly targeted at younger adults from less advantaged backgrounds, who tend to have access to fewer of the structural and cultural resources that make the sequence readily attainable and appealing. The following three ideas are worth considering in any effort to strengthen the role that the success sequence plays in the lives of American young adults.

Source: http://www.thepursuitofhappiness.com/category-life/success-sequence-education-job-marriage-kids-working-order/

Full Report: https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/IFS-MillennialSuccessSequence-Final.pdf

What is the most precious gift we can receive?

While researching recently, I ran across this article written by a young woman who possessed a truly special gift. The gift of having received unconditional love. She writes:

Grandpa and Granddaughter share a unique connection.

“Two years ago I lost my grandfather. He’d been ill the last time I saw him and I knew it was coming. And yet, I was still not prepared for the depth of my grief. I had lost loved ones before, but while I had loved them, they weren’t him. He was special. He saw me.

If you know what it means to be seen, I don’t need to say anymore.

If you’ve never felt seen, let me explain what that feels like: It is the very best feeling; better than love, better than friendship. It’s looking into another’s eyes and seeing complete acceptance, acknowledgement, and the truest form of love.

And I got that from him. Every time he looked at me. Every conversation we had.

Every moment we shared together. And then he was gone. He moved on and I was left feeling/worrying that I would never know that kind of love again. That I would never be seen.” (Yule-Rosen)

That “complete acceptance, acknowledgement, and the truest form of love” she describes is what we all crave as human beings. The unconditional acceptance that says you are just fine just the way you are, imperfections and all. It’s an emotional embrace…….that transcends our psyche into the very depths of our spirit, and fuels it, fanning it into a bright flame that lights the space surrounding it. Yet, how many of us, had a far different experience with the people who we spent most of our time with growing up?

When we extend this type of acceptance and true acknowledgement, we play a part in making our world a better place. Why? Because the better people feel about themselves, the more their self-esteem develops. When people have healthy self-esteem, they treat others better. Communities and societies function better. Everyone wins!!

Ghandi was quoted as saying: “Relationships are based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation.”

Today, with the people who come across your path, practice unconditional acceptance and love. It IS a conscious choice, this business of loving people. Even the people who are difficult to love, that we have “issues” with, can be extended love when we separate who they are from their behavior. We don’t have to like or agree with what they have done that upsets us, but we can CHOOSE to love them as human beings anyway. Their VALUE as a human being is separate from the behavior they may be, in our opinion, foolishly or hurtfully choosing.

If we VALUE others, then we do our utmost to not mistreat them. It results in the world becoming a better place simply because we chose to extend love. Change your world today…..one person at a time!

Sources cited: Yule-Rosen, M. “Are You Hiding Yourself in Fear of Being Fully Seen?” Tiny Buddha – Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives. Accessed August 16, 2017 URL: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/are-you-hiding-yourself-in-fear-of-being-fully-seen/

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