Create Your Own Mission Statement for Your Personal and Professional Life by Denis Waitley

Two of life’s greatest tragedies are: Never to have had a great mission in life, and to have fully reached it so there is no challenge remaining.

Are you going where you want to go, doing what you want to do, and becoming who you want to become? These are the questions we must ask ourselves. Set some quiet time aside after you have finished this program and see the two yous in the mirror of your mind:

1. There is the reflection of the person you are today.

2. There is the image of who you will be in the future.

Looking at my own life, I am incredibly different in many respects from the person I was 10 years ago.

As you reflect on your past and anticipate the future, understand that virtually nothing you have experienced has been wasted. It all blends together into wisdom and knowledge, and creates your own unique brand of cultural diversity.

Action Idea: In your professional life, what is most important for you to achieve in the remainder of your career? In your personal life, what is most important for you to achieve in the remainder of your life? Find a close friend or associate you trust and network with often, and challenge each other to continuously strive to reach these objectives.

Passion in your purpose will help you take control of your life, and also give you one other advantage that is not widely recognized: About 10 more years of life, on average. Pursuit of a goal wears out very few people. But they rust out by the hundreds of thousands when their pursuit of happiness turns into a geriatric park. A job is something you do for money. A career is something you do because you have an inner calling to do it. You want to do it. You love doing it. You’re excited when you do it. And you’d do it even if you were paid nothing beyond food and the basics. You’d do it because it’s your life.

Be inspired to learn as much as you can, gain skills as much as you can, to find a cause that benefits humankind and you’ll be sought after for your quality of service and dedication to excellence. My nephew and niece, David and Heidi, at the ages of 30, had three little girls, ages 7, 5 and 2. On an anniversary some years ago, they went out dancing and the margarita she had must have been one powerful fertility drug. She became pregnant that night, and with no incidence of multiple births in our family, eight months later, she delivered quadruplet girls, prematurely. I hurried down to the Children’s Hospital in San Diego to get a photo opportunity and possible media coverage as “Uncle Denis of the Waitley Quads.” They told me to stand in the corner, saying I hadn’t contributed anything. The TV anchorwoman asked my niece Heidi how she felt. She said, “I feel a little tired. We’re going to need a new car.” They turned to my nephew David, whose eyes looked like burnt corks. “David, as the father, how does it feel to have seven little girls under the age of 7?” David replied, “We’re not going to need a new car, we’re never going anywhere again.” But that’s not the point of the story. In addition to seeing them as wonderful parents devoted to their seven little girls, my attention was focused on the neo-natal nurses caring for the newborn quadruplets, weighing between a pound and a half to two and a half pounds. Caring passionately for them like little birds in nests. Oblivious of quitting time. Not hearing the lunch bell at noon. Doing what they loved. Involved in helping improve the quality of life. We all can’t be Barbra Streisand or Jonas Salk. But we can chase our passion, not our pension. You’ll always do well, what you love most.

Action Idea: If you had the time and circumstances allowed, what is one of your most passionate desires in life you would like to pursue? It could be a new business idea, music, action, sports, or community service. Starting tomorrow, chase that passion a little bit at a time.

Good Things Come to Those Who Ask

by Jack Canfield

Good things come to those who ask!Asking for what you need is probably the most underutilized tool for people. And yet, amazing requests have been granted to people simply because they’ve asked for it!

Whether its money, information, support, assistance, or time, most people are afraid to ask for what they need in order to make their dreams come true.

They might be afraid of looking needy, ignorant, helpless, or even greedy. More than likely, though, it is the fear of rejection that is holding them back. Even though they are afraid to hear the word no, they’re already saying it to themselves by not asking!

Do you ask for what you want or are you afraid of rejection?

Consider this: Rejection is just a concept. There is really no such thing as rejection! You’re not any worse off by hearing no than you were before you asked. You didn’t have what you asked for before you asked and you still don’t, so what did you lose?

Being rejected doesn’t hold you back from anything. Only YOU hold yourself back. When you realize that there’s no merit to rejection, you’ll feel more comfortable asking for things. You may just need a bit of help learning how to ask for what you want.

How to Ask for What You Want

There’s a specific science to asking for and getting what you want or need in life. And while I recommend you learn more by studying The Aladdin Factor, here are some quick tips to get you started:

1. Ask as if you expect to get it. Ask with a positive expectation. Ask from the place that you have already been given it. It is a done deal. Ask as if you expect to get a “yes.”

2. Assume you can. Don’t start with the assumption that you can’t get it. If you are going to assume, assume you can get an upgrade. Assume you can get a table by the window. Assume that you can return it without a sales slip. Assume that you can get a scholarship, that you can get a raise, that you can get tickets at this late date. Don’t ever assume against yourself.

3. Ask someone who can give it to you. Qualify the person. Who would I have to speak to get… Who is authorized to make a decision about… What would have to happen for me to get…

4. Be clear and specific. In my seminars, I often ask, “Who wants more money in their life?” I’ll pick someone who raised their hand and give them a quarter, asking, “Is that enough for you?” “No? Well, how would I know how much you want? How would anybody know?”

You need to ask for a specific number. Too many people are walking around wanting more of something, but not being specific enough to obtain it.

5. Ask repeatedly. One of the most important Success Principles is the commitment to not give up.

Whenever we’re asking others to participate in the fulfillment of our goals, some people are going to say “no.” They may have other priorities, commitments and reasons not to participate. It’s no reflection on you.

Just get used to the idea that there’s going to be a lot of rejection along the way to the brass ring. The key is to not give up. When someone says “No”— you say “NEXT!” Why?

Because when you keep on asking, even the same person again and again…they might say “yes”…

…on a different day
…when they are in a better mood
…when you have new data to present
…after you’ve proven your commitment to them
…when circumstances have changed
…when you’ve learned how to close better
…when you’ve established better rapport
…when they trust you more
…when you have paid your dues
…when the economy is better
…and so on.

