Monday, 26 September 2011

11 Practical Ways to Spend Your Money

Practical Ways to Spend Your MoneyI know, I know.  Saving and investing your money for the future is one of the most practical things you can do.  This is solid advice, but when you do decide to spend your hard earned money it should be spent on something practical, useful, and meaningful to the wellbeing of your existence.  So many people either save their money or blow it on worthless crap.  Here are 11 practical ways to spend your money on something useful:
  1. Travel to See the Significant People in Your Life – There may be no better way to spend your money than to use it to nurture and rekindle personal relationships with the most significant people in your life.  As time quickly passes, we sometimes forget how essential strong personal relationships are to our mental wellbeing.  The older we get the more we need true friends and family to be regular parts of our lives.
  2. Hire a Personal Trainer – Your health is your life. Without it, all the success and affluence in the world is meaningless.  Committing yourself to a regular exercise routine is one of the best ways to maintain the health of your body and mind.  Sometimes it’s hard to tackle this endeavor on your own.  Spending money on a knowledgeable personal trainer who can set you on the right course creates priceless results.  Make sure you stick with the trainer until you are committed to exercising on your own.
  3. Fix What Is Broken – Have you been ignoring your screeching brakes?  What about the excessively loud hum from your AC compressor?  Or the scratching noise coming from your computer system?  Sooner or later these small annoyances will wear down the reliability of the product and you will be left with a completely broken product instead of just a halfway broken one.  Use your money wisely to fix and maintain your belongings.
  4. Educate Yourself – Use your money to purchase educational courses or books pertaining to your career, or to a miscellaneous topic that interests and intrigues you.  Remember, knowledge is power and your brain is the container of that knowledge.  There are few options for spending money on something more practical than the development and facility of your brain.
  5. Add Value to Your Home – Your home should be your sanctuary, the place on this planet where you feel the most comfortable.  Adding value to your home, be it personal value or increased monetary value, is always a practical choice for spending your money.  If the additions you make increase your level of comfort for years to come, you win.  If they increase the value of the home to a third party someday when you sell, you win.  If both occur, you win big.
  6. Take a Healthy, Relaxing Vacation – A vacation revitalizes your mind by pulling you away from the daily stress factors in your life.  It can spark creative thought by stimulating your brain with new material.  And finally, a vacation allows you to be yourself without the external influences present in your typical surroundings.  Does that sound like something worth spending money on?  It should.
  7. Upgrade Something You Use Regularly – There is nothing wrong with splurging on a practical item that you actually use on a regular basis.  If you are a hardcore movie buff that loves to watch movies on Saturday nights with your family and friends, having a 65 inch HDTV and a Blue-ray player makes sense.  If you love computer games, purchasing a powerhouse laptop gaming rig makes sense.  The idea is to never waste money on stuff you don’t use.  Spending money on upgrading your hobbies is one of the reasons you work so hard in the first place.
  8. Buy Meaningful Gifts for Key People in Your Life – One of the most rewarding acts in life is the act of giving; especially to those key people you truly care about the most.  Spend a little money every now and then on a sensible gift for some of the key people in your life.  Surprise them.  It doesn’t have to be their birthday or a holiday.  Remember, there is no better gift than an unexpected gift.  You will make them feel special.  For instance, my buddy Donny brought me back a cool souvenir from Amsterdam a few months back and it just made me feel good.
  9. Update Your Wardrobe – You don’t have to waste money on the latest overpriced fashion line to look good.  However, if you are still wearing the same ratty shirts, slacks and shoes from 5 years ago, it might be time to go shopping.  While appearance isn’t everything, it can make you look older, smarter and more emotionally mature.  First impressions for job interviews, dates, and the like are heavily weighted on the way you look.  Sometimes it is practical to dress to impress.
  10. Buy Healthier Food – “You are what you eat.”  There is a great deal of truth in that statement.  It is impossible to maintain a healthy body and mind if you pump your body full of junk food.  Fresh, healthy food is usually more expensive, but this is an expense with priceless benefits to the longevity and wellbeing of your future.  Eating healthy goes right along with bullet number 2 about hiring a personal trainer.  Your health is your life.
  11. Pay Down Debt – This one is a no brainer, so I just couldn’t bring myself to leave it off the list.  If you have a great deal of high interest debt it would be foolish not to pay it down before you go off and splurge on additional purchases.  There is nothing less practical than being a slave to your debts.

