Planning and Preparing

One of the many things that people talk about in October is fire prevention and safety.  It’s an important topic to talk about in schools with kids, and many schools make it fun by bringing in one of the town’s fire trucks or at the very least a real firefighter for the kids to meet.  It’s an important topic to talk about in schools because people of all ages including kids need the information about what to do if a fire happens, so that they’re less likely to freeze and more likely to be able to escape.

But preparation is an important topic for everyone, and not just with regards to fires or natural disasters.  Preparation on even a very basic level gives you the support to have some control on the basics of your life even when other things are going out of control.  Being prepared means you don’t have to panic when company comes in from out of town or your boss asks you to stay late or the kids have a project due tomorrow they “forgot” about or your partner needs you to go out to dinner with them and their boss or you’re not surprised by or unable to afford an annual bill because you’ve been saving up all year.

Preparation doesn’t necessarily mean having every single duck in a row, just that you’ve got a solid handle on what usually goes on, you’re aware of what’s going on around you and what’s definitely or potentially coming up, and have resources available for things that might go wrong or come up.  Preparation often goes hand in hand with planning ahead.  By planning ahead whenever possible, and teaching your kids to do the same with regards to their clothing needs, homework/studying/projects and extracurricular activities, all of you will be better equipped to handle whatever curve balls life throws at you.

Preparation is not typically a labor or time intensive activity, but even still it can pay off big in the long run.   It can be as simple as having a spare of favorite home and kitchen items before you run out, taking time to sit down and look at the week ahead and anticipate what will happen and what could happen, and talking with the people in your life about scary but important topics like what everyone’s steps should be in a fire or other disaster.  What will you do to prepare for the days and months ahead?

Taking Time to Prepare

Whether you have a spiritual practice or not you’re probably familiar with the celebration of Easter which happens later this month. For those who celebrate Easter as a spiritual holiday, they’re currently going through a period called Lent, or some 40 days of mental and spiritual preparation before the actual celebration of Easter.

Preparation is something that should be a regular part of all of our lives, spiritual or not. We aren’t born ready for most things in our lives, we have to learn them or get ready for them. Sometimes that takes years of preparation and experiences to get to the point of being prepared to do something or be someone. There’s a reason that we vet the big leaders and people we hire (or we’re supposed to), so that we know we’ve got someone qualified and not just some random individual off the streets.

Part of preparation is planning ahead.  Sometimes that means just anticipating how things may happen in the future and being mentally (and financially) prepared for that, other times it means doing certain things first or doing things in a certain order so that you’re ready.  A great example is baking bread.  Bread isn’t a one-step process, you don’t just mix all the ingredients together in a random order and it’s done, you’re never done until you bake it, and most breads have several steps including a rest period and have to be baked.

I know we sometimes wish we could skip all the preparation and planning steps, but in many cases they make it easier to work through things when they finally happen and make it easier to deal with everything else that’s going on in our lives at the same time.  Don’t ignore the necessity and importance and value of taking the time to prepare. Taking that time can make things go easier and more successfully for you in the future.

Making Life Safer and More Peaceful for the Next Generation

The words “back to school” are echoing around the country. For some school is a welcome time, for others there’s a lot of apprehension. Both parents and kids can struggle with back to school time, and one of the challenges that has been increasingly becoming a greater point of concern is the safety issue. Whether from outside sources or inside sources violence and bullying has been increasingly on people’s radars. But it’s not exclusive to schools, as you may know, violence and threats can happen anywhere and at any time, whether an orchestrated attack or driving incident that happen between two parties that have zero connection, or a natural disaster that is more serious than anticipated.

Safe is a term that we throw around but aren’t always able to follow through on. Why? Because there are too many variables to be able to fully anticipate all potential dangers. The best way to be safe though is with planning and honesty. The first thing I think as adults we need to do is be willing to admit that there are dangers around, and not to be oblivious to them. This is a first step that not everyone takes, because who really wants to think about this stuff?

The next step is to be honest about some of the potential things that could go wrong and outline some kind of plan for them. While you don’t have to have precise steps that should be taken in the event of certain things happening, it’s a good idea to at least have things outlined as to financials and last wishes and even online account information so that in the event of something bad happening your wishes and information are made known. You should also have an emergency fund (and specify what that fund can be used for) that can cover expenses for 6 months or more. You should also have at least one discussion with the family about these things so that everyone is at least aware of where the information is, what plans are if something happens and who the contact people are outside of the family should something happen.