Kids know this Success Principle better than anyone. They will ask the same person over and over again without any hesitation. (can you relate?)

Getting a good perspective on rejection and learning how to ask will make a world of difference for you as you work toward your goals. Practice asking and you’ll get very good at it! You’ll even speed your progress by getting what you need, or improving yourself in order to get it later.

Make a list of what you need to ask for in all areas of your life, and start asking.

Remember, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE… if you dare to ask!

I’ll be back in two weeks with another edition of Success Strategies. Until then, see how you can discover ways to immediately implement what you learned from today’s message!

© 2010 The Canfield Training Group
All Rights Reserved.

Please . . . Return My Call – by Eric Slife

Getting prospects to return your calls is one of the most frustrating problems you experience. You can be 90% sure a deal will close in the next week and suddenly, silence. If you keep calling, you appear desperate and annoying, so what do you do?

Before you drive yourself completely crazy, take solace in the fact your competition faces the same problem. However, that alone won’t pay the bills. Before exploring some tactics that will help you get your calls returned, first ask yourself, “Why don’t prospects return my calls?”

Here are some of the more common reasons prospects don’t return calls:

Fear – Most people don’t like confrontation. They would rather completely avoid you, than deliver you bad news.

Too Busy – Prospects are bombarded by calls every day. Even though returning your call may only take 5 minutes, the thought of having to talk with a sales person when they have nothing new for you and a pile of work on their desk can seem like an hour. In addition, if they have 10 similar calls that day, it will take an hour.

Lack Urgency – If their problem hasn’t reached their pain threshold, they will lack a sense of urgency to fix it. Without pain, their problem isn’t a high priority.

No Value – If you are leaving messages that don’t provide additional value or specific reason for them to call you back, there is no point for them to call you. “I’m just calling to see if you got my brochure (or made a decision),” won’t stimulate someone to return your call.

Using You – If a company is just fishing for information, they will lose all interest once they receive what they want. Don’t give up information without getting something in return. If they want a price quote over the phone or a brochure, make them first agree to an appointment.

How do you get people to call you back?

Your first action with your prospect is to establish the ground rules and expectations. Your prospect needs to know it is okay to say, “No.”

For example: “Mr. or Ms. Prospect I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you. At the end of today’s meeting, my goal is for us to establish if my product or service is a good fit for you and your company.

In order to do this, I’d like to ask you some questions, so I better understand your business. Are you okay with this?

If at any time during our conversation today or future conversations it becomes clear to you that we aren’t a good fit, or you decide to go in a different direction, are you comfortable with telling me, “No”?

In addition, if at sometime I need you to return a call or reply to an email for additional information or to determine what you want next, what method do you prefer? Great, let’s get started.”

By doing this, you are laying the ground rules. If they don’t return your calls, politely remind them of this conversation. This doesn’t mean you email or call them every other day. Give them an opportunity to respond.

I suggest at least 4 business days between contacts.

Let’s say, you’ve laid the ground work, and your calls still aren’t returned, here are some specific techniques you can do to reach your prospect.

• Disengage Caller ID: Contact your phone company and ask them how to temporarily disengage your caller id. Let’s face it, we all screen our calls. If they still don’t pick up, don’t leave a message, but call back at a different time using the same technique.

• Use Email: Many times if a prospect can’t be reached over the phone, an email is your best alternative. I’ll often include the following in the Subject Line: John, regarding your request about . . .

• Fall on Your Sword: Don’t come across as upset or demanding. Take the opposite approach:

“Mr. or Ms. Prospect, unfortunately we’ve been unable to connect, and I’m starting to feel like I’m becoming an annoyance. I certainly don’t want to be a pain in your side, but I’m feeling like your situation has changed.

Please let me know what’s changed, and how I should best follow up with you. This politely let’s them know they haven’t returned your calls, and they appreciate your graciousness.”

• Contact The Receptionist: That’s right, call the receptionist. Let them know you have had trouble connecting. See if your prospect has been out of town. They may even have information that sheds light on the situation. You may uncover some important internal politics or changes that are happening.

• Go Over Their Head: Sometimes, you may need to make an end run. One catch. Have your manager make the call to the person over your contact. This way you still may be able to save face with your prospect.

Call at Higher Levels: Most sales people think they are speaking with the decision maker, when in reality they aren’t. Many times sales people will ask, “Are you the decision maker?” Unfortunately, too many people don’t want to admit they aren’t the decision maker.

To get a more accurate answer, ask them, “Who else besides you will be involved in the decision making process?”

If you start by calling the actual decision maker, you will receive more direct and honest answers. True decision makers don’t have time to play games. In addition, if they tell you to call someone lower in the organization, you can always use that as leverage if someone isn’t returning your calls. You might say something like:

“Mr. or Ms. Prospect I know you are busy. However, I promised _________ (their boss) I would provide them periodic updates, or information by this date. Unfortunately, I can’t provide them with this until I speak with you concerning…”

• Fire Your Contact: If everything else has failed, it’s time to fish or cut bait. Reach out one last time, to inform them you are throwing away their file. Believe it or not, this will get some people to realize it’s time to make a decision. If it doesn’t work, walk away knowing you’re better off spending time with real prospects.

One final thought. Sometimes deals fall through. In this case, the best thing you can do is to build top of mind awareness. Create your own drip marketing campaign, so when a company is prepared to purchase, you are at the top of their list, or at least number two. In addition, this is a great way to obtain referrals!

Establishing Dreams and Goals by Jim Rohn

Establishing Dreams and Goals by Jim Rohn

One of the amazing things we have been given as humans is the unquenchable desire to have dreams of a better life, and the ability to establish goals to live out those dreams. Think of it: We can look deep within our hearts and dream of a better situation for ourselves and our families; dream of better financial lives and better emotional or physical lives; certainly dream of better spiritual lives. But what makes this even more powerful is that we have also been given the ability to not only dream but to pursue those dreams, and not only to pursue them, but the cognitive ability to actually lay out a plan and strategies (setting goals) to achieve those dreams. Powerful!