28 Unique Bits of Financial Brilliance

Financial BillianceFinancial wisdom is not intrinsic to the mind, it’s learned.  Most people who are brilliant with their finances received at least some third-party guidance.  Maybe they absorbed the knowledge from a parent or grandparent.  Or perhaps they pursued it on their own by reading personal finance books, blogs and magazines.
Either way, if you’re not doing well financially, you’re probably ready for some advice that makes sense.  Here are 28 unique bits of financial brilliance from around the web, each linking back to a source article containing further instruction and insight.  Enjoy.
I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.
- Jackie Mason
  1. Stop buying “stuff” you do not need! – “Purchases of a few hundred dollars add up quickly to thousands of dollars.  On top of that, if you carry a balance on your credit card, you will pay on average 12% to 14% interest.  These rates can skyrocket quickly if you are late on even one payment.  In addition, you may become subject to late fees and penalties.  All this to get something that isn’t even used or enjoyed.  No thank you!” – via My Super-Charged Life
  2. Start rolling an income snowball. – “Most people know how they’d make money in an ideal world. The problem is that most of these “ideal” schemes require lots of time, planning, risk taking, etc. On the other hand, most of us have skills that we could implement tomorrow to make money independent of an employer (this could be anything from doing landscape to hiring ourselves out as a consultant).  So the first step in creating an income snowball is to write a list of things you can do to make money in ascending order of difficulty and speed of implementation.” – via The Growing Life
  3. A car lasts longer than 5 years.  Stop wasting your money! – “Cars are simply a method of basic transportation…that’s all they are. They are assembled hunks of metal sitting on four tires designed for the purpose of transporting us safely from point A to point B. I doubt Henry Ford ever envisioned the kind of luxuries we see in today’s automobile - voice activated radio controls, heated leather seats, heads up displays, and backup cameras installed in bumpers. If families invested the $400 a month wasted on new cars into a good, growth stock mutual fund for 30 years they could easily retire millionaires. Hope you like the car!” – via Frugal Dad
  4. Live within your means. – “When you spend less than you make, you are buying flexibility and freedom. You gain the ability to change jobs or move to another area of the country. You are buying the ability to say yes to the things that matter because you save on the areas that aren’t as important to you.” – via Productivity501
  5. Debt can make you money.  It’s called good debt. – “Would you take a million dollar loan at 1% interest? I would. I’d immediately put it in a few interest baring accounts that are FDIC insured (I say a few because FDIC insurance doesn’t cover a whole million). At today’s rates, which are historically pretty low, you can make a guaranteed 3% on that money. That means the debt naysayers would be missing out on 2% of a million dollars, $20,000 a year.” – via Lazy Man and Money
  6. Money management can have many positive side effects. – “My husband and I both work out our finances together. I’m still the budget maker and bill payer in the family, but since we make the decisions on how the money is allotted, we have to make the time to communicate, come to an agreement, and project our monthly financial plans. We’re more unified in our marriage than we’ve ever been.” – via simple mom
  7. If you don’t have an emergency fund, start one now! – “It’s better to be safe than sorry.   Nobody can anticipate when the roof will have to be repaired or an appliance will need to be replaced.  The idea is to try to find ways to live below your means so that you can save for retirement and other long-term goals but at the same time make it a priority to set money aside in the event an urgent need arises.” – via Everything Finance
  8. Financial freedom only solves small problems. – “You know what really determines our happiness levels? Not money, but how optimistic we are and how often we have monogamous sex. Money cannot solve big problems, like cancer or world hunger or happiness. Money solves small problems, like, can you have a big wedding, can you go on a good trip. Small problems are what people talk about when they talk about financial freedom.” – via Brazen Careerist
  9. Financial calculators are your friend.  Use them! – “In various posts I have referenced financial calculators that I like.  I’m going to put them all in one post so they are easy to find for reference.  As I find more, I’ll add them to this list.” – via My Dollar Plan
  10. There is no specific template for business success. – “Living a life that’s not based on a template and being true to yourself may not mean paving a road in the sky like the Wright Brothers. However, if you tell everyone you want to start your own business, you will be doubted. They’ll tell you everything that’s wrong with your idea and why it won’t work: You have no experience. You’ve never run a business before, what do you know about sales? It takes money to make money. Almost no one starting their first business knows exactly what they are doing.” – via Illuminated Mind 
  11. Carrying a credit card is safer than carrying cash. – “The maximum liability for unauthorized use of a credit card is $50 according to federal law.  The Fair Credit Billing Act protects you from suffering damages due to unauthorized use of your credit card. If you report a lost or stolen card before anyone uses it, you are not responsible for any charges. If you do not report it before an unauthorized use you are liable for a maximum of $50.” – via The Consumerist
  12. There are numerous ways to make money on the side. – “The old phrase “spend less than you earn” is made up of TWO factors: spending and earning. Sure you can reduce your spending by a great deal, but very few people have saved their way to wealth. They have also earned additional income and then put that money to work for them.” – via The Wisdom Journal
  13. Dream big!  It will motivate you to save. – “We know that we want to retire early, but that goal is completely intangible. If I try really hard, I can conjure up an image of me waking with a sense of freedom to simply work when the mood strikes, but that dream isn’t very action-oriented. On the other hand, I can feel the wind in my hair as I dodge my husband (cackling wildly behind me) around a tree on our custom go-kart track. Now that’s some good motivation to live simply and keep saving!” – via On Simplicity
  14. Financial intelligence is your most lucrative financial asset. – “Before investing in real estate or the stock market, invest in yourself by developing your own financial intelligence. As they say, knowledge is power.” – via The Change Blog
  15. Concentrate on your passions and money will follow. – “Making money isn’t the backbone of our guiding purpose; making money is the by-product of our guiding purpose.”  If you’re doing something you love, you’re more likely to put your all into it, and that generally equates to making money. - Warren Buffett – via Success Soul
  16. Some sunken costs are worth letting go of. – “Persisting with bad decisions due to our irrational attachment to costs that we cannot recover has become so common that you can find them just about anywhere.  Big organizations and governments excel at it.  A government that insists on a war so the lives already spent “are not wasted” comes to mind, but I digress…” - via Litemind
  17. The best things are free.  Money cannot buy happiness. – “You’ve heard the saying ‘The best things in life are free.’  Do you believe it? Spending time with family and friends, laughing, enjoying the antics of a pet, seeing a child smile, experiencing intimate and heart-felt moments with a loved one - these times are precious, and free.  Money brings comfort, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying that comfort.  But it’s important to spend money on the things that matter to you and let go of spending that does not add value to your life.  We spend on what we need, but we forget why we are doing what we’re doing, and the spending becomes a habit.” – via Think Simple Now
  18. There are scores of simple ways to reduce spending. – “Use grocery store bags to line trash cans: This may not work if you use a massive trash can but we use a small sized one for which the grocery bags are a perfect fit. This not only helps us save some money, but reduces our environmental foot print and avoids the kitchen from stinking from a huge overflowing trash can.” – via Dumb Little Man
  19. Wealth comes with wealthy thinking. – “Ask yourself, right now, how much you think you are worth in terms of your employment.  I can almost guarantee you the figure you came to was based on your current salary.  Now add a ‘0’ onto the end of the figure you came to; how does that make you feel?  If you thought ‘there is no way I am worth that’, then you are a poor thinker.” – via Change Your Thoughts
  20. Be careful when lending money to friends and family. – “It’s age old advice for a reason.  The problem with lending money to loved ones is this:  If you lend serious cash to someone you care about, you still expect it back right?  Sometimes the people we care about expect the relationship you have with them to excuse or “forgive” loans that you have no intention of forgetting about… especially if you can’t afford to.  Tempers flare, words fly like knives, and those knives sever relationships.  Sometimes those wounds heal, and sometimes the damage is permanent.” – via In My Heels
  21. Spending less keeps you grounded to what matters most. – “I like being frugal, living simply, spending less than I have to because it keeps me real.  It keeps me grounded. Adds humility to my life.  It’s like sticking my fingers in my ears and sticking my tongue out at pretentious people who think money is all that defines a person.  I don’t want to be flashy and flaunty and feel the need to show what I have or make to find worth in myself.  If that’s how I am trying to value myself, I might as well give up now, because it makes me worthless.” – via Remodeling This Life
  22. Bike to work… or anywhere for that matter. – “I bike somewhere between one and three times a week to work.  It’s a nine mile ride one way.  Taking in the cost of gas in our area (currently $3.85/gallon), and wear and tear on the car, I estimate I save close to $4.50 each day that I ride my bike.  And this does not take into account any residual health benefits that will down the road in life make the cost of any potential health care I might need lower due to being in better physical condition.  Cost savings alone should make biking at least a consideration for anyone who lives within a few mile of their work location.” – via The Jungle of Life
  23. Sit on purchases for at least 24 hours. – “When making a large purchase, it’s far too easy to get caught up in the emotions of having the item, which results in bad decisions.  For any large purchase like a car, TV, new furniture, laptop, etc. implement a 24 hour rule.  Instead of buying the item right away, go home and wait 24 hours to see how you feel about it.  Chances are you’ll talk yourself out it, or maybe decide to purchase something a little less expensive.” – via Gather Little By Little
  24. Don’t fall victim to advertising tactics. – “Big companies try many tricks to get us to buy goods we don’t really need.  For example, don’t be swayed by 50% sales promotions; just because it is on sale doesn’t mean it’s good value or that you need to buy it.  Don’t get excited over every 3 for the price of 2; otherwise you will just start to accumulate things you are never going to use.  If you feel pressured by salesman, walk out — if you really want the product you can always come back.” – via Pick The Brain
  25. Untargeted capital allows for a flexible lifestyle. – “Some people target all their saving and investing at something in particular–buying a computer, buying a new car, putting a down payment on a house, sending the kids to college.  These are all worthy goals, but the sequence of them can easily eat up all your savings for virtually your entire life.  I think people who do this miss out on certain large advantages that come from having some untargeted capital.  Having a little capital saves you buckets of money.  It also gives you a lot of flexibility in how you live your life.” – via Wise Bread
  26. You have to decide what you really want. – “What would you like your net worth to be?  When would you like to retire?  How much money do you need to finance your life goals?  What investments would you like to make?  Are you going to create multiple streams of income?  Are you going to invest in stocks and/or bonds?  Are you going to invest in real estate?  Are you going to hire a financial planner?  Is your goal to create enough passive income so that you don’t have to work another day in your life?” – via Abundance Blog
  27. Discuss money openly with your partner. – “Money can’t buy you love, but it sure can tear it apart.  And while I can’t claim that my wife and I are perfect when it comes to money and relationships, I can say that we’ve come a long way, and we rarely ever have money disagreements anymore.  It wasn’t always that way, and we’ve had our share of fights along the way, but we’re in a much more solid relationship these days because we learned how to talk about money, and how to align our financial goals.” – via Zen Habits
  28. Saving your health can help you save your wealth. – “How many motorcyclists, bicyclists, skateboarders, etc. do see foolishly blazing around without wearing any form of protective body gear?  It’s your life.  A quality bicycle helmet will cost you $40 and 2 seconds of your time to put it on before you ride.  If you don’t wear one and end up crashing and cracking your head open, it could cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills and take months, if not years, for your body to fully recover.”