Of course the third step is to be smart about how you live. That doesn’t mean that you don’t take some risks or don’t have any fun, but it means that you don’t drive recklessly, you don’t do drugs, you get help from a therapist or counselor if you’re struggling with anger or hurt or depression or something else, and generally think before acting in life.  Your better habits will teach your kids to have better habits as well.

No family ever likes to think about the dark side of life, but it’s a reality. If you want your family to be safer, do what you can to make it more likely that you’re all protected. But even though safe isn’t a guarantee, a greater sense of peace can be a reality if you take the time and effort to do a little planning. What are you doing to make the world a little more peaceful, and hopefully safer, for the next generation?

The Future of Your Business

Lately I’ve been coming back to a topic that isn’t one that we really like to think about, but is something that affects us personally and professionally: death. At some point in time all of us will die, and just about every business will go out of business at some point in time. Very few businesses stand the test of time, often because the world changes and either they can’t keep up with the changes, or there’s no one to continue on after the current owners are done with the business. So today I thought we’d take a minute to talk about next steps with your business, whether you’re hoping to sell, planning to pass it on or some day going to close up shop.

Whether you’re planning to sell or planning to pass it on one of the most important things you can do to not only make your business appealing to the next person, but to ensure that you pass along the best version of your business that you can, is to keep good records. This means that not only is everything recorded in a way that people can easily figure out what you’re sharing, but the information can be used to make important decisions in the future and the information shows that you’ve got a great concept and the customer base to support the business.

If you’re planning to close up shop some day one of the most important things you can do now and when that time comes is have good resources that you can pass your people off to. I’ve been connected with several individuals and companies who decided to close their doors and left absolutely no way for people to keep in touch with them or suggestions about who they can connect with that offers the same heart, quality and services that they did to now replace them. I understand if you want to be done with your business (or need to be), but you’ve spent a lot of time building trust with people and they’ve gotten to know you and see you as a valuable resource, so to just toss them out like garbage just because you’re done is inconsiderate. You’ve got a new future you’re moving on to, but they were relying on you for parts of their future.

But the fact is that paying attention to detail, keeping good records, building a network of reliable customers, having data to consider, and having a network of people you can recommend people to are things that can be invaluable now while your business is being built, growing or thriving, not just when you’re closing that chapter of your life.

The one last thing I would encourage you to keep in mind is that everything does come to an end at some time. It’s always better if you’ve got the control to finish things out as you want them to go, rather than working through a mess or leaving the mess for someone else. What plans do you have for the future of your business?

Summer of Change

Summer is a great time to work on change with your kids and family. Why? Because most of us have lighter schedules that allow for taking a little time off to do those big projects, weather that allows both indoor and outdoor activities and plans to be done, less things on the schedule and more opportunities to put in a little time each day to work on those changes, and an abundance of people home from college who can watch the kids if you and your partner need to work independently of the kids on something. It’s not always easy to work on change, but having the abundant resources that the summer provides to work on changes does make it a little easier and remove many of the excuses you’ve been using to hold yourself back.

Why work on changes? Because whether it’s the mile-long to-do list that you’ve been adding to for too long, or the stuff that’s just sticking around bothering you or holding you back, neither is good for your family or you personally. If you’re familiar with the concepts of Feng Shui, the law of attraction and the laws of abundance, they also speak to the importance of having a space that allows you to think, grow, love, create and prosper, which aren’t things you can do if you’re feeling pressured by that to-do list or all the stuff just hanging around.

Also, if it’s on your to-do list it must be there for a reason. Sometimes we do put things on there that we think we’re supposed to put there, but most often it’s stuff that really does need to be there, even if we end up doing the lower priority stuff first because it’s less intimidating, or less of a commitment, or less of a change.

So what are the big changes you might work on this summer? Organizing clothes, organizing the kitchen, organizing the garage/shed, cleaning up the outdoor areas, organizing the office, changing diets/eating habits, increasing exercise consistency, setting aside consistent time for personal development, making more consistent time for your partner and/or kids, reducing your bad habits (including overspending, too much TV, too much junk food, not enough sleep etc.) or even job searching (or starting a business), just to name a few.

