Sunday, March 30, 2008

Easy Ways to Exercise

Exercising doesn't always have to be as intentional as setting aside an hour of your day and going to the gym. Try some of these tips to fit exercise into even the busiest days.

Take the stairs
Rake leaves, shovel, or garden
Take a long phone call standing up
Ride your bike instead of driving
Stand up to change the channel when you watch tv
Play with your kids

Comfortable Misery

The story goes that a salesman walked up to the front porch of an old customer to find him sitting on his porch. Next to him was an old dog that moaned once about every 10 seconds. When the salesman asked the man why his dog was moaning, the man replied that he’d been lying on a rusty nail all morning. When asked why the dog would not get up to move, the old man replied simply “I guess it doesn’t hurt enough yet.”

Is there some pain in your life that causes you strife, anguish and stress? What is it that makes you uncomfortable? Now that you have identified that, why are you still doing it? The pain of our situation has to be great enough to set us free from the things that we don’t like in life.

Far too many people are working at jobs they despise. If you let yourself get too comfortable in your misery you will never be able to do anything about it but complain. Do yourself, your spouse and your family a favor and make a change today!

First, start by taking a look inside and discover who you truly are. You cannot expect to simply change jobs and be happy. Find our how you are uniquely gifted and how your values, dreams and passions align with your life’s calling. The personality profile is our most popular product and is an invaluable tool in discovering your unique gifts as well as career matches. I use it with every Career & Life Coaching client.

Second, develop a plan to move into the work that you love. Whether that involves developing or fine-tuning your resume to work for another company, or creating your own business, do it with a plan. You have to have a strong amount of faith through the entire process, but without a clearly written plan, you are only asking for trouble.

Do not simply quit what you are doing now. I am not a fan of burning bridges and leaving everything behind. There may be a strong transition period in your life that involves doing a few things all at once. With a strong plan in place, I know your can meet and exceed your goal of doing the work you love!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

How to Choose a Gym

While it's not necessary to have a gym membership in order to stay in shape, some people prefer to have one and are willing to spend the money. Here are the top things to look for when choosing the right gym for you.

Location If your gym is more than 10 minutes away, studies show you likely won’t go. Make the location the number one thing you look for and the membership will probably be worth it.

Hours This is almost as important as location. You know when the most likely time is that you’ll go and you need to make sure your gym is open at that time.

Cost Don’t get a membership at a gym you can’t afford. In addition to the monthly fee, there may also be other costs associated with the membership, such as a sign-up fee. You may even have to pay for parking at some gyms. Be sure to do your research before you sign any contracts.

Equipment and classes Most people have an idea of what they like to do at the gym, whether it’s the elliptical trainer or step aerobics classes. Look into what each gym offers and make sure they have what you want. It’s also important to note the wait times for the equipment. If you have to spend most of your time waiting to use something, you’re less likely to continue going.

Atmosphere At the very least, be sure to take a tour of the gym before signing up. You can also ask the sales person about the demographics, which might be important if you’re looking for a crowd that’s around your age or gender. Don’t feel pressured to sign up without trying it out. Many gyms give weekly passes so you can get a feel for what the gym is really like.

Before you choose a gym, make sure that you are committed to working out. Explore the reasons why you want to join a gym and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Want some more motivation? Print off this fitness contract and fill it out. Hang it on your refrigerator or bulletin board and you’ll be reminded daily about your commitment to go.

Tip: Some health insurance companies reimburse for part of your gym memberships. Be sure to look into all possible discounts.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Preventing Memory Loss

A big concern as people age is memory loss. While some memory loss is normal, there are things you can do to control and prevent much of it.

Exercise your mind
Continue to challenge yourself to learn new skills and practice those you already have. These include crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Scrabble, or putting together puzzles. These may help produce new connections between brain cells.

Take care of your health
While this can encompass many things, the most important are getting enough sleep, manage your blood pressure and cholesterol, eat a nutritious diet, and maintain a healthy weight.

There have been many studies recently on how socializing improves your memory. A recent one suggests that talking to another person for just 10 minutes a day can improve your memory. This may be just as effective as doing mental exercises.

Reduce stress
The more stressed and anxious you are, the more likely you are to have poor memory as you age. Find ways to cope with stress and practice those techniques.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Overcoming Adversity

Nick's story is very interesting. He doesn't have arms and hands and only 1 foot that is of any use to him.