What are your dreams and goals? This isn’t what you already have or what you have done, but what you want. Have you ever really sat down and thought through your life values and decided what you really want? Have you ever taken the time to truly reflect, to listen quietly to your heart, to see what dreams live within you? Your dreams are there. Everyone has them. They may live right on the surface, or they may be buried deep from years of others telling you they were foolish, but they are there.

So how do we know what our dreams are? This is an interesting process and it relates primarily to the art of listening. This is not listening to others; it is listening to yourself. If we listen to others, we hear their plans and dreams (and many will try to put their plans and dreams on us). If we listen to others, we can never be fulfilled. We will only chase elusive dreams that are not rooted deep within us. No, we must listen to our own hearts.

Let’s take a look at some practical steps/thoughts on hearing from our hearts on what our dreams are:

Take time to be quiet. This is something that we don’t do enough in this busy world of ours. We rush, rush, rush, and we are constantly listening to noise all around us. The human heart was meant for times of quiet, to peer deep within. It is when we do this that our hearts are set free to soar and take flight on the wings of our own dreams! Schedule some quiet “dream time” this week. No other people. No cell phone. No computer. Just you, a pad, a pen, and your thoughts.

Think about what really thrills you. When you are quiet, think about those things that really get your blood moving. What would you LOVE to do, either for fun or for a living? What would you love to accomplish? What would you try if you were guaranteed to succeed? What big thoughts move your heart into a state of excitement and joy? When you answer these questions, you will feel great and you will be in the “dream zone.” It is only when we get to this point that we experience what our dreams are!

Write down all of your dreams as you have them. Don’t think of any as too outlandish or foolish—remember, you’re dreaming! Let the thoughts fly and take careful record.

Now, prioritize those dreams. Which are most important? Which are most feasible? Which would you love to do the most? Put them in the order in which you will actually try to attain them. Remember, we are always moving toward action, not just dreaming.

Here is the big picture: Life is too short to not pursue your dreams. Someday your life will near its end and all you will be able to do is look backward. You can reflect with joy or regret. Those who dream, who set goals and act on them to live out their dreams, are those who live lives of joy and have a sense of peace when they near the end of their lives. They have finished well, for themselves and for their families.

Remember: These are the dreams and goals that are born out of your heart and mind. These are the goals that are unique to you and come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. Your specific goals are what you want to attain because they are what will make your life joyful and bring your family’s life into congruence with what you want it to be.

This article was excerpted from The Jim Rohn One-Year Success Plan. It’s time for a mid-year success checkup! Are you focused and on course for reaching your goals? Are you on the right track mentally, physically, spiritually, financially, relationally and otherwise? If you’re not on course, or you’ve lost momentum or you never even got started, we’ve got an incredible offer for you. Join The Jim Rohn One-Year Success Plan for ONLY $9.97 a month for the first 3 months, then ONLY $17.97 for each of the remaining 9 months! Plus, receive more than $300 in bonus materials, including a special bonus! Click here now for complete details or to enroll.

From Habits to Freedom – By Janice Russell

How many times have you heard someone say, “I never have enough time!”? Maybe you have even said it yourself. I hate to break the news to you…we all have the same amount of time: 24 hours in a day which means 168 hours per week. There is nothing that anyone can do to change it. For some people that is the bad news. There is good news, however. You are in charge of your time. Now I can already hear some of you arguing that isn’t true because the boss claims a lot of your time, family or friends want some of your time, there are personal life tasks to be taken care of, and that is all before you even think of doing something fun. But if you just take the time to read this article, I can promise you some tips to save some time later…and even create some new time.

It’s not an issue of managing time; it’s a matter of managing oneself. Since organizing is about replacing non-functioning habits with functioning ones, let’s look at some of the habits you need to develop in order to gain time.

Habit #1: Learn to say “no”.
For most people, the ability to say “no” is difficult if not impossible. For such a short word, it can be almost impossible to say. The best place to start is to develop a standard answer to give anyone who asks for your time. One example might be “Can I get back to you in a couple of days; I need to check my calendar before I commit to something new?” You have to create a statement that works for you and that starts to roll off your tongue the minute someone says, “Can you ____?” You may have to practice in front of a mirror until you feel comfortable. If someone indicates that they can’t wait, then be prepared to immediately decline. After you have had time to think about it, look at your calendar, or discuss it with someone, be as short and direct as you can and don’t be swayed by reasons they may use to get you to change your mind. Keep the words of Anne Lamott in mind, she says, “I live by the truth that “No” is a complete sentence.” Here are some statements that may be useful:

“My schedule is full for that (day, week, month, year, etc.)” You do not have to tell the person anything else. Even if they indicate that the task won’t take to long, be firm and repeat the statement.

“I need to decrease the amount of stress in my life by cutting back on tasks. I hope you understand.” Again, do not give any details. Just make the statement and move to another topic of conversation.

“My (spouse, family, friends, etc.) need my full attention at this time so I am unable to take on additional activities.” Don’t elaborate. Just maintain your stand.

Be aware, if you are a longtime “yes” person, there will be people who will be unhappy when you start saying “no”. Be strong. It takes awhile to develop a new habit and you are bound to meet outside resistance.

Habit #2: Silence the internal people-pleasing voices.
Part of saying “no” is the ability to stand firm with others. Another part of saying “no” is the struggle against the internal people-pleaser voices. Not everyone has these, so if you don’t, you can skip to habit three. For those who know exactly what I am talking about you’ve may experience fear that someone might reject you if you don’t say “yes”. You might feel like it is your duty to say “yes” to all requests; it is almost a driving force. Unfortunately people who are addicted to approval from others are usually disappointed because while it is possible to please lots of people, it is impossible to please everyone. There will always be someone who isn’t happy with us for some reason or another.

One of the best ways to quiet your internal people-pleaser is to empower yourself by answering the following questions truthfully:

1. “What stops me from saying “no” when I am asked to do something that I really don’t want to do?”
2. “What is the worst thing that could happen if I say “no”?