What will you (finally) work on this summer?

Processes and Procrastination

As we head towards the end of another week you may be thinking about what you can toss onto the piles on your desk or mark so that you deal with it next week and not today or tomorrow.  I’m familiar with the process, everyone does it to some extent. And to some extent it’s necessary to do because there are only so many hours in a day and while you may have something sudden and time-sensitive come up today, you may not have that tomorrow and be able to deal with things from today tomorrow.  The danger comes in when you never get to “tomorrow” and you keep having to put out fires and deal with emergencies today and never get to that other stuff you keep putting off.

The good news is that a portion of what you keep putting off can be handled by someone else.  You can get someone else to file the papers or place/pack orders or refill supplies or input data to a spreadsheet or program or app.  The bad news is, as you probably guessed, they can only do so much as they are not you. All that help is great to a point, then you have to step back in and choose or approve purchases, reply to clients, or confirm the data.

But what it comes back to is that you need to stop and realize that there’s a problem and you’re tired of seeing the problem day after day and not being able to do what you want to with or about it.  Maybe it’s as simple as changing the software, program or procedure that you do things with/through.  Maybe it’s creating a schedule and following it 95% of the time.  Maybe it’s just hiring someone to help out a few hours a week (on either the personal or the professional side).  But I believe that for many of the things that we’re putting off, there’s a simple solution that can make it much easier and much less painful to do the job and get it done quicker and with the results you’re looking for (or at the very least results which is something you didn’t have before).

If you’re struggling with the never ending search for tomorrow in your work or home, I encourage you to take an important first step before the end of the week.  Maybe it’s reaching out to an organizer or coach like myself who is local to you and getting the conversation going.  Maybe it’s taking 30 minutes to investigate other program/procedure options.   Maybe it’s sitting down with your team and talking about who’s doing what and who would rather do what and who can help you clear things off your plate (making things easier for everyone).   What will you do?

Reflection Time

I’m still doing some reflecting and considering as we work into this new year.   2016 felt like being in a cement mixer at times for some of us, it certainly didn’t seem like a smooth ride personally or in the world.  As I’ve been reading a number of posts at the end of the year and the beginning of this one, I identified with what a number of people were saying about the year that just ended and how they felt about it, what they ended up doing in that year and of course where they’re headed in this new year.

For many 2016 ended up being a year of personal growth, not so much professional, although plenty of people and companies did have a very successful year.  For some 2016 was so bumpy that it was hard to even identify or understand that until new year reflections happened.  So if your year was anything like mine, I’m going to encourage you to work through these questions over this week before you give up on your resolutions and/or before you make final decisions about where you want this coming year to go:

What was your best memory?
What was your worst memory?
What was your biggest accomplishment?
What was your most satisfying victory?

What goals do you have for 2017?
What relationships are you going to create or work on in 2017?
What do you want to stop doing in 2017?
What needs to most change in 2017?

Just how good can life get?
Will this be a courageous year for me?
What will make you happy?
What will you love?

As I do my own reflecting and consider where I’m taking things this year, I’d love to hear from you what you would like from me in this blog and/or in what I offer in my business? How can I best help you make more victories in your life and what are you struggling with?

Unfinished Business

As we get closer and closer to the end of this year we’ve talked about what to do with this week and how you can get ahead for 2017. For this last business post I wanted to talk about something we don’t really like to talk about: the stuff that doesn’t get done.  Often we talk about this stuff in terms of numbers of unread emails or unpaid invoices or bills to be paid.  But there are tons of other things we’ve got on our “I really need to do…,” “If I have time I’ll do…” and “Sometime I’ll…” lists.  It’s those items that I want to talk about today, especially those you’ve been putting off for years or those that you put off each year (and partially complete later).

First, know that sometimes you can just pitch it all and be done with it and there’s a really good chance you’ll never miss any of it.  I know, you may wonder what you’re missing out on, but sometimes the best thing you can do is just completely free yourself from it.  With physical items I think it’s best to go through things super quick because there may be a treasured family heirloom in the pile, but especially when it comes to emails, if it’s 5+ years old and you haven’t read it you can probably get rid of it.