18 Things You Are Wasting Money On

Waste Your Money
Money can buy freedom – freedom from trading hours for dollars.  Money can buy options – the option to do what you want to do instead of what you have to do.  Money is great to have as long as you manage and spend it wisely.  But most of us never do – we waste it and we don’t even realize it.
How?  Why?
Because many of the items and services we buy aren’t worth what we pay for them.
Here are 18 common money wasters to beware of:
  1. Bottled Water – Water is one of the most abundant, freely available resources on planet Earth.  So is air.  If I bottled some air, would you pay 2 to 3 dollars a bottle for it?  I doubt it.  Bottom line:  Buy a water filter for your tap and stop wasting your money.
  2. Magazine and Newspaper Subscriptions – The same exact articles are online for free.  I can read them right now and I didn’t pay a dime.  Why are you?
  3. Printer Ink Cartridges – If you’re buying brand new ink cartridges every time you need new ink for your printer you’re paying about $8000 a gallon for ink.  Yep, that’s right!  Computer printer ink is one of the most overpriced consumer goods.  For home users, instead of buying new ink cartridges, take your old ones to a store that will refill them for half the price.  For businesses that do lots of printing, consider outsourcing the bulk of your printing.
  4. More House Than You Need – When you buy or rent a house that’s bigger than you need, you end up wasting lots of money on larger monthly payments, higher upkeep costs, higher utility bills, and lots of random ‘stuff’ to fill up the extra empty space.
  5. Insurance – Car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, title insurance, etc.  Insurance companies love to rip us off.  And while you can’t totally avoid them from a legal standpoint, you can shop around and save yourself a boat-load of cash.  Don’t get comfortable paying what you’re paying simply because you’re used to it.  Make sure you’re getting the best deal.
  6. Premium Cable or Satellite offers thousands of television shows and full-length movies – all for free.  And Netflix charges $9 a month for access to hundreds of thousands of television episodes and movies on DVD, or you can stream them live to your computer.  So if you’re paying more than $9 a month, you’re wasting your money.
  7. Retail Furniture – Most people don’t realize that home furniture has a 200% to 400% markup on it.  A typical retail furniture store must maintain warehouse inventory, a showroom, commission salesmen, etc. which all equates to a fairly high overhead.  For this reason it is normal for furniture retailers to maintain extremely high markups.  A typical piece of furniture that has a ‘suggested retail price’ of $500 will usually cost the retailer less than $200, so even when they put it ‘on sale’ for $400, they’re still making over 100% profit.  The best way to save big money on furniture is to buy from an online furniture store with low overhead, buy wholesale, or buy slightly used on eBay or craigslist.
  8. Restaurants and Prepared Foods – I don’t need to tell you this.  Eating out is ridiculously expensive.  So is buying prepared foods at the grocery store.  Buy both every once in awhile as a treat, but learn to cook and prepare your own food on a regular basis.  It’s not just cheaper, it’s healthier too.
  9. Nutritional Supplements – Protein powders, vitamins, sports drinks, etc. – all of them are overpriced and have been proven by doctors to be mediocre sources of nourishment.  The answer to good health rests not in a once or twice a day supplement solution, but in an integrated approach to good baseline nutrition though healthy eating habits that give us the energy we need to enjoy our lives and the best chance of warding off illnesses.
  10. Luxury Name Brand Products – A car gets you from point ‘A’ to point ‘B.’  A purse holds your personal belongings.  A pair of sunglasses shades your eyes from the sun.  A shirt keeps you warm.  If you’re paying premium prices just to get a fashionable brand name labeled on each these products without any regard for how efficiently the products actually serve their practical purpose, you’re wasting your money.
  11. New Cars – See my previous point.  A car is a means of transportation to get you from one place to another.  If you’re buying a new car every few years even when your old car works perfectly fine, you’re likely trying too hard to impress the wrong people… and you’re going broke in the process.
  12. Electronics Warranties – When you buy new electronics a warranty might seem like a decent thing to invest in.  After all, a warranty covers everything from technical problems to spilling soda on the circuits.  But don’t be fooled.  Most of the time the numbers just don’t make sense.  For instance, a two-year extended warranty on a $400 laptop at Best Buy will cost you upwards of $280 – that’s about 70% of the original price.  You’re better off saving your money and taking your chances.
  13. Retail Computer Software – Most retail computer software is marked way up.  You can easily find OEM copies of the exact same software online (on eBay and similar sites) for 25% - 50% less.  Also, look into free open source software alternatives.  For instance, Microsoft Office Professional 2010 costs $300 at Best Buy, but you can download’s professional office suite which has all the same word processing, spreadsheet, etc. capabilities for free.  And is 100% compatible with Microsoft Office files.
  14. Medical Issues that Can Be Avoided – Eat right and exercise regularly!  Keep your body and mind healthy!  Major medical problems drain back accounts, increase insurance rates, keep you from working and earning money, and generally guarantee that you will have long-term financial problems.
  15. Prescription Medication – The previous bullet leads directly into this one.  Prescription medicine has one of the highest markups of any consumer good. The sky high cost of prescription medications is crippling parts of the US economy and keeping necessary medicines out of the hands of those who need it most – people living on fixed incomes with acute or chronic health issues.  Unlike other countries, there are no price controls on prescription medications here in the US.  So we end up paying 200% - 5000% markups on essential medicines and drugs such as Prozac and Xanax.  The solution is to buy wholesale at wholesale resellers such as Costco.  Costco’s prices are typically half the cost of the local retail pharmacy on many popular prescription medications.
  16. Jewelry and Precious Gems – All jewelry is subject to volatile changes in price and high markups.  The industry average markup varies widely – 100% to up to over 1000%.  And jewelers thrive on the uneducated buyer, so do your research.  Also, jewelry is almost always an emotional purchase, so you need to think logically about what you’re getting, how much you’re paying for it, and what your other options are.  And even then, you probably won’t get a great deal.  Buying and wearing less jewelry is always the smartest choice.
  17. Second-rate EntertainmentThe best things in life are free.  Stop wasting your money on movies, games, and other second-rate entertainment and take a good look around you.  Mother Nature offers lots of entertainment free of charge.  Go hiking, go skinny dipping, play in the rain, build a bonfire with your friends, watch the sunset with your lover, etc.
  18. Nasty Money-sucking (and life-sucking) Habits. – Smoking, drinking and gambling are all perfect examples of bad habits in which you choose to trade short term pleasure for long term debt and discomfort.  So light one up, shoot one down, and toss another chip across the table.  It’s only your life and livelihood.