Resist the temptation to rationalize. For instance, when you ask yourself the second question, it is very tempting to say something like “that person will think less of me.” That is certainly not a “worst case scenario”. It may help you to write down your answers or to discuss them with someone. You won’t be an approval addict one day and then not one the next. You are forming a new habit. It is a process that will take time and may include the occasional setback.

Habit #3: Block out time on your schedule.
I am talking about literally blocking time on your paper or electronic calendar. Most people write down the time that an appointment starts. This is not enough. You need to write down the ending time if you know it or estimate it is you don’t, you also need to plan for transportation time. If I have an organizing session with a client that is from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., then I will mark my calendar to denote the actual session time but I will also indicate the time I need to leave my office and the time that I expect to arrive back at my office.

Noting “actual” appointments may seem pretty logical, but what about all of the other activities that fill your day? Whether we are talking about personal or professional tasks, it is best to allot a specific time for them to get accomplished. For some reason we tend to think that “everything will get done”. In reality, less than we think gets done because we don’t plan time a specific time to work on the project nor do we estimate the amount of time the job will take. Let’s take this article as an example. It doesn’t write itself. I actually mark a specific time in my calendar that says “write ezine”. But that isn’t all; I predict how much time it will take to compose. Remember the rule of thumb, estimate the amount of time and then double it. If you end up with extra time, great! But you will usually find that you are much closer to actuality when you double your guesstimate. Once you start doing this, you will probably notice that you have a very full calendar. Maybe you have more activities than hours (hence the reason many people don’t get enough sleep)! This actually leads us back to habit one about learning to say “no”.

Practice, practice, practice! That is the only way that you will create these new habits that will give you more free time and more freedom to decide how to use your time the best. It’s a process. It takes work. In the end you will be able to cherish the gift of time more freely.

** To comment on this article or to read comments about this article,
go here.

About the Author:

North Carolina’s first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Janice Russell, and her firm, Minding Your Matters® Organizing, have built a reputation for helping business and residential clients organize their space, items, documents, and time using the flexible structure principle™. Janice’s workshops on topics such as tackling the “no time” trap, perishing paper piles, and stopping stuff from being overwhelming are dynamic, informative, and practical. Minding Your Matters® is dedicated to helping people achieve organization with lasting results™ in their personal and professional lives. Janice is highly regarded within her industry. She is a Golden Circle Member of National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and past president of the North Carolina Chapter of NAPO. Janice is the author of the book Get Organized This Year! and the audio Stop Letting Stuff Overwhelm You. For more information, please visit http://www.mindingyourmatters.com or call 919-467-7058.

Manage Your Attention: Winning Tips

“Only one thing has to change for us to know happiness in our lives: where we focus our attention.

Greg Anderson

Staying “Inside the Boat”

Charlie Jones is a sportscaster who has covered several Olympic games in his long career.
At the 1996 games in Atlanta, he was assigned to announce the rowing, canoe¬ing and kayaking
events—a situation that left him less than thrilled, since it was broadcast at 7 a.m. and the venue
was an hour’s drive from Atlanta.

What Jones discovered, however, was that it ended up being one the most memorable sporting
events in his career, because he gained a chance to understand the mental workings of these
Olympic athletes. Preparing for the broadcast, Jones interviewed the rowers and asked them what
they would do in cases of rain, strong winds, or breaking an oar. The response was always the
same: “That’s outside my boat.”

After hearing the same answer again and again, Jones realized that these Olympic athletes had
a remarkable focus. In their attempt to win an Olympic medal, he wrote, “They were interested only
in what they could control—and that was what was going on inside their boat.”

Everything else was beyond their control and not worth expending the mental energy and attention
on—it would only distract them from their ultimate goal. Jones says that this single insight made
the event “by far the best Olympics of my life.”

We all have moments when we need to redirect our efforts—or those of others—“inside the boat” to
keep ourselves and our team focused. (We may even have to jump out of the boat a few times to
rescue those who have gone overboard and drifted away.) We stay inside our boat by managing our
attention instead of trying to manage time.

Attention!

You may have been told, perhaps after turning in that term paper three days late, that you had to learn to manage your time. But how do you manage time? Your parents and teachers never explained that, and for a good reason: time is not manageable.

No matter what you do, time marches on at its own pace—tick, tick, tick—and there’s nothing you can do to change that (unless you can go pretty close to the speed of light). Time is a great equalizer; it runs at the same speed for everybody, rich or poor, jet pilot or snail farmer. True, time seems to run faster when you’re out with friends, slower when you’re sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, but it’s actually chugging along constantly at its normal pace, exactly 168 hours a week, leaving behind a trail of unrecoverable seconds and minutes and hours.

The myth of time management never dies. Many people enroll in “time management” classes and learn techniques like making to-do lists. That’s fine. Lists can be useful, even satisfying. It’s great to experience that rush—Ahhhh!—as we check something off the list. However, by the end of the day, or the week, or the month, most people discover projects that are still not checked off and some projects they haven’t even started. That’s when frustration begins to set in. The time is gone, and there’s no way to get it back.

You can’t manufacture time, you can’t reproduce time, you can’t slow time down or turn it around and make it run in the other direction.

You can’t trade bad hours for good ones, either. About all the time management you can do is to cram as much productive work as possible into each day.

What you can manage, however, is your attention.

Attention is a resource we all possess. It’s a lot like time. In fact, as long as we are awake, we produce a continuous stream of it. But how effectively do we use this valuable resource? That depends on where we direct our attention and how intensely we keep it focused to produce the desired results.

You can’t manufacture time, you can’t reproduce time, you can’t slow time down or turn it around and make it run in the other direction.

