Friday, May 23, 2008

It's not about the gas prices

The news is reporting people struggling all over the place from the high gas prices. While they have risen quite a bit in the past year I might argue that gas prices form a small amount of the problem.

First of all, yes, you're probably paying $100 or more per month than you used to last year. For some families that has been detrimental and a big stretch to their budget.

Others may need to step back and see where they are really spending their money. If you have car payments at all, you need to get out of them. Sell it and buy something you can afford. If you can't afford to pay cash for a car, then you can't afford that car. Plain and simple. You may need to drive something that doesn't look so nice for a few years just to break that cycle. A while back I sold a car for just $1,000. That's what it took for our family to break the cycle.

Also look at your home. If your mortgage (all of them combined) are more than 25% of your take-home pay, you probably cannot afford your home. You should have a 15 or 20 (at the max) fixed rate mortgage on your home.

Maybe it's time to re-evaluate where all of your money is going. $100 extra a month in gas most likely isn't your problem.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Your Most Important Asset

Your health is the most important thing you have available to you. I probably don't need to say anything more about this, because I think it's a pretty bold statement that speaks for itself. But I will say more, because I am passionate about helping people live their best life possible.

We spend thousands of dollars on education to improve our minds. We spend years trying to figure out what kind of work we want to do for the rest of our lives. And yet we usually don't get a second thought to our health, until we don't have it anymore.

The truth is, good health is one of the best things you can invest in. That is because when you have good health, when you are in shape and can be active, most other things will fall into place.

Think of your health as a foundation. It is the best starting point for improving your life, so start taking care of it today.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Yes, You NEED a Website

It doesn't matter if you are in business or not. Every business needs to have a website in this day and age.

If you want to reach critical mass, or even just any mass, you need a place to send people to.

You may not be in business, but you too need a website. That job you just applied for is hanging in limbo right now. Will your prospective employer 'google' you? Will they find your MySpace page or those pictures from Spring Break 6 years ago?

Or will they not find any information on you, or worse yet, information on another Brian Smith?

The easiest way to take control of the situation (and often free) is to start a blog. is a great place to start and is a free blog platform. Mention your name a few times (or give your blog your name) and your chances of coming up towards the top of any listing have increased tremendously.

Take control of the situation by creating a website or free blog today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Report Card

Think back to when you were a kid. If you brought home a report card with 4 A's and a C, what did your parents focus on?

If your parents were like mine they focused all of their energy as well as mine, on improving the C. But what about those 4 A's? Isn't that where your strengths are?

Why do we spend so much time focusing on our weaknesses? Sure, it's a good thing to be well-rounded, but biology is not my strong suit, no matter how much I work on it.

What if all of us instead focused on improving our strengths even more than we already are? We're already the most powerful nation in the world, but what could we truly become when our work aligns with our passion?

What's Motivating You?

I am a firm believer that if you're going to make a change in your life, especially when it comes to your health, you have to do it for yourself. When you change for someone else it usually doesn't last. You simply don't have the right motivation.

However, I was listening to a talk radio show the other day and a woman called in to see what options her husband had because he is too heavy to get term life insurance. This guy is 6' tall and 350 pounds - which is not that outrageous, considering that so many Americans are obese. Every single company they tried turned this guy down.

Not only is his weight affecting his life, but the lives of his wife and six children as well. His weight puts him at a significantly higher risk of diabetes, having a stroke, heart attack, and his health in general. What will happen to his family if he dies with no term insurance? How will a single mom take care of 6 children?

The host of the radio show suggested that he lose weight, that it wouldn't be that outlandish to lose 100-150 pounds. The wife agreed, she knew it could be done, but that he had to do that for himself.

I think it's pretty selfish for someone who has a family (especially 6 children!) that depends on them, and they can't even lose enough weight to get proper insurance which will take care of the family if anything happens to them.

Sometimes we need to look at the motivation in our lives and think about what's really important. If you're overweight, you may think you're indestructible, that nothing will happen to you. People die every day of heart attacks, strokes, cancer - all things that are affected by how much you weigh.

Even if the issue for you is not life insurance, think about your quality of life. Make the important people in your life the reason that YOU want to change your health. I guarantee you won't regret it.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Weakest Link

When I don't reach the goals I set (or even fail to set the goals I want to reach) I tend to blame other people or the situation, when in reality, I am sitting right at the heart of the problem.

It's easy to blame our circumstances when things don't go the way we plan. The economy seems to be right at the top of everyone's list right now. Home sales have gone south and everyone is losing their homes to foreclosure, right? Well, then why is my friend Preston in the office at 7:30 am and still there at 5:30 pm?

Preston is a mortgage broker with more business than he can handle. If we're all losing our homes and renting because of the economy, you certainly cannot convince him of that.

I struggle with identifying the real cause of most problems I have in my life. The scary part is that I'm usually a root cause.

When we set goals or decide to dream big, write out your plan as well on paper. Try taping that plan to your bathroom mirror. You will find it much easier to accomplish what you set out to if it is staring you in the face each morning when you roll out of bed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Being Worth The Effort

I'm always surprised when I hear about the things people will do to achieve weight loss quickly. Some measures are downright dangerous (fen-phen) and others are just ridiculous (using vibration to tone abs).

Recently, while I was listening to the Dave Ramsey show, someone was asking about whether it would be wise for his mother to borrow against her 401K to pay for bypass surgery. Of course it isn't wise to borrow at 40% for just about anything, but it got me thinking about what people will do in order to avoid making the effort to achieve something.

This past fall and winter I was saving a little bit of money from each of my paychecks in order to buy a new bike for the spring. When I finally had enough money, I went to the store to buy the bike. I can't tell you how much satisfaction it gave me to work hard and save up. I bet that I wouldn't have nearly that much happiness if someone had just given me $550 to buy a new bike.

The best things that we get in life aren't those that come easily for us. It's the struggle we look back on that makes us realize just how far we've come. I would tell anyone looking for that magic bullet to lose weight that they will receive so much satisfaction from working on getting healthy rather than taking drastic measures.

I understand that some people have medical conditions which prevent them from losing weight on their own. And of course, in those cases I would encourage them to talk with their doctor. But figure out what other changes you might be able to make in your life that you can look back on and really be proud of yourself.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Focus on what You do Best

Do you have a graphic design firm? Then stop doing your bookkeeping. Hire or contract it out. You are not in the business of bookkeeping.

If you help people organize their finances through financial coaching, then stop designing websites. That's exactly what I did years ago. I enjoy designing websites and I still work on our companies, but I'm not in that business.

What are you doing now that takes away from your real offering? Don't water it down. Get right to the meat or the heart of what you do and do it well.