20 Ways To Create Million Dollar Ideas

How To Generate a Million Dollar Idea
Big companies like Apple, super successful websites like Facebook, and bestselling books like The 4-Hour Workweek all have one thing in common:  They begin with a million dollar idea.
The big question is:  How did their creators come up with these ideas?  Did they sit around waiting for an inspirational flash or a mystic spell of luck?
The answer is:  Spontaneity and luck had little to do with it.
In this article, we’ll take a brief look at 20 tried and true techniques that some of the brightest and most successful entrepreneurs have used to generate million dollar ideas.
You don’t need to have a 100-person company
to develop and execute a good idea.
- Larry Page (Google)
  1. Generate lots of ideas. – The more ideas you create, the more likely you are to create an idea worth a million bucks.
  2. Fail a lot. – All of the ideas that don’t work are simply stepping stones on your way to the one idea that does.  Sometimes you have to fail a thousand times to succeed.  No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
  3. Consume information consciously. – Some of my friends think it’s wasteful that I spend so much time reading books and blogs.  It’s not.  It’s what gives me an edge.  I feel engulfed with new ideas and information.  And I’ve actually used what I’ve learned to launch a few successful websites.  When you read things and interact with people, take off your consumer cap and put on your creator cap.  There are million dollar ideas (or at least some really good ideas) all around you waiting for discovery.
  4. Focus on topics and ideas with large markets. – A million dollars is not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly is if you’re trying to earn it in a small market with limited opportunities.  Even if you put Steve Jobs in the role of CEO for a new venture with a maximum market size of 100 people he wouldn’t make more than a few cents.  ‘Big bucks’ result from high demand in a substantial market.
  5. Make sure there’s money in your market. – Bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is.  Before you become emotionally attached to an idea, do a little market research.  Make sure the idea you’re pursuing is where the money is.  Who are the clients and consumers?  How much disposable income do they have?  Etc.
  6. Keep your eyes, ears and mind wide open. – Oftentimes one idea’s failure will open a door to a new idea.  Don’t get so hung up on one failed attempt that you miss the opening for many more.
  7. Test variations of the same idea. – Think about the iPhone and the iPad for a second.  One is just a variation of the other.  Both are multi-million dollar ideas.
  8. Figure out what works well in one market and tailor it to another. – Find an idea that’s already proven and think about how it could be applied in a different context.  Take a formula that works in one niche and apply it to a new niche.  Or take the best aspects of one product and combine it with another product.
  9. Put the pieces together. – YouTube’s creators didn’t invent Flash.  They didn’t invent modern digital cameras that can record computer-ready mpeg video.  And they didn’t invent broadband Internet connections, cheap web hosting, embedded website content, or one-click website uploading technologies either.  What they invented is a technology that takes all of these existing pieces and combines them into an online video sharing portal.
  10. Spin a new twist on a previous breakthrough. – A new twist on an old idea can still be a million dollar idea.  Take Facebook for instance, it wasn’t the first big social networking site, but Mark Zuckerberg and company added twists and features the others did not grasp.  How can you take an existing million dollar idea, or even a common idea, and give it a new twist, a new direction and journey?
  11. Systematize a popular service into a reproducible product. – A service is productized when its ownership can be exchanged.  Think about Alienware and Dell back in their infancy.  Both companies simply systematized the service of building IBM compatible PCs and then sold them as a packaged product.  If you can convert a high demand service into a scalable, systematized, efficient process and sell it as a packaged deal, the million appears.
  12. Play with opposites. – When something becomes extremely popular, the opposite often also becomes popular as people turn away from the mainstream.  When Wordpress, Blogger and Movable Type exploded in popularity by giving anyone with an Internet connection the ability to share long, detailed blog posts with the world, Twitter and Tumblr came along and started the micro-blogging revolution – for people grasping to share extremely short content snippets.  There are hundreds of other examples.  Just remember, the opposite of a million dollar idea can paradoxically give birth to another million dollar idea.
  13. Look for problems and solve them. – There are many real problems in this world.  Like a business owner wondering why his profits are sinking.  Like a golfer worrying about his slice.  Like a young man who is growing bald at 26.  Like a mom whose child is suffering with allergies.  Like a new dog owner who’s unsure what to do about her puppy barking all night.  Solving problems like these can make millions.
  14. Design new products that support other successful products. – How much money do you think iPod, iPhone and iPad case manufacturers are making?  Millions?  Billions?  What about companies that jumped into the market of manufacturing LCD and Plasma TV mounting brackets eight years ago?  You get the idea.
  15. Keep it simple. – Don’t over complicate a good idea.  Business marketing studies have shown that the more product choices offered, the less products consumers typically buy.  After all, narrowing down the best product from a pool of three choices is certainly easier than narrowing down the best product from a pool of three hundred choices.  If the purchasing decision is tough to make, most people will just give up.  So if you’re designing a product line, keep it simple.  (Read Made to Stick.)
  16. Exploit the resources and skills you already have. – It’s not as much about having the right resources as it is about exploiting your resources right now.  Stevie Wonder couldn’t see, so he exploited his sense of hearing into a passion for music, and he now has 25 Grammy Awards to prove it.  If you pursue a new venture that involves leveraging your resources and skills, you’re ahead of the game.
  17. Surround yourself with other thinkers. – You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with.  If you hang with the wrong people, they will affect you negatively.  But if you hang with the right people, you will be more capable and powerful than you ever could have been alone.  Find your tribe and collaborate to make a difference in all your lives.  Bounce ideas off each other, etc.  (Read Tribes.)
  18. Be enthusiastic about what you’re doing. – Enthusiasm is the lifeblood of creativity.  Big ideas blossom when you’re passionate and enthusiastic about what you’re doing.  It’s nearly impossible to pioneer ground breaking solutions in a domain where there is not passionate intensity.  But when your mind is stimulated by a fundamental curiosity and interest in the subject matter, your creativity will run rampant and your motivation will skyrocket.
  19. Accept constructive criticism, but ignore naysayers. – When someone spews negativity about your idea or product, remember, it doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it, it matters how many do.  No matter how much progress you make there will always be the people who insist that whatever you’re trying to do is impossible.  Or they may jealously suggest that the idea or concept as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares.  When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them.  Instead, forget that they exist.  They will only waste your time and energy.
  20. Actually do something with your ideas! – A million dollar idea is simply a good idea given the chance to grow.  On paper, Google and Facebook sprung from fairly ordinary ideas: ‘a search engine that’s accurate’ and ‘a website where friends connect with each other.’  Remember, neither of these companies were the first ones in their market.  Their ideas weren’t groundbreaking at the time.  Many people had the same ideas even before Google and Facebook existed.  But Google’s and Facebook’s creators did something with their ideas.  They worked hard and one-upped the competition.  Their initial success was in their execution.  Remember, it’s not the ideas themselves that count, it’s what you do with them. With the right execution, a simple idea can evolve into a million dollar idea.