But what about those to do lists?  I would go over them because there are probably potential clients you meant to get back to but haven’t, suppliers or joint venture partners you’ve been meaning to reach out to, marketing you’ve been meaning to do, marketers who you were thinking of hiring to help you or even mentors you’ve been wanting to reach out to.  Take a look at those lists and decide which of those are still things that need doing, and make the time over the next few weeks to accomplish them slowly but surely, maybe setting aside a couple of hours a week to tackle it.

Why? Because I’m reminded every so often how busy we are.  We have so much going on personally and professionally, that often we’re just doing the very best we can to keep things moving forward and some things just don’t get done as a result, even if they’re important to do.  Also, most sales aren’t made with the first contact, it can take 20 or more contacts in today’s busy world to make a sale or get that published piece in the paper or on that industry website or blog.  So I would encourage you as we finish out this year to commit to following through on what you’ve said you would do with your employees, customers and opportunities in your personal and professional life more in the coming days and year.  No, you won’t be perfect and won’t get it all done, but I know I already feel better just committing to do it, rather than thinking about adding it to another list.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

This month one of the topics we’ll be talking a lot about is patience.  Sometimes it’s good and necessary to be patient, other times we should move quicker and/or let go of things quicker than we do.  Today though I want to focus on that classic saying about patience: slow and steady wins the race.  We’re all in a big hurry to get somewhere, get something done, meet someone or even be someone.  It’s not a bad thing to have a goal that you’re working towards and be really excited about getting there. In fact, that’s a good thing.  But sometimes when you’re excited about reaching the finish line you skip over essential steps in the journey, maybe even jeopardizing the end result you were hoping for.

Slow and steady means that first and foremost you’re taking your time to create and follow a checklist or list of steps.  It means that you’re making sure you’re doing things right so that the end result is what you were hoping for.  Cooking is a great example of the importance of slow and steady.  If you do any cooking you’ve probably tried to rush a few recipes, maybe by throwing in a “splash” of milk instead of measuring the exact amount the recipe (or box) calls for.  As a result you may end up watering down the recipe which could alter the other flavors you’ve added, causing you to either suffer through a not-great recipe, or try to fix it by adding other ingredients.  Your additions may help the recipe turn out great, or not so great, but if you had only taken a couple of extra seconds to do the measuring it would have turned out as expected and no fixing would be required.

Patience, and the concept of slow and steady, doesn’t mean that you have to stop.  It is more about being more intentional about the steps you take and how you do them than waiting and not doing anything.  If you’re waiting around patiently for things to happen, make sure that you’re not supposed to be doing things at a slow and steady pace, or that there aren’t other things you could be doing.  For example if you’re patiently waiting for a job (and filling out applications on a daily basis whenever possible and going on interviews), there are probably lots of things that you’ve been putting off doing around your home or in your life like balancing your checkbook, cleaning and organizing or exercising or hobbies, or even super relevant activities like learning things that can boost your resume.  So in between patiently doing and waiting for applications and interviews, get going on those other things because you’ll feel better about yourself and better care for yourself, and won’t feel as frustrated about not working because you’ll be using your time well.

Let’s take this month one day at a time!

Giving Thanks for Time

Today as we discuss being thankful I want to talk about something that I’m struggling with and you may be too: time.  It’s a tricky beast, isn’t it!?  Many of us spend a lot of time talking about it, berating it, bemoaning it and trying to squeeze every last second we can from the hours we’re given.  Some people do waste the time they have or don’t use it very well, but even they tend to talk about how little time they seem to have.

So why be thankful for time? Why talk about it on Monday instead of another day when we could talk about productivity strategies and time stealers (no worries, we will make time for this in the near future)?  Because time is one of the most valuable gifts, tools, opportunities and resources we have. It, along with health, is one of the things that we take most for granted.  When people are told they’re dying in the near future they often write and try to make it through a bucket list.  When people are on their death beds they comment that they wish they had more time to spend with those they’re leaving behind.  When people we know die too soon we say that we wish we had more time with them.

So as much as this discussions is about the value and importance of managing your time well and making time for the things that really matter in life like your health and relationships, it’s also about being grateful for the time that you do have.  We’re so blessed to be living in a day and age when we’re expected to live 80+ years.  I can’t imagine what it used to be like hundreds of years ago when the average lifespan was much less.

So this week make time to appreciate being alive, that you have the time to panic over and stress about, and do your best to use your time and life wisely.

“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”   Seneca