Your attention reflects your conscious decisions about which activities will occupy your time.
The world we live in today is wired, and we are connected as never before, both at work and at home.
We are LinkedIn, Facebooked, beeped, Twittered, mapped, GPSed, Web Paged, My Spaced, emailed,
blogged, Blackberried, iPhoned, IMed, LexisNexised, Yahooed and Googled with real-time news alerts,
stock updates, and traffic reports. Earth-orbiting satellites know where we are every second, how
many inches we are from our favorite restaurant, and whether our air bags have deployed. Most of
us are so connected that we forget what it’s like to be alone with our own thoughts.

“Genius is nothing but continued attention.”

Claude-Adrien Helvétius

Most jobs today have multiple responsibilities that are constantly pull¬ing our attention in many directions. If it’s true that we can recognize when things need to be done and direct our attention to doing them, then why do we so often run out of time before getting the important things done? It’s because we let our attention get diverted. There’s usually a plausible reason—an unexpected event or other distraction that seemed important at the time—and we may be able to justify why we were not able to mark the task “done” on our checklist. Or maybe we say we just weren’t firing on all eight cylinders that day.

The problem is not time, and it’s not our to-do list. We knew how much time we had and we made

out a list of what we wanted to do with it. The problem is that our attention was reallocated to

something that was not leading us toward our goals.

So, you can’t manage your time. Well, then, how do you manage your attention? Here’s what winners do: they identify their priorities, and they know when to say no.

Attention is a resource we all possess…
as long as we are awake,
we produce a continuous stream of it.

“Time flies. It is up to you to be the navigator.”

Robert Orben

The Yellow Car Phenomenon

One way to manage attention is to harness the power of the Yellow Car Phenomenon.
This is a phenomenon that you have undoubtedly experienced and perhaps wondered about.
It happens when something unusual catches your attention—let’s say, you see a bright
yellow car driving by. You think to yourself, “hmm, I don’t see one of those very often.”

Later that same day, you see two more bright yellow cars. The next day, you see three more.
Has there been a sudden invasion of bright yellow cars? No, they’ve been there all along.
The difference is that you’ve suddenly become aware of them; you have a heightened awareness
of yellow cars. We call this the Yellow Car Phenomenon.

First-time expecting parents frequently experience this phenomenon. They have breezed by
hundreds of expectant mothers before, never paying much attention. Now that they’re pregnant,
doesn’t it seem like everybody else is too? Amazing, isn’t it?

It’s the power of personal attention. If your mind is ready to pay attention to something—new
people you want to meet, selling opportunities, new applications for an old product, ways to
save money, chances to learn a new skill—we tend to draw those things into our consciousness.
They have always been there, but now we’re paying attention to them.

Instead of paying attention to every single piece of information in our stimulus-rich world,
if we really look for those things we want in our life, that’s exactly what we will find. Need proof?
Just count how many yellow cars you notice today. Now—how many did you see yesterday?

Instead of paying attention to every single piece of information in our stimulus-rich world, if we really look for those things we want in our life, that’s exactly what we will find.

Strive to Prioritize

The first step in managing your attention is to precisely understand your priorities. There’s a big difference between managing your attention to accomplish priorities and checking off items on your to-do list. Our natural tendency is to do what is fun, convenient, or absolutely necessary at any given time—but your true priorities may not fit into any of those categories. In the absence of clearly defined priorities, you’ll find yourself involved in trivial pursuits. These will keep you from doing what needs to be done, but you’ll convince yourself that you’re accomplishing something.

It’s a bad idea to lie to yourself about how productively you’re manag¬ing your attention. Here’s a question to ask yourself that will help you stay on track: If I could accomplish only one thing right now, what would that one thing be? Your answer will quickly identify what your priority should be and where you should be directing your attention. Write the priority at the top of your to-do list and drop secondary priorities to the bottom—or completely off the list.

“Stay focused. Discover what is important… then stick to it.” Lee J. Colan

What are your priorities? Stated in simple terms, they are the goals that define your life: being promoted to a higher position, providing a good education for your children, living in a particular community, mastering a new skill. You set the priority and you manage your at¬tention toward that priority.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the World War II general who went on to become a popular president of the United States, used what is now called the Eisenhower Method for setting priorities. After identifying the tasks confronting him, he drew a square and divided it into four quadrants. One axis was a scale of important to unimportant; the other was urgent to not urgent. Tasks that fell into the unimportant/not urgent quadrant were dropped. Tasks in the important/urgent sector were accomplished immediately, and by Ike personally. Tasks in the unimportant/urgent quadrant were delegated, and those in the important/not urgent quadrant were assigned due dates and done later personally.

When using the Eisenhower Method, be sure to distinguish between “urgent” and “important” activities. Something that’s important is something that is beneficial and should be accomplished—if not right away, then eventually. Some¬thing that’s urgent is time sensitive, but not necessarily crucial.

As you identify priorities, be realis¬tic about what you can accomplish, and honest with yourself about what you truly want to achieve in your life and work. Where do you want to invest your attention? Although important tasks are your top priorities, most of the time these are not the things that appear to be urgent. And don’t be fooled into think¬ing that whatever seems urgent is worth taking your mind off your most important goal. Eisenhower’s mantra was “What’s important is seldom urgent, and what’s urgent is seldom important.”

Using the 4 Ds to Prioritize

Important Unimportant

Urgent Do it Delegate it

Not Do it Delegate it
Urgent

Know When to Say No

The sun pours out billions of kilowatts of energy, yet we can deflect most of its harmful effects with an ultra-thin application of sunscreen or a visor. On the other hand, a laser beam focusing only a few kilowatts of energy can cut a diamond in half or even eradicate certain types of cancer.

Laser-like clarity puts you in the winner’s circle. The most important decision to make is what is most important. Your time and energy are precious resources, and once you spend them, you don’t get them back. Therefore, saying yes to one thing always means saying no to something else. Winners create laser-like clarity by saying no to low-priority activities so they can say yes to the things they are really committed to—their top priorities.

Don’t think that saying no just means saying it to others. Most of the time winners say it to themselves—they sacrifice today (by saying no to something that might be fun or tempting) to gain tomorrow’s rewards (saying yes to their ultimate goal).