111 Lessons Life Taught Us

Everyday Life Lessons
Sometimes thinking about your life and sorting out what you have learned is just as important as tackling a new venture.  That’s what our new sister site, Everyday Life Lessons, is all about.  It’s an online community where people share, rank and discuss life’s greatest lessons.
The site challenges you to reflect on your past, dig deep within yourself and answer one simple question:
What has life taught you?
Think about all the things you would love to tell yourself if you could travel back in time to give your younger self some advice about life.
Here’s a sample of 111 life lessons that were recently submitted to the site:
  1. Spend more time with those who make you smile and less time with those who you feel pressured to impress.
  2. Never tell someone their dreams are impossible. You’ll feel like a fool when they prove you wrong.
  3. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
  4. Pursuing happiness by acquiring material things (fancy cars, expensive jewelry, designer clothing) is like jogging to the grocery store on your treadmill: it won’t get you anywhere.
  5. Laugh at stupid jokes. Apologize. Tell someone how much they mean to you. It’s the small moments that make life grand.
  6. At 79, I regret the things I didn’t do far more than the things I did.
  7. Life is way more enjoyable when you stop trying to be cool and simply focus on being yourself.
  8. Start by asking yourself whether each of your relationships drags you down or lifts you up. Surrounding yourself with positive, loving people is half the battle of living a happy, successful life.
  9. When the ‘want’ gets stronger, the ‘how’ gets easier.
  10. Too often we judge people on too little information. Instead of judging someone for what they do or where they are in their life, figure out why they do what they do and how they got to where they are.
  11. If you want to feel rich, just count all the great things you have that money can’t buy.
  12. I have taken noticed that the deeper I know about myself, the clearer I understand others.
  13. You can’t change who you are. You can only change what you know and how you apply this knowledge.
  14. I don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends I can be certain of.
  15. People who are meant to be together will find their way back to each other. They may take detours, but they’re never lost.
  16. The older I get, and the more I learn, the more I realize I know so little. At 72, life still teaches me new lessons every day.
  17. You can press forward long after you can’t. It’s just a matter of wanting it bad enough.
  18. Complaining is like slapping yourself for slapping yourself. It doesn’t solve the problem, it just hurts you more.
  19. Embrace change. As uncomfortable as it is sometimes, change allows us to stretch and grow. New things feel awkward and scary at first, but those feelings go away, and you are left with something bigger and bolder in your life.
  20. Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
  21. No matter how bad your heart has been broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief. The sun comes right back up the next day.
  22. Supporting, guiding, and making contributions to other people is one of life’s greatest rewards. In order to get, you have to give.
  23. Learn to adjust the sails of your life to unpredictable winds, while keeping your focus clear on your destination. And keep sailing until you get there.
  24. As you strive to achieve your goals and dreams you can count on there being some fairly substantial disappointments along the way. Don’t get discouraged, the road to your dreams may not be an easy one. Think of these disappointments as challenges - tests of persistence and courage - that life throws at you during your journey. They are necessary and are meant to help you grow as a person.
  25. Spend less than you earn, go without until you have the money in hand.
  26. Freedom is the greatest gift. Self-sufficiency is the greatest freedom.
  27. Even when you feel like you have nothing, someone else likely has far less. Find them and help them. You’ll see why.
  28. Marriages evolve and change. The feelings you had for the man or woman you married will mutate and evolve several times over the life of a marriage. Hopefully you will evolve in the same direction or at least embrace and accept the changes in the other person. It takes work, and sometimes it takes counseling. Don’t gloss over those changes or you may wake up next to a stranger one day.
  29. Negativity breeds more negativity. When you focus only on the negative, obviously that’s all you will see. You will not seek out positivity, and even when positivity comes into your life, you’ll look for the negative side of things.
  30. If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.
  31. As a child, I always thought the expression “it’s better to give than to receive” was trite and silly. As an adult, I recognize the expression’s value. Having the capacity to give means you possess a mindset of abundance. Having the will to give means you want to make a difference in the world. Having the desire to give means you care.
  32. It’s not so much what you say that counts, it’ how you make people feel.
  33. Figure out what you want. Set real goals and make a logical plan to achieve them. It’s like the old saying, “A goal that is never written down is nothing more than a New Year’s resolution.” And we all know what happens to New Year’s resolutions.
  34. Being open-minded is the key to more knowledge. If you want to know more about the world you have to keep an open mind. You have to give people and things a chance.
  35. If you want love, give love. If you want friends, be friendly. If you want money, provide value. It really is this simple.
  36. If something won’t be significant to you 3 days/3 months/3 years from now, don’t waste all your time worrying about it now.
  37. Manage aging, but why fight it? You can spend a fortune on face creams, plastic surgery, hair growth formulas, and Botox, but eventually you realize you are fighting an uphill battle. Groom yourself nicely. Stay fit. Have unsightly things removed. But accept the beauty of aging. A striking mature man or woman is much more attractive than someone who looks overly taunt, tanned or top-heavy.
  38. Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.
  39. Being busy and being productive are two different things.
  40. Life is unbelievably brief. When you’re young, you might feel like there’s a huge mass of time ahead of you. But trust me, it passes much faster than you think. You get gray hairs before you feel like a real adult. And then you have kids, and suddenly they’re leaving for college. Stop long enough to appreciate it all.
  41. Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
  42. Your health is your life, keep up with it. Get an annual physical check-up.
  43. Change is the only permanent thing in life.
  44. Having a thousand credentials on the wall will not make you a decent human being. But genuinely helping one person everyday will.
  45. You must create and look for opportunities. Opportunities rarely ever come knocking on the door of someone who’s not seeking them. You have to create and seek opportunities for yourself. You have to take the initiative to get the ball rolling and the doors opening.
  46. Keep your brain active. Don’t get into a mental rut. Do new things, learn new things, explore new ideas in all areas of your life. Keep challenging yourself and your mind. Be curious and interested in the world around you.
  47. Someone always has it worse. At times you may be having a bad day, but stop yourself and think about it; there are plenty of other people who have it worse off than you do.
  48. In work and business, when they need you more than you need them, you have succeeded.
  49. Trying to be somebody you’re not is not sexy. Be you. That’s when you’re beautiful.
  50. Truly ‘rich’ people need ‘less’ to be happy.
  51. Your ability to select a suitable spouse will greatly influence your financial and emotional well-being. Three common sense guidelines: 1. Pick someone who’s a joy to be around and who makes you happy. 2. Know the person well. 3. Ensure compatibility beyond physical attraction because beauty and youth are fleeting, while the mind and heart endure.
  52. No matter how much progress you make there will always be the people who insist that whatever you’re trying to do is impossible. Or they may incessantly suggest that the idea or dream as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares. When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them. Instead, forget that they exist. They will only waste your time and energy.
  53. We are all weird. And life is weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we call it love.
  54. Saying “no” to right people gives you the time and resources required to say “yes” to right opportunities.
  55. Living a life of honesty creates peace of mind, and peace of mind is priceless. Period. Don’t be dishonest and don’t put up with people who are.
  56. If you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop. You’re on to something big. Because hard work ain’t hard when you concentrate on your passions.
  57. Bulls**t might help you get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there. The truth always rises to the top and buries the bulls**t eventually.
  58. After 40 years of teaching at a local college I’ve come to realize that a teacher is nothing but a clever student.
  59. Sooner or later, you just want to be around the people who make you smile.
  60. Forgiving yourself is far more important (and difficult) than getting others to forgive you.
  61. Simplicity is often a major factor of success. But the process of simplifying things is rarely easy.
  62. There are few joys in life that equal a good conversation, a good read, a good walk, a good hug, a good smile, or a good friend.
  63. Laughter is the best medicine for stress. Laugh at yourself often. Find the humor in whatever situation you’re in.
  64. Everything that happens in life is neither good nor bad. It just depends on your perspective.
  65. When you spend time worrying, you’re simply using your imagination to create things you don’t want.
  66. Maturity is more about education and life experience than it is about age. I know plenty of mature 30-somethings and immature 50-somethings.
  67. When passion and skill work together, we’re often left with a masterpiece.
  68. You’re not alone. Everyone has problems. Some people are just better at hiding them than others.
  69. True friendship and true love do sustain the tests of distance and time.
  70. It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary. I believe this to be true and have experienced this with my own family. When I think of the times where we laughed the most or had the most fun – it was when we were doing simple, everyday things like swimming in a pool, combing a beach for shells, playing a board game or sharing a delicious meal.
  71. Get up 30 minutes earlier so you don’t have to rush around like a mad man. That 30 minutes will help you avoid speeding tickets, tardiness, and other unnecessary headaches.  (Read Getting Things Done.)
  72. It is okay to be angry. It is never okay to be cruel.
  73. Arguments are natural. An argument between two close friends doesn’t show a lack of love or respect, it’s simply a disagreement. In fact, quite often, the only reason we get frustrated with people and argue with them is because we care about them. Which is why we need to remember not to get too carried away.
  74. Money and stuff are not all that important. Yes, you want enough to be comfortable and do the things you want to do. But accumulating for the sake of accumulating is boring and empty. Trust me, it gets old fast. So feed your soul, not your ego.
  75. Hang out with younger people. Stay connected with what the generation behind you is doing and thinking. Establish friendships with them. You will benefit and learn from each other. Don’t act superior, because younger people may know a whole lot more than you do.
  76. There is nothing to hold you back except yourself. There is only one question to ask yourself here: “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Think about it.
  77. No matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win.
  78. Either you’re going to take action and seize new opportunities or someone else will. You can’t change anything or make any sort of progress by sitting back and thinking about it.
  79. Your years spent at school, reading and learning will seem short compared to a lifetime of minimum wage jobs. Get a good education, concentrate on areas that interest you and pursue your dreams.
  80. Keep six months of your salary in an emergency savings account just in case you lose your job or have an emergency that prevents you from working for a prolonged period of time. And keep a few extra hundred dollars on hand for unexpected expenses, such as car and home repair.
  81. A hero is someone who makes a positive difference in someone else’s life – even if it’s only one other person’s life.
  82. You’re never too old to follow your dreams, whatever they may be. I didn’t start my first business until I was 46 (something I always wanted to do). Now at 53, my business is more successful than I ever could have dreamed.
  83. Let your kids fail. Your kids will be okay, even if you think they are headed for the juvenile hall right now. Don’t come to their rescue all the time. Don’t manage every detail of their lives or over-schedule them with karate or viola lessons. Give them some boundaries, and then relax.
  84. Be vulnerable. Allow yourself to feel, to be open and authentic. Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around yourself and feel every exquisite emotion, both good and bad. This is real life. This is how you welcome new opportunities.
  85. There’s no such thing as ‘risk free.’ Everything you do or don’t do in life has an inherent risk.
  86. Take a step back to gain some perspective. Usually when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. In the grand scheme of things, this one problem means almost nothing.
  87. Every mistake you make is progress. Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
  88. The greatest “adventure” is the ability to INQUIRE, TO ASK QUESTIONS. Sometimes in the process of inquiry, the search is more significant than the answers. Answers come from other people, from the universe of knowledge and history, and from the intuition and deep wisdom inside yourself.
  89. If it were easy everyone would do it. This is why get rich quick schemes will never be true. If it was so quick and easy then everyone would be millionaires. Making money and accomplishing tasks is hard work, but well worth it.
  90. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  91. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
  92. Count your blessings every day. I know, this is a refrigerator magnet line, but practice it daily anyway. There is so much good, so much beauty, so much love in your life. What more do you really need? You have so much right now, you just need to pause long enough to appreciate it.
  93. It’s not about getting a chance, it’s about taking a chance. You’ll rarely be 100% sure it will work. But you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Sometimes you just have to go for it!
  94. The one with nothing to hide is always the one left standing tall.
  95. There is only one way to learn, and that is through action. Trying to learn without doing is like trying to lose weight by watching someone else exercise. It’s just not going to work.
  96. Change happens for a reason. Roll with it. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
  97. Experience life before you settle down. Whatever it is you want to do or experience, do as much of it as you can before you have children. Especially travel. Live in a hostel in Costa Rica for a month or drive across the country from coast to coast if you have to. But go have some really great, amazing, mind-blowing experiences.
  98. Life gives and takes away. During difficult times, be committed to resolving problems, but also lighten up and ride the waves of impermanence. What is a monster problem today will be a forgotten thought in the future.
  99. When two people cooperate instead of competing against each other their teamwork accomplishes far more than either of them could have achieved on their own.
  100. Between what happened and what will happen is your choice. So choose to be positive in everyday tasks.
  101. The best feeling in the world is getting paid to do what you love to do.
  102. Good looks attracts the eyes. Personality attracts the heart.
  103. If you’re smiling right now, you’re doing something right.
  104. If you live your life consumed by the past, you waste the great moments you still have left to live.
  105. Treat every small interaction with another person as an opportunity to make a positive impact in both your lives.
  106. There’s a big difference between knowing and doing. Knowledge is useless without action.
  107. Time is of the essence. You are born and you will die. Don’t waste the time in between. Use a time management system to control events, rather than have events controlling you.
  108. The French have an aphorism that you don’t appreciate something until you don’t have it anymore. In 40 years from now what is it that you will regret not having accomplished, appreciated or attempted? Do it, appreciate it, attempt it NOW!
  109. If it’s out of your control, why fret about it? Concentrating on things you can control is how you make good things happen.
  110. Never send a text message, email or photo to someone that’s unfit for the eyes of the entire world. In this digital age you never know what might slip into the public eye.
  111. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing. Growing happens when what you know changes how you live.