However, it's simply amazing what he can do and where he gets his strength from. Instead of sitting around all day feeling sorry for himself, he travels the world speaking to groups of a 100,000 at a time, not about his disabilities, but about his abilities.

What's your downfall? Are you letting it affect your life, or are you using it to your advantage?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Socializing is Good For Your Health

I sometimes forget how good it feels to just get together with a friend or a group of friends and how beneficial that can be for my health. A lot of times people list getting together to socialize on the bottom of their priorities because there are so many other things that take precedence.

My days are very stressful, as I'm sure a majority of people's are. When I don't take time for myself at the end of the day I never have a chance to unwind and de-stress. It never ceases to amaze me how good I feel after I get together with a friend.

If you aren't taking enough time in your life to spend time with people you love, make it a priority today. Even if you start off by meeting up with someone once every two weeks, you'll immediately see the difference.

$49,000 in College Scholarships

Many of the clients I talk to on a daily basis have questions about funding college for one or more of their children. Regardless of if you have done a great job saving for your children's education or you have no clue as to how to pay for their first textbook, you need to check out N2 College Consulting.

Jill Howell is a Certified School Counselor and the founder/owner of N2 College. Her average high school senior in 2007 received almost $49,000 in college scholarships! Jill has helped college bound students receive over $4,500,000 in scholarships!

Jill Howell works with clients from around the country to help them earn as much scholarship funds as they are capable of. Jill can assist with any part of the admissions process as well as the career "pre-planning thru transition" stages that come later for students.

The mother of recent client Anna Smith had this to say, "It is reassuring for me, a homeschooling mother, to have someone of Jill's caliber to advise me about all the details that go into the college entrance process. I could have really used her help with my first child. N2College has finally come along, and our time with Jill has definitely paid off with Anna. Anna applied for and received a nice scholarship last year. But this year, with Jill's help, the same school tripled the amount they offered last year. Comparing last year's award to this year's award, for each dollar we spent on Jill's consultation Anna reaped $232 on a four-year scholarship."

Jill Howell and N2 College are fully endorsed by Lukas Coaching to help you lessen the burden of paying for college. We have arranged a special offer for Lukas Coaching Reader's Group members.

For a limited time only, Jill is offering the first 10 clients 50% off any program you chose. Simply contact Jill toll-free at (877) 526-6370 and mention Lukas Coaching.

The cost of a higher education is quickly escalating, so let Jill help you through the process and save you money at the same time!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Time to Jump?

How do you know when it's officially time to jump for the job you either hate or know deep down you weren't meant for, to your true calling and passion? There is certainly quite a bit of faith involved in making the decision, but it comes down to the best laid plans and some good counsel.

Praying certainly is beneficial, but I can't recall a single time that God has ever spoken directly to me. Rather, I believe that he strategically speaks to me through others. When making any big decision, I always seek the advice of others. And not just one other person, but many people.

Planning during this stage is very important. Some think that planning requires giving up all spontaneity, but I tend to believe the exact opposite. Planning allows me to know exactly what I can and cannot do in my life.

When it all comes down to it, good counsel and your best plans may still require a tremendous leap of faith. If most of the signs point to yes, then it may be your time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Going Through the Motions

Do you spend your life just "going through the motions?" I've always been a very purposeful person, but lately I've discovered that I'm not getting much out of going to the gym. I leave there sort of in a daze, and come home almost forgetting that I've just been there.

There was once a time when I would be so tired from the gym I couldn't function the rest of the night. That's a good kind of tired because you know you've spent your time wisely. Now I go about the rest of my day as if I never stepped even foot out my front door.

The lesson here is to be more purposeful with the things you do. If you're putting in the effort to actually get to the gym, make it worth your while. Focus on the motions and feel yourself getting stronger. Give 100% when you are there and push yourself to do just a little bit more.

If this isn't working and you're still feeling like your workouts aren't producing results, you may just be in a rut. Try changing the exercises your doing. This might be your excuse to try that new machine you keep looking at.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Change in Routine

When I get into a routine I sometimes forget that there are other ways of doing things. Usually, the result of being in a routine means boredom. Take working out for example. I used to go to the gym first thing in the morning. That was before I discovered how relaxing it is to sit at home and drink coffee while catching up on emails. In about the last year or so I began going at night instead.