Your time and energy are precious resources, and once you spend them, you don’t get them back.

Knowing when to say no is not a once-in-a-while thing; it’s a daily winning habit. For example, if you spend two hours in a meeting that doesn’t help your team achieve its goals, you pay an opportunity cost by spending time on tasks that do not support your commitments. If you find yourself saying, “That was a waste of time,” “Boy, that didn’t add any value,” or “Why was I attending that meeting?”—these questions may be signs that you need to say no. The biggest winners consistently ask themselves, “Is this the best investment of my attention at this moment?” If it is, they get busy. If it’s not, they refocus their attention.

“If you try to be everything to everyone, you will be nothing to anyone.”

Unknown

When planning your goals, in addition to the things you need to do to achieve the goals, create a

“stop doing” list. Write down all activities, tasks, reports, meetings, and projects that do not directly
support your goals. This will help you focus your attention more effectively on the things that
are most important to you and your team—whether it’s at work, at home, or in the community.

So why do we find ourselves saying yes when we should be saying no? Because we’ve been taken
in by several social myths.

Myth 1: If you say no, you’ll hurt people’s feelings.
Reality: You have no control over another person’s feelings. If you’re honest in telling the person
what your priorities are and why you have to say no, most of the time she will respect that.
She would rather hear “Sorry, I can’t do it” up front rather than “I’m sorry, I didn’t get to it” later.
Just tell the truth.

Myth 2: I cannot say no to my subordinates or my boss.
Reality: Actually, you can. You are ultimately responsible for achieving results, and if it’s clear
that the activity your subordinates or supervisors are suggesting will keep you from accomplishing
your priorities, you need to say no and be clear on why you are saying no. If you explain your
priorities and they’re not in line with the priorities of your subordinates or your boss, something
is out of sync.

Myth 3: If I say no to this person, I could irreparably damage the relationship.
Reality: If saying no could damage the relationship, your relationship is probably pretty toxic
already. Relationships are damaged more by misunderstandings and unspoken perceptions
than by disagreements. If you are open and honest, chances are you’ll be able to work through
an issue of disagreement.

There is great power in understanding your priorities and maintaining a laser focus.

Effectively managing your attention boils down to self-discipline (which, according to former

coach Bum Phillips, is “the only discipline that lasts”). There is no set formula. What works

for someone else may not work for you because your priorities are different. However, if you

know your priorities, focus your attention, and consistently make the best use of your time,

you will discover that the right things will get done.

When planning your goals, in addition to the things you need to do to achieve the goals, create a “stop doing” list.

Manage Your Attention: Winning Tips

à Pay attention to your “Yellow Cars.” Focus your mind on the things you want  more of in your life, and you’ll find them more often within your reach. à  Learn to focus your attention purposefully. à Write down five current challenges you have on your plate.

à Apply the Eisenhower method to the challenges you’ve listed. Next to each, write “do,” “delegate,” “defer,” or “dump.”

à Create a “stop doing” list. Identify three tasks you could quit doing so that you could focus more attention on your top priorities.

info

buy the book

Get more details or buy a copy of Colan and Cottrell’s

Winners Always Quit.

About the AuthoRs

Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. is president of The L Group, Inc. He is a leadership advisor, speaker and author of 10 rapid-read books. Lee’s best-seller is titled Sticking to It: The Art of Adherence (yes, we must quit the good things so we can stick to the great things). Learn more at theLgroup.com.

David Cottrell, president and CEO of CornerStone Leadership Institute, is the author of more than 25 books, including the perennial best-selling Monday Morning Leadership. Learn more at CornerStoneLeadership.com.

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5 Top Tips for Moving Past Procrastination Into Action – By Tambre Leighn

Procrastination is a huge energy sucker, yet it is something even the highly motivated succumb to at times. Personally, I find I tend to do it when I am beginning a new project. I tell myself that a portion of the procrastination time is actually time I need to allow my creative ideas to percolate.

Perhaps there is some truth to this but I’ll play devil’s advocate now and ask, how much easier and more productive would my life be if I didn’t hold this belief? What if I could just plop myself down at the start of a project, a book chapter, or a workshop outline and get to the work?

There are benefits I get out of procrastinating. It depends on the goal as to what purpose the procrastination is fulfilling. It can be fear of failure. If I don’t start something, then there is no chance of failing at it so it is safer not to begin. Or perhaps I’ve used my imagination to build up a task into a much larger project than it actually is by over-thinking. If that’s the case, the idea of starting is overwhelming because I feel it will take so much time and energy.

I know there are instances when I have spent more time thinking about a task, feeling stuck, worrying about it, etc. than it actually ended up requiring to finish it. And when it was done, I felt a bit foolish for wasting so much time. So…how do you move past the procrastination phase and jump into action? Here are my 5 Top Tips…

1. Get it out of your head and onto the page!
The mind is a terrible thing to clutter. Whether you use post its, the computer or your PDA, write out a list of the tasks and projects you have in play at the moment. When I have a lot going on and need to balance the projects in different areas of my life, I take out colored recipe cards and assign a color to each key area — finance, career, health & well being, relationships, fun, etc. then write whatever tasks need completing in each area on the corresponding color card. I can then put the tasks in order of priority and notice where the balance is missing…too many career and finance cards at the top of the pile with all the fun or health & well being at the bottom and I know I need to re-adjust my priorities.

2. Create your Top Ten Priorities of the Week List.
This simple system is courtesy of my own coach, Luke Iorio from iPEC (iPEC.com). He helped me get past the overwhelm of everything that needs to get done when you have your own coaching business with this tip. Before the end of Friday, I create a list of the ten most important things I must accomplish the next week to move my business forward, then I put an asterisk beside the top three. I am not allowed to work on the other items until the top three are complete. This keeps me focused and on purposed.

3. Impose time limits on your tasks.
Go through the list you made of your top ten priorities and then put reasonable time estimates on how long you believe you need to complete the task…then stick to those like they are deadlines. It is true that a task expands to fill the time allotted so be strict with yourself.