75 Reminders for Tough Times

Reminders for Tough Times
When life gets stressful, we often forget the things we should remember, and remember the things we should forget.
Here are 75 reminders to help motivate you when you need it most.
Tough times never last, but tough people do.
- Robert H. Schuller
  1. You never know how strong you really are until being strong is the only choice you have.
  2. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
  3. You cannot change what you refuse to confront.
  4. Nobody is perfect, and nobody deserves to be perfect.  Nobody has it easy.  You never know what people are going through.  Every one of us has issues.  So don’t belittle yourself or anyone else.  Everybody is fighting their own unique war.
  5. Crying doesn’t indicate that you’re weak.  Since birth, it has always been a sign that you’re alive and full of potential.
  6. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.  (Read Unstoppable.)
  7. Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.
  8. Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness.  Let it go.
  9. Making one person smile can change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  Start small.  Start now.
  10. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
  11. Never let success get to your head, and never let failure get to your heart.
  12. You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.
  13. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
  14. You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren’t busy denying them.
  15. Give up worrying about what others think of you.  What they think isn’t important.  What is important is how you feel about yourself.
  16. When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.
  17. When other people treat you poorly, keep being you.  Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are.
  18. You have to accept that some things will never be yours, and learn to appreciate the things that are only yours.
  19. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one in the world who’s struggling, who’s frustrated, or unsatisfied, or barely getting by.  But that feeling is a lie.  And if you just hold on, someone will find you and help make it better.  Because we all need a little help sometimes – someone to help us hear the music in our world.  To remind us that it won’t always be this way.  That someone is out there right now.
  20. Don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone.  Some of your best life experiences and opportunities will transpire only after you dare to lose.
  21. Sometimes we accidentally allow small problems to escalate and dominate our lives.  If we get overcharged a few cents, it is irritating, but don’t let it ruin your day.  There will always be small issues that irritate us; the secret is to be able to give them the miniscule level of importance they deserve.
  22. Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak, sometimes it means you are strong enough and smart enough to let go.  (Read The Dip.)
  23. Ask yourself whether each of your relationships drags you down or lifts you up.  Surrounding yourself with positive, loving people is half the battle of living a happy, successful life.
  24. Spend more time with those who make you smile and less time with those who you feel pressured to impress.
  25. There are few joys in life that equal a good conversation, a good read, a good walk, a good hug, a good smile, or a good friend.
  26. Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future for too long.  Right now is life.  Live it.
  27. No matter how cautiously you choose your words, someone will always twist them around and misinterpret what you say.  So just say what you need to say.
  28. In order to be creative, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
  29. Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of good luck.
  30. To be great does not mean you have to dominate others.  It means you have to dominate your own potential.
  31. If you are passionate about something, pursue it, no matter what anyone else thinks.  That’s how dreams are achieved.
  32. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
  33. Forgiveness is one of the primary keys to happiness.
  34. The best revenge is happiness, because nothing drives your adversaries more insane than seeing you smile.
  35. Stay positive when negativity surrounds you.  Smile when others frown.  It’s an easy way to make a difference.
  36. If a person wants to be a part of your life, they will make an obvious effort to do so. Don’t bother reserving a space in your heart for people who do not make an effort to stay.
  37. Don’t regret intimate relationships that don’t work out.  Because they will only help you find the right partner for you, and better appreciate them for everything they do and everything they are.
  38. What lies before us and behind us are tiny matters when compared to what lies within us.
  39. The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists.  It rewards people who get things done.  And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time.
  40. Never lie – not even a white lie!  When you steer away from the truth, you steer away from your soul.  Be honest, be real and tell the truth.  This awareness forces you to make better choices and be a stronger person.
  41. Feelings, good and bad, always come and go.
  42. Don’t get caught up in wasted potential from years past.  Potential is all we ever have.
  43. We are not alone.  No matter how bizarre or embarrassed or pathetic we feel about our own situation, there will be others out there experiencing the same emotions.  When you hear yourself say “I am all alone,” it is your mind trying to sell you a lie so you will continue to feel sorry for yourself.
  44. It is okay to be angry.  It is never okay to be cruel.
  45. Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.
  46. Mistakes teach you important lessons.  Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal.  The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
  47. Money is a renewable resource.  If you lose some money, don’t sweat it.  You can always make more.  However, if you spend valuable time stressing over money, or lost opportunity, you’ll never get that time back.  Time is more valuable than money – time is the greatest constituent of life.
  48. Never let people know that they got to you.  Ignore them.  Hold your head up high and pretend all their negative remarks don’t even phase you, and someday they actually won’t.
  49. There is nothing to hold you back except you.  And there is only one question to ask yourself: “What would you do if you were not afraid?”  Think about it.
  50. Life is way more enjoyable when you stop trying to be cool and simply focus on being yourself.
  51. It’s often hard to tell just how close you are to success.
  52. When you spend time worrying, you’re simply using your imagination to create things you don’t want.
  53. No matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win.
  54. You must see things how they are instead of how you hoped, wished, or expected them to be.
  55. Even when you feel like you have nothing, someone else likely has far less.  Find them and help them.  You’ll see why.
  56. Laughter is the best medicine for stress.  Laugh at yourself often.  Find the humor in whatever situation you’re in.
  57. If you want to feel rich, just count all the great things you have that money can’t buy.
  58. Forgiving yourself is far more important than getting others to forgive you.
  59. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  60. You can press forward long after you can’t.  It’s just a matter of wanting it bad enough.
  61. It’s not about getting a chance, it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll rarely be 100% sure it will work.  But you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Sometimes you just have to go for it!
  62. If it were easy everyone would do it.  This is why get rich quick schemes will never be true.  If it was so quick and easy then everyone would be millionaires.  Accomplishing great things is hard work, but well worth it.
  63. Notice and cherish life’s surprises.  Just because it’s not what you were expecting, doesn’t mean it’s not everything you’ve been waiting for.
  64. Be vulnerable.  Allow yourself to feel, to be open and authentic.  Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around you and feel every exquisite emotion, both good and bad.  This is real life.  This is how you welcome new opportunities.
  65. You must create and look for opportunities.  Opportunities rarely ever come knocking on the door of someone who’s not seeking them.  You have to create and seek opportunities for yourself.  You have to take the initiative to get the ball rolling and the doors opening.
  66. If it’s out of your control, why fret about it?  Concentrating on things you can control is how you make good things happen.
  67. Saying “no” to right people gives you the time and resources required to say “yes” to right opportunities.  (Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)
  68. No matter how much progress you make there will always be the people who insist that whatever you’re trying to do is impossible. Or they may incessantly suggest that the idea or dream as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares. When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them. Instead, forget that they exist. They will only waste your time and energy.
  69. If you spend 80% of your time focusing on the problem and only 20% on the solution, what do you think is going to happen?
  70. No matter how badly you think your life may be going, or how messed up you think you are, there is at least one thing you are doing right in your life or you wouldn’t be alive reading this.
  71. A problem is a chance for you to learn.
  72. The greatest struggle is to be something different from what the average man is.
  73. In times of great stress, it’s always wise to keep busy, to plow your anger and frustration into something positive.
  74. One thing is for sure: Regardless of the situation, life goes on.
  75. Everyone wants a perfect ending.  But over the years I’ve learned that some of the best poems don’t rhyme, and many great stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, or end.  Life is about not knowing, embracing change, and taking a moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Oh, and…
You wanna know who’s awesome?  Read the first word of this line again.  ;-)