When I'm at the gym I do 30 minutes of cardio followed by about 45 minutes of strength training. Every once in awhile I throw in a spinning class. This routine got old after about three months, yet I continued to do it. Continuing with a plan that is not exciting for you is a recipe for disaster. You are much more likely to just quit, rather than change things up.

Think about your diet. What if every day for three months you ate nothing but healthy food. I bet you would be pretty bored and eventually over-indulge in less healthy items. Instead of continuing to do things that aren't making you happy, change your routine. The result of this will also mean a more effective workout because your body gets tired of the same thing too.

I recently started my workouts with a 20 minute cardio warmup, followed by 15 minutes of weights, 10 minutes of cardio, 15 minutes of weights, the last 10 minutes of cardio, and 15 more minutes of weights. Now I don't get nearly as bored as I used to at the gym.

If you ask people who go to the gym what time is most effective for them, many of them will say first thing in the morning. Yet it's hard to push ourselves to start our days that way. Try going to the gym in the morning, just one day in the next week, and see how it makes you feel. If you hate it, don't do it again. When you're at the gym, try changing your routine from the norm. Mix in different exercises and vary your workout times. You may find that changing your routine does wonders for you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Don't Let This Happen to You

Today, more workers are withdrawing money from their retirement accounts in the form of 401(k) hardship withdrawals and loans than ever before. Merrill Lynch sampled applications filed in January, 2008 and found the primary reason was to prevent foreclosure or eviction.

While there are many reasons for families to come up short when it comes to their mortgage payments, we must keep a few things in perspective.

First of all, the mortgage must remain one of the most important payments that are made each month. While usually the biggest payment, the mortgage payment is far more important than any credit card or unsecured personal loan. Do not make the mistake of being foreclosed on but current on your Visa card.

If you cannot make your mortgage payment one month, chances are you cannot truly afford your home. Your mortgage payment should be no more than 25% of your family's monthly take-home pay. The loan should also be no more than a 15 or 20-year fixed-rate.

I often hear, "But I cannot make the payments at that rate." If this is the case, then simply stated, you cannot afford your home! When it comes down to it in the end, we are all responsible for the choices we make.

It is time we opened our eyes to our own problems. We seem to always want bigger, better and more, but our incomes normally do not rise as fast as our wants.

For everything but a home, if you cannot pay with cash, then you probably cannot afford to buy. Children do what feels good; adults devise a plan and follow it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Take a Vacation

I am sure you have all heard at least one reason why you need to take vacation. Some reasons include spending quality time with your family, taking a break from work, or to simply regrouping so you can go back to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. So why do so many Americans’ vacation days go unused and how much is this trend costing you?

In 2007 alone, Americans failed to take an estimated 438 million vacation days. The projected cost of these unused days is roughly $60 billion, based on average hourly wages. What you may not realize is that by leaving unused vacation days on the table, you could end up paying later.

Let’s look at a variety of situations that might take place as a result of unused vacation days, and what the annual cost associated with those things are.

Work stress: In dealing with stress you end up munching on unhealthy food to make you feel better. Result: Yearly visits to your cardiologist, costing you $624.

Lack of sleep: Lost downtime means lost sleep, which leads to weight gain. Result: Using a personal trainer twice a week, costing you $7,800

Depression: Women who take time off less than once every two years are more depressed than those who take time off twice or more per year. Result: Prozac, costing you $1,920.

Loss of energy: By not breaking out of the routine you are less productive. Result: A triple-shot grande latte every day, costing you $984.

Vitamin D deprivation: Exposure to artificial light rather than sunlight robs your body of vitamin D, which protects your bones and lowers your risk of cancer. Result: Daily supplements of vitamin d, costing you $24.

Total cost: $11,352. I bet you could take a pretty nice vacation for that chunk of change. Even if you do not realize these costs and have the money outright for a vacation, there are plenty of things you can do close to home that do not have to cost thousands of dollars.

If you are not using all of your vacation each year make a pact right now to begin doing so. You will be amazed at how different you feel when you return to the office feeling rested, energized, and full of new ideas.

Don't Give to Get

Rather give because it is the right thing to do and you enjoy helping others out. If you give out of the wrong spirit, you will never prosper.

Giving somehow changes you from the inside out. It makes you a better person and it helps those around you.