4. Create an accountability system.
Most people work better with a deadline in place. Once you’ve imposed your time limits for your tasks, you need to create a way to be held accountable. Enroll someone to help you with accountability and support you. Working with a coach is one of the most effective methods for this. I chose a coach who inspires me, believes in me and sees me for my highest potential. Hitting my weekly goals is a way of demonstrating to me and to him that I can absolutely work at the levels we’ve set for me together. If you’re not ready yet to hire a coach, then partner up someone who also wants to move past procrastinating on his or her projects and do a weekly check in. Group coaching is another way to create an affordable accountability system. You can check out my coaching programs (put in link) for upcoming groups or contact me about creating your own group.

5. Identify the underlying purpose to each task.
Connecting to the core value the task is related to or the feeling that the task generates will help you move into warp speed, past any procrastination blocks. If your goal is to lose weight and your task is to go to the gym for an hour three times a week, then identify what completing the task will give you…more energy, better health, stress reduction. If these things mean something to you then you’ve identified a core value.

Now look at the feelings shift completing this task can generate…more positive outlook, better body image, more empowered. When I connected the daily task required to expand my coaching business to my mission statement, I could tap into this energy and be passionate about completing the items on my to do list. I love getting up each day now knowing the work I am doing all stems from of being completely committed to people uncovering their own brilliance so they may lead extraordinary lives. This also helps me stay on target. Before I add an item to my task list, I make certain that it is somehow moving my mission statement forward.

So get off to a great start this week and put these steps to work for you. It can take up to 30 days to integrate a new habit so if you fall off the wagon and stray from these five steps, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Go back to the list to get re-focused. Ready, set…GO!

** To comment on this article or to read comments about this article, go here.
About the Author:

Tambre Leighn, M.A., Ct.H., CPC is a certified professional life coach (coachingbytambre.com) specializing in guiding clients through periods of major transition (career change, divorce, chronic illness diagnosis) and grief recovery. She also works with those facing mid-life challenges to uncover their own brilliance so they may lead the extraordinary lives they were meant to have.

Releasing the Brakes

by Jack Canfield

Release the BrakesHave you ever been driving your car and realized that you’d left the emergency brake on?

Of course.  We all have.  But when we discover the brake is on — do we press harder on the gas pedal?  Of course not!

We simply release the brake… and with no extra effort we go faster.

Going through life is a lot like driving a car.  But unfortunately, most people drive through life with their psychological emergency brake on.  They hold on to negative images of themselves… or suffer the effects of highly emotional events they haven’t yet released.  To cope, they stay in a comfort zone entirely of their own making.

And when they try to achieve their goals, these negative images and preprogrammed comfort zones always cancel out their good intentions—no matter how hard they try.

Call them “blocks” or “limiting beliefs” or “being stuck” — but these images and past hurts are nothing more than driving through life with the emergency brake on.

Successful people, on the other hand, continually move beyond their comfort zone — not by using increased willpower, but by replacing their beliefs about themselves and changing their self image.

They release the brakes — and, just like a car, they instantly go faster.

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Think of your comfort zone as a prison you live in – a largely self-created prison. It consists of the collection of can’ts, musts, must nots, and other unfounded beliefs formed from all the negative thoughts and decisions you have accumulated and reinforced during your lifetime.

The good news is that you can change your comfort zone. How? In three different ways:

  1. You can use affirmations and positive self-talk to affirm having what you want, doing what you want, and being the way you want.
  2. You can create powerful and compelling new internal images of having, doing, and being what you want.
  3. You can simply change your behaviors

All three of these approaches will begin to shift you out of your old comfort zone.

STOP RE-CREATING THE SAME EXPERIENCE OVER AND OVER!

An important concept that successful people understand is that you are never stuck. You just keep re-creating the same experiences over and over by thinking the same thoughts, maintaining the same beliefs, speaking the same words, and doing the same things.

Too often, we get stuck in an endless look of reinforcing behavior, which keep us stuck in a constant downward spiral.

It goes like this: Our limiting thoughts create images in our mind… and those images govern our behavior… which in turn reinforces that limiting thought.

This is known as the Self-Talk Endless Loop.

As long as you keep complaining about your present circumstances, your mind will focus on it. By continually talking about, thinking about, and writing about the way things are, you are continually reinforcing those very same neural pathways in your brain that got you to where you are today. You are continually sending out the same vibrations that will keep attracting the same people and circumstances that you have already created.

To change this cycle, you must focus instead on thinking, talking, and writing about the new reality you want to create. You must FLOOD your unconscious with thoughts, images and ACTION that match your desired reality.

Then suddenly, instead of your outcomes being predetermined by an endless cycle of reinforced self-doubt and self-talk, you’re free to pursue your goals with new determination and confidence.

If releasing the brakes is something you need to do, realize that it’s difficult to do by yourself.

We need outside influences to break through our habitual ways of thinking and behaving to assist us in restructuring our beliefs, releasing our repressed emotions and connecting with our true selves.

Two of the most powerful methods for doing this are large group awareness trainings and therapy.  If I were to attribute my incredible level of success to any one thing, it would be the hundreds of personal development seminars I’ve attended over the past 40 years.

If you’ve discovered that you’ve been recreating the same outcomes, scenarios, experiences and endless loop of not getting what you want, I’d like to help you break free from this downward spiral.

In fact, one of the most important things I do for participants in my Breakthrough to Success training week is to help them identify these “blocks” that govern their behavior — then replace those blocks with new thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and patterns.

Of course, there are literally hundreds of individuals and organizations that conduct seminars all over the world. Some are better than others, and in my experience, about 20% of them are highly competent and effective.

Visit their websites, call and talk to them, attend their guest events, and then make a decision about which one feels right for you.

The impact in all areas of your life will be incredible.

* * *

I’ll be back in two weeks with another edition of Success Strategies. Until then, see how you can discover ways to immediately implement what you learned from today’s message!