54 Life Lessons 14 Years of World Travel Taught Me

54 Life Lessons from Travelling the World
This post was written by Caz, author of the y Travel Blog.
Travel means so much more to me than simply seeing new destinations and learning about new cultures.  Travel is a journey within myself.  It is through my 14 years of living and traveling around the world that I have learned more about who I am and what my purpose is.  And I have also discovered certain natural laws and truths about life.
Here are 54 lessons I have gradually learned throughout my travels that have helped me to grow into, what I think, is a person who lives an empowered life.
Not all those who wander are lost.
- J. R. R. Tolkien
  1. People all over the world have the same basic wants and needs.  It doesn’t matter where we come from, what we look like, how we talk, or what we believe.  Deep down the essence of who we are as human beings is the same.  This is all that matters.  The outside differences are there to learn from and celebrate without fear.
  2. There is absolute joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of moments.  Swinging in a hammock on the beach while watching the sunset over the horizon, for example.
  3. The more we own, the more enslaved we become.
  4. We don’t need stuff to be happy or to fulfill us; we just need memorable moments and loving relationships.  (Read The Joy of Less.)
  5. Negotiation, business transactions and even personal relationships should always be conducted with the mutual belief in it being a win-win situation.  Everyone needs to walk away with a smile.
  6. The more you help others, the more you get in return.
  7. A smile, a wave and a friendly attitude can break down any barrier and create friendships where language cannot be understood.  Kindness is a universal.
  8. You are powerful beyond measure.  You never know what you are capable of until you push your barriers of comfort, even if it’s just a little bit each day.
  9. Fear can be a guiding friend if you learn how to swallow it, and listen to it only when it serves its true purpose of warning you when you are in danger.
  10. Mother Nature knows everything.  Turn to her more to help ease your medical discomforts and your mental anguishes.
  11. When things frighten you, the best way to do what needs to be done is “1… 2… 3… jump!”  Sometimes you have to dive in before you talk yourself out of it.
  12. The purpose of life is to live in joy.
  13. Life is constantly changing.  You cannot set up rigid rules and expectations.  If you do, you will only be disappointed.
  14. Don’t over plan.  Jump in the boat and let the river take you for an amazing ride.  You will get to the ocean eventually and it be way more fun.
  15. Don’t be afraid to speak to strangers, the majority of them are out to help you, not hurt you.  (Read How to Talk to Anyone.)
  16. People are generally good.
  17. Never let society, or other people determine how you should live your life.  Only you know what is best for you
  18. Question everything until you understand it.  Never just believe or accept because that is the way it’s always been done.  Work it out for yourself.
  19. You will never stop learning until you stop living.
  20. God wants you to have a happy life and does not want you to suffer.  But your happiness is up to you.
  21. God lives in everything.  You don’t need to go to a church or a temple, or pray five times a day to find her.  You just need to know yourself and pay attention to what’s happening around you.
  22. Miracles surround you every day.  Open your eyes to see them and rejoice in them.
  23. There are no problems, only challenges and solutions.
  24. Everything happens for a reason and it all works out in the end.
  25. Climbing a mountain is really about the journey.  You’ll remember this more than the fleeting view at the end, which sometimes can’t even be seen due to the low lying clouds.
  26. Silence and stillness is something to embrace and treasure.  Relax into it and let go of the need to fill it with empty words or actions.  Allow it to be your friend.
  27. Believe in what you celebrate and celebrate what you believe in.
  28. Lie on a remote beach under the night sky, look at the curvature of the earth and gaze with wonder at the stars.  Spend time appreciating and understanding just how small you really are.  This will help you to know that you are not the center of the Universe, yet still a very important, miraculous part of it.  There is power in understanding how small you really are.
  29. We are all interdependent of each other.  Co-operate by finding your niche rather than competing.  Be yourself.  All of us need you to be that way.
  30. You cannot have effective communication without listening.  You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason.
  31. Pay attention to non-verbal forms of communication.  You will learn far more about what someone is trying to say when you listen to their body language in addition their words.  (Read What Every BODY is Saying.)
  32. Hang around people who celebrate you, and avoid those who merely tolerate you.  Life is too short not to.
  33. The Earth is a living organism that is so much more powerful than us.  Look after her.  She will remove us if we threaten her existence.
  34. Trust in your gut.  It’s often quite wise.
  35. Dream big.  Never allow your logical mind to talk you out of pursuing your dreams.  Your dreams are made for you.  Trying is the only way to know if they are possible to achieve.
  36. Your past does not matter and you are not who you were in the past.
  37. Your knowledge and experiences in life are not for you alone.  They are of no use to you or anyone when they are trapped inside you.  Break free from the confines of doubt and insecurity and just let loose what it is you were born to do.  When you live from this position of share, share, share, you will be amazed by the rewards that come back to be shared with you.
  38. ‘This too shall pass’ is universally applicable to all situations in your life, both good and bad.  All the hardships and all the great moments in your life will eventually pass.  Accept this, learn the lessons, have total gratitude for them and then let them go when it is time for them to go.
  39. Worrying is a futile exercise.
  40. If you don’t like something, you almost always have the power to change it.
  41. You are the controller of your own life.  Take responsibility for your words, actions and choices.  And then adjust them to enable you to move in the direction you wish to go.
  42. There is power in pain – building strength and learning
  43. Change is good.  Change is life’s natural state at any given moment.
  44. The only place where life exists is NOW.  Go live it.  Don’t wait for tomorrow or until everything is perfect.  It never will be.
  45. Enthusiasm, joy, awe and gratitude are our most powerful emotions.
  46. When someone tells you that you can’t do something, what they usually mean is: “I can’t because I’m not willing to take a risk or put in the necessary effort.”
  47. Excuses are limitations to our growth and experiences.
  48. You don’t have to be rich to travel the world.
  49. Most of the time the best experiences in life are free, or extremely low in cost.
  50. There is nothing in the world that will get your heart racing more than a silverback charging at you.  And while I wouldn’t recommend that experience specifically, make sure you live your life so your heart races on a regular basis.  It means you’re pushing beyond your own limits.
  51. Make your life a story to tell.  Even most of the bad stuff becomes good when you think of the story it gives you to tell someday.
  52. Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.
  53. Life is all about the memories.  Go create them.
  54. Never travel without an open mind.  Never live without an open mind, it is the greatest gift for growth you can ever give to yourself.