My wife and I have been blessed beyond measure simply because we love to give. I am passionate about helping those around me and I believe that God blesses us in return.

You will have better relationships and more wealth as a result.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Obesity related costs

In the recent 2/1/08 edition of the Austin Business Journal, it was reported that because hospitals are now treating patients who are increasingly obese, they need specialized equipment like floor-mounted toilets and oversized beds with built-in scales, stretchers & wheelchairs that allow them to work with patients safely and efficiently. It’s sad to think that soon this new equipment will become the norm and people won’t even think twice about being so overweight.

Not only that, but the super-sized equipment can be double or triple the cost of standard equipment, thus driving up the costs of care. I don't argue with the fact that hospitals need to invest in new equipment in order to best care for people, but do you think this contributes to a thought process that tells society it's okay to be so overweight?

If over sized beds and equipment soon become more normalized, will be overweight or obese become the accepted norm?

Activity Calculator

I'm always wondering how many calories I burn while doing specific activities. It's not always easy to figure out because many of the websites I go to do not tailor information to my body weight.

This website has a great tool at the very bottom of the page where you can enter your weight and the amount of time you did an activity and it will generate an entire page of activities to choose from!

You may be surprised either at how little or how many calories you are actually burning.

Jobs Plunge

USA Today reported last week that employers cut jobs for the second month in a row. This week they report that 26% of employers are set to hire within the next 3 months.

The coming recession calls for a weakening job market according to many sources, but unemployment is at a very low level and continues to fall. The government simply has no way of tracking those who have quit looking for work.

The opportunities abound in today’s market. I talk to people all the time that have become contractors, independent workers, consultants, or opened their own businesses. Slowly, people are becoming aware that company provided retirement, health insurance and other benefits have a price that can actually be calculated. Many are realizing they can make more money on their own while paying out of pocket for their own benefits.

We all need to be open to the new possibilities in today’s job market. Do not be left behind when your company downsizes, rightsizes, or eliminates your position. Be ready to make a move, even before it happens.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Your Vision Determines Your Income

Wayne Gretzky was once asked what made him a great hockey player. He simply stated that instead of going to where the puck was, he went to where the puck would soon be. It goes without saying that we will soon be at the place that we spend the most amount of time focusing on in our minds. Where is it that your mind is focused?

I spend a great deal of time with my clients focused on the future. Where is it that they want to be in the next 6 - 12 months, and even longer, say 10 - 20 years? It is not until a vision is determined that we can work on developing a plan to arrive in that place.

What is your vision? Are you focused solely on tomorrow, or are you focused on some point in the future. While today and tomorrow cannot be neglected, you must focus on where you would like to be in the future. If you have no vision you will likely be exactly where you are today. If you earn $45,000 per year as an assistant and have no vision you will probably be making within 5 – 10% of your current income in the same job in 10 years.

It also goes without saying that if you have a vision for the future that includes the launch of your own business with an income of 4 – 5 times what you currently earn, then you probably will be making more than your current salary at that point. While you may not be at 5 times as much, won’t it be worth it to be doing something you actually enjoy while earning more money at the same time?

Determine today why you are trying to become debt-free or saving an emergency or retirement fund. Your motivation to reach your goals will be much higher when you know the reason you are doing it.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
- Proverbs 29:18

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sweating not necessary

There’s good news for those of us, including me, who don’t sweat much when you exercise. The amount you sweat does not determine how good of a workout you’re getting. There are many factors that play into the amount you sweat when you’re doing any kind of exercise. Some people are prone to sweating more than others and begin to sweat as soon as they get the slightest bit warm. The amount of sweat you put out is also determined by the temperature of the room you’re working out in.

There is a false notion that the more you sweat, the better workout you’re getting. Just because you’re sweating less than the person next to you does not mean that you are burning less fat or building less muscle. The only thing it indicates is that you’re losing less water.

A better indicator of a good workout is getting your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes on most days. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, use the talk test to determine your level.

In case you have control over the temperature of the room you’re working out in, experts say the ideal temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Who would do this?

While many people spend their adult lives trying to lose weight, a study published in the online edition of Gut looks at students who were asked to gain 5% to 15% of their body weight in one month by eating at least two meals a day at fast-food restaurants and adopting a sedentary lifestyle. For a 150 pound person this means a weight gain of 7.5-22.5 pounds.