© 2010 Jack Canfield

The Top Ten Reasons NOT to Plan for Retirement – By Allen Neuenschwander

If you’ve ever seen David Letterman you know he’s made the Top Ten list famous. The guy’s been doing the same routine for more than 15 years and it’s still the most popular part of his show.

My list is different, and probably not what you’d expect from one of the most successful Financial Advisors and Retirement Coaches in the Houston area. These are the most common excuses I hear for NOT planning smart for retirement.

Reason #10: “I’m too busy”
I can’t tell you how often I hear this excuse. So many people want to plan for a better retirement, but they don’t have time. They think they’ll take care of it tomorrow or the day after that… and before they know it, several years have gone by. The best advice I can give you is to stop procrastinating and start planning today.

Reason #9: “It’s too soon”
I don’t know how this happened, but many people have adopted the notion that you don’t have to start planning for your retirement until you’re almost there. This is totally incorrect. The truth is, the sooner you start planning, the better chance you stand of having the kind of retirement you want. It’s never too soon. Many people start planning in their early twenties!

Reason #8: “It’s too late”
If you’re already near or past your retirement eligibility date, you may think that whatever you’ve got is what you’re stuck with and it’s too late to do anything about it. Think again. If you’re unsure of what your options are, speak to a professional. Even if you’ve already retired, it’s important to consider how you’re receiving income and how long it will last. It’s never too late to revise your income distribution strategy.

Reason #7: “I don’t need to”
I’ve heard this excuse many times and it always baffles me. Many people think that because they’ve been diligent about contributing to a savings account, they’re all set. While saving for retirement is good, you also need a plan for income distribution once you enter retirement. Are you certain that what you’re saving will be enough? Have you considered your distribution plan? What about taxes? What about inflation? And are you sure your money will be properly invested? There may be other, better options for you and it may prove worthwhile to look into them.

Reason #6: “I don’t have enough money to get started”
This excuse seems marginal at first glance, but there is some truth behind it. You need to have money to save or invest money. However, unless your bills are exactly equal to or greater than your net income, you DO have enough to get started. Starting small is better than not starting at all, and if you plan well, you’ll eventually have more to work with.

Reason #5: “My finances are a mess”
This all the more reason to seek out an advisor who can help you sort through and understand your assets. Perhaps you have a 401(k) or several 401(k)s from former employers that has not been rolled over, a couple of savings accounts, a trust from a deceased relative, some stocks that your parents bought in your name when you were younger … a circumstance like this can be confusing, but leaving it as it is won’t improve the situation. Consider speaking with an advisor who can look at your complete financial picture, help you to understand it, and help you to develop a plan to make your “financial mess” work for you.

Reason #4: “The Government will take care of me”
The bottom line is this … there’s a chance Social Security may not be available when you retire, and even presuming it is, it may not be enough to provide your ideal retirement income. If you’re planning to retire on Social Security alone, I would advise you to create a back-up plan at the very least.

Reason #3: “Between my savings and my 401(k), I’ll be fine”
Saving for retirement without an income distribution plan can be a mistake. How will you use that money once you have it? And while you may think you’ll have everything you’re going to need, have you considered inflation? Taxes? And furthermore, some people are living past 90. Will your assets last that long? If you outlive your income, what then? It’s a good idea to look ahead and plan lifelong income.

Reason #2: “I don’t want to think about it”
Many people procrastinate simply because the thought of discussing financial matters (or growing old) is unappealing. I can certainly understand that. But consider this … if you bite the bullet now and put a firm plan in motion, you may not have to think about it again for quite some time.

Reason #1: “I don’t know how”
If you knew everything there was to know about financial planning, you’d probably be a financial advisor yourself. While it is possible to do everything on your own, that generally involves a great deal of research and a huge ongoing time commitment. If you’re putting off retirement planning because you don’t know how, consider speaking to a professional who does.

There are tons of excuses to avoid retirement planning, but are any of them good enough to sacrifice your future? Start planning. You won’t regret it.

** To comment on this article or to read comments about this article, go here.
About the Author:

Allen Neuenschwander is a principal of Outlook Financial Group, LLC. Allen is recognized as the Houston Retirement Coach. Allen has been helping individuals invest intelligently, plan for retirement and avoid financial crises for over 23 years. Allen is also a registered representative and securities are offered through SMH Capital, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.

Two Key Questions for Maximum Effectiveness

By: Brian Tracy

There are two questions that you can ask on a regular basis to keep yourself focused on getting your most important tasks completed on schedule. The first question is “What are my highest value activities?”

Put another way, what are the most important tasks you have to complete to make the greatest contribution to your organization? To your family? To your life in general?

Think it Through Carefully
This is one of the most important questions you can ask and answer. What are your highest value activities? First, think this through for yourself. Then, ask your boss. Ask your coworkers and subordinates. Ask your friends and family. Like focusing the lens of a camera, you must be crystal clear about your highest value activities before you begin work.

Flight Plan
“Flight Plan–The Real Secret of Success”

You need a flight plan to succeed. I’m always amazed at how many people fail because they just don’t have a plan. And having a plan isn’t enough.

Just like an airline pilot you must make course corrections to arrive at your destination–your goals. Click for more >>

Keep Yourself Focused
The second question you can ask continually is, “What can I and only I do, that if done well, will make a real difference?”

This question comes from Peter Drucker, the management guru. It is one of the best of all questions for achieving personal effectiveness. What can you, and only you do, that if done well, can make a real difference?

This is something that only you can do. If you don’t do it, it won’t be done by someone else. But if you do it, and you do it well, it can really make a difference to your life and your career. What is your answer to this question?

Every hour of every day, you can ask yourself this question and there will be a specific answer. Your job is to be clear about the answer and then to start and work on this task before anything else.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, make a list of everything you do at work and then select your most valuable tasks from that list.

Second, resolve to start in on your highest value task and stay at it until it is 100% complete.

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