12 Ways to Get a Second Chance in Life

August 8th, 2011 @ 11:25 am  by: Marc

12 Ways to Get a Second Chance in Life

12 Ways to Get a Second Chance in Life
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
-Maria Robinson
We all need second chances.  This isn’t a perfect world.  We’re not perfect people.  I’m probably on my 1000th second chance right now and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Because even though I’ve failed a lot, it means I’ve tried a lot too.
We rarely get things right the first time.  Almost every major accomplishment in a person’s life starts with the decision to try again and again – to get up after every failed attempt and give it another shot.
The only difference between an opportunity and an obstacle is attitude.  Getting a second chance in life is about giving yourself the opportunity to grow beyond your past failures.  It’s about positively adjusting your attitude toward future possibilities.  Here’s how:

1.  Let go of the past.

What’s done is done.  When life throws us nasty curveballs it typically doesn’t make any sense to us, and our natural emotional reaction might be to get extremely upset and scream obscenities at the top of our lungs.  But how does this help our dilemma?  Obviously, it doesn’t.
The smartest, and oftentimes hardest, thing we can do in these kinds of situations is to be more tempered in our reactions.  To want to scream obscenities, but to wiser and more disciplined than that.  To remember that emotional rage only makes matters worse.  And to remember that tragedies are rarely as bad as they seem, and even when they are, they give us an opportunity to grow stronger.
Every difficult moment in our lives is accompanied by an opportunity for personal growth and creativity.  But in order to attain this growth and creativity, we must first learn to let go of the past.  We must recognize that difficulties pass like everything else in life.  And once they pass, all we’re left with are our unique experiences and the lessons required two make a better attempt next time.

2.  Identify the lesson.

Everything is a life lesson.  Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc.  They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’
Never forget to acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way.  If you don’t get a job you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting.  And the lesson you just learned is the first step towards it.

3.  Lose the negative attitude.

Negative thinking creates negative results.  Positive thinking creates positive results.  Period.
Every one of the other suggestions in this article is irrelevant if your mind is stuck in the gutter.  Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story.  The mind must believe it can do something before it is capable of actually doing it.  For some practical positive thinking guidance I recommend reading The Power of Positive Thinking.

4.  Accept accountability for your current situation.

Either you take accountability for your life or someone else will.  And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a pioneer of your own.
You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life.  And no, it won’t always be easy.  Every person has a stack of obstacles in front of them.  You must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles.  Choosing not to is giving up.

5.  Focus on the things you can change.

Some forces are out of your control.  The best thing you can do is do the best with what’s in front of you with the resources you do have access to.
Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation.  Invest your energy in the things you can change.

6.  Figure out what you really want.

You’ll be running on a hamster wheel forever if you never decide where you want to go.  Figure out what’s meaningful to you so you can be who you were born to be.
Some of us were born to be musicians – to communicate intricate thoughts and rousing feelings with the strings of a guitar.  Some of us were born to be poets – to touch people’s hearts with exquisite prose.  Some of us were born to be entrepreneurs – to create growth and opportunity where others saw rubbish.  And still, some of us were born to be or do whatever it is, specifically, that moves you.
Don’t quit just because you didn’t get it right on your first shot.  And don’t waste your life fulfilling someone else’s dreams and desires.  You must follow your intuition and make a decision to never give up on who you are capable of becoming.

7.  Eliminate the non-essential.

First, identify the essential – the things in your life that matter most to you.  Then eliminate the fluff. This drastically simplifies things and leaves you with a clean slate – a fresh, solid foundation to build upon without needless interferences.  This process works with any aspect of your life – work projects, relationships, general to-do lists, etc.
Remember, you can’t accomplish anything if you’re trying to accomplish everything.  Concentrate on the essential.  Get rid of the rest.  The Joy of Less is a great read on this topic.

8.  Be very specific.

When you set new goals for yourself, try to be as specific as possible.  “I want to lose twenty pounds” is a goal you can aim to achieve.  “I want to lose weight” is not.  Knowing the specific measurements of what you want to achieve is the only way you will ever get to the end result you desire.
Also, be specific with your actions too.  “I will exercise” is not actionable.  It’s far too vague.  “I will take a 30 minute jog every weekday at 6PM” is something you can actually do – something you can build a routine around – something you can measure.

9.  Concentrate on DOING instead of NOT DOING.

“Don’t think about eating that chocolate donut!”  What are you thinking about now?  Eating that chocolate donut, right?  When you concentrate on not thinking about something, you end up thinking about it.
The same philosophy holds true when it comes to breaking our bad habits.  By relentlessly trying not to do something, we end up thinking about it so much that we subconsciously provoke ourselves to cheat – to do the exact thing we are trying not to do.
Instead of concentrating on eliminating bad habits, concentrate on creating good habits (that just happen to replace the bad ones).  For instance, if you’re trying to eliminate snacking on junk food, you might create a new mental habit like this:  “At 3PM each day, about the time I’m usually ready for a snack, I will eat five whole wheat crackers.”  After a few weeks or months of concentrating on this good habit it will become part of your routine.  You’ll start doing the right thing without even thinking about it.

10.  Create a daily routine.

It’s so simple, but creating a daily routine for yourself can change your life.  The most productive routines, I’ve found, come at the start and end of the day – both your workday and your day in general.  That means, develop a routine for when you wake up, for when you first start working, for when you finish your work, and for the hour or two before you go to sleep.
Doing so will help you start each day on point, and end each day in a way that prepares you for tomorrow.  It will help you focus on the important stuff, instead of the distractions that keep popping up.  And most importantly, it will help you make steady progress – which is what second chances are all about.

11.  Maintain self-control and work on it for real.

The harder you work the luckier you will become.  Stop waiting around for things to work out.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it.  By “working on it,” I mean truly devoting oneself to the end result.  The rest of us never act on our decision.  Or, at best, we pretend to act on it by putting forth an uninspired, half-assed effort.
If you want a real second chance, you’ve got to be willing to give it all you got.  No slacking off!  This means you have to strengthen and maintain your self-control.  The best way I’ve found to do this is to take one small bite of the elephant at a time.  Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they arise.  For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, come up with a list of healthy snacks you can eat when you get the craving for snacks.  It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier.  And that’s the whole point.  As your strength grows, you can take on bigger challenges.
Remember, life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Achieving your dreams can be a lot of work, even the second time around.  Be ready for it.  Read Getting Things Done for some practical guidance in this arena.

12.  Forget about impressing people.

So many people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know.  Or some variation thereof…
Don’t be one of these people.  It’s a waste of time.  And it’s probably one of the reasons you need a second chance in the first place.
Just keep doing what you know is right.  And if it doesn’t work, adjust your approach and try again.  You’ll get there eventually.
Photo by: Shoothead