I don’t know many people who would agree to sabotage their body in this way, but I’m thinking the researchers must have been paying them pretty well. It’s disturbing to think that by eating out just two meals a day and not exercising the students gained an average of 14 pounds.

The results of this study prove that by making small lifestyle changes in the opposite direction, we can make big improvements to our health. I think the takeaway is that if you can gain 14 pounds by starting to eat fast-food more and not exercising, you can lose just as much by reversing those actions.

It’s also important to make healthy choices when we do have eat out at fast-food establishments. If you end up going out to eat quite often try counterbalancing that with a little bit of exercise throughout the day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Don't Let External Factors Dictate Your Life

How many of us feel 'down' when it's raining outside, or energized when the sun is shining? How many times do you run into someone and begin talking about the weather and what a horrible day it is? It's too hot, too cold, too windy, not enough rain, too much rain, etc. It seems that no one is ever happy.

Do you let those external factors dictate your life? I am just as energized when it's raining as I am when the sun is shining. If it's cold of if it's hot, I don't let it affect my mood.

Sure, it's hard sometimes, but I realize that I am the only one responsible for how I feel, how I act and how I treat others. If you play into the external variables in your life all of a sudden you don't have much control over it anymore.

Make a decision today that you won't let external factors like the weather or how other people treat you be a major factor in your direction.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What are you entitled to?

Usually, when someone is having a bad day, they turn to food to comfort them. They say things like, “I deserve to have dessert tonight because I had a rough day” or “Work was stressful, I deserve to take a night off from the gym.” What do you feel you’re entitled to that might be standing in the way of your weight loss goals?

If more people were to really think about the decisions they make on a day-to-day basis they would likely be more successful at reaching their goals. Rather than making impulse decisions because they think they’re entitled to something, they would realize that they’re actually sabotaging their success.

Try reversing your thinking by telling yourself that you deserve to eat healthier or work out more because you know that the outcome possibly means a longer life span with a better quality of life. I guarantee you won’t regret those decisions later.

Do You Avoid Work?

An increasing number of people are finding that they really do not enjoy their work and are looking for excuses to avoid showing up every day. Simply coming down with the flu does not carry as much weight as it used to. Of course your car could always break down, your home could catch fire or one of your kids (or all of them) could be sick with a rare disease, requiring you to put your own life in danger to tend to their well-being.

If you are really creative however, you might be able to convince a friend to shoot you in the shoulder like Daniel did in Washington State. Apparently he wanted some time off as well as to avoid a drug testing.

Have you seen the recent TV commercials by One creative spot shows an entire town waking before sunrise in a panic and taking ordinary, shiny household items to the top of a hill in an attempt to reflect the coming sun back upon itself, thus avoiding the beginning of Monday and the start of a new workweek.

When the sun rises anyway, everyone turns dejectedly and walks back to their homes in order to get ready for work.

If your work is having a similar effect on you, take a step back to contemplate why you work in the first place. Sure, bills need to get paid and your family should be taken care of. But shouldn't your work really be an extension of your life?

What would it look like to wake before your alarm on Monday excited for a new workweek? That is what I do and I would not have it any other way. Instead of planning your life around your work, plan your work around your life.

You may find it helpful to clarify the "what" (your passion) and then work on developing the "how-to" (the plan to get you there). You will be happy you did!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

401(k) Loans are Risky

There are many things workers need to know when it comes to taking money out of a 401(k). Many of my clients are very surprised to discover that when they cash out a 401(k) early to pay off debt, their employer did not withhold enough taxes. Depending on their tax rate, the taxes and penalties sometimes approach 50% of the withdrawal amount. Many times they will owe money at the end of the tax year.

The risk of dipping into a 401(k) for a loan is great. For whatever reason the employee leaves their employer (through downsizing, layoffs, terminations or a better job), they have a short amount of time to pay back the loan or it will be considered an early withdrawal and be subject to taxes and penalties.

The only time we recommend an early withdrawal from a retirement account is to avoid bankruptcy. If money is needed to pay bills, buy groceries or to keep the lights on, sometimes we need to reevaluate our current style of living.

Some short-term fixes to get back on track include selling things, downsizing a home, selling a car and driving one that is paid for, or working overtime or an extra job. These are things that no one wants to do, but the benefits far outweigh that of a loan or withdrawal from a 401(k) and should buy enough time to get back on track.