Category Archives: Resolutions

Preparing for new year ambitions

December marks the joyous excitement leading up to Christmas, which is swiftly followed by New Year’s celebrations. If you are like 58% of the American population, then you have probably already started planning your resolutions for the new year. goalsAlmost 6 out of 10 people start off with the best of intentions to make significant differences in their lives over the following 12 months, but 80% of these have already failed by February.

The majority of resolutions involve health (healthier eating, losing weight, exercising more), money (saving money, spending less money, paying off debt), and spending more time with your friends and family.  Being more productive, and kicking other habits that you no longer want are also common goals that people set for themselves. With this in mind we wanted to take a look at some of the best apps out there that can help you to achieve your goals:

  1. Mint – A really great tool which is an aggregator that allows you to create and mintmaintain a comprehensive family budget. You have visibility of all of your household’s income and expenses, and can easily collaborate with other members of your family.
  2. Personal Capital – Similar to Mint, Personal Capital is a platform where you can track all of your finances. There are many standard capabilities such as calculating your net worth, monitoring debt, and tracking financial goals. Personal Capital has some great capabilities when it comes to planning for retirement through its Retirement Planner. This platform analyzes your investment portfolio (IRA’s, 401k, investment accounts, 529 funds) and provides feedback about your progress, stock allocations, and management fees.
  3. FitBit – Samsung Health, Google Fit, all of these are great fitness trackers which will allow you to set and monitor health trends such as heart rate, distance, steps, weight, and quality of sleep. Many health insurance companies have discounts and rewards available for customers who meet specified fitness goals within these platforms.fitbit.png
  4. Castbox/ Stitcher – One way to kill two birds with one stone is to listen to podcasts while you are exercising. This is a great way to take on new information while your mind is clear, and is also a great way to take your mind off of the stresses of your life.
  5. Blinklist – Many people set out with the goal of reading more books over the coming 12 months. There are some great tools out there that can make this habit much reading tableteasier than it has been in the past. E-readers such as Kindle and Nook provide you with the material you need, wherever you may be. You can buy new books, rent them from your local library, or even share them with friends. For those who are keen to broaden their knowledge, but are put off by the length of time required, there is a solution. Blinklist is a simple tool which provides you with book summaries that allow you to “read” books in just a fraction of the time it typically takes.
  6. Map My Run – This is one of the most popular fitness apps on the market, and it’s easy to see why. This program has a very simple user interface and is super simple to use. They have a goals section where you can set things such as the targeted number of runs per week, monthly miles, days run per week, or total miles over the course of the year. One of the most common goals is to complete 1000 miles within a calendar year.
  7. Ramsey Solutions – This is a platform of knowledge that is likely to be able to ramseyprovide you with valuable information to help you in areas where you need support. Dave Ramsey of The Total Money Makeover fame, started this company with purely financial advice. Since then, the program has developed opportunities for people to learn more about retirement, spending time with family, starting a new business, or making a career change.
  8. Local support groups – As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. If you are struggling with something that is really holding you back and you are looking for support, please connect with a local support group. This can be done through a simple Google search, can be recommended by your Doctor, and are often supported by community centers such as churches, fire stations, and fitness centers.

What are your resolutions for 2018, and what are some creative ways in which you are planning on keeping on track? We would love to hear your ideas, as well as be made aware of some excellent apps that can make such a huge difference in the pursuit of success. Until next time, stay focused, and Expect The Exceptional in everything that you do.

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The # 1 Trait of successful people is…

It seems that everywhere you look these days, there are self-help guides, self improvement books, seminars, and podcasts all designed to help people take their lives to the next level. The list of ideas to focus on varies drastically depending on the background of the author and what they deem to be successful, but there are several characteristics that can be found across the majority of these publications:

An ability to think differently and go against the grain – Without the courage and belief of people such as Steve Jobs, Mother Theresa, and Martin Luther King Jr., the world would be a very different place to what it is today. It takes a special person to put their reputation on the line and do the complete opposite of what everyone else is doing.

A willingness to fail – Some of the most successful people in the world failed on numerous occasions to get the success that they are now famous for. One of the most famous examples of this is Michael Jordan whose commitment to failure quote is known around the world:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

The ability to set and pursue goals – Successful people have to be excellent multitaskers and must possess the ability to prioritize their tasks. Each will have different methods of doing this, but the majority of successful people will discuss the way in which they set out their goals at the start of the day and work through them in priority order.

They are ambitious – They are hungry, driven, and want to succeed. This fuels their fire and makes them a relentless competitor with the desire to grow and thrive.

They are responsible – They take ownership of what they do, and do not push blame and failure onto those around them.

The ability to network and connect – There is no possible way for people to accomplish all of their goals without support from the people around them. They have an ability to surround themselves with successful people and are able to leverage their network to help them achieve their goals.

They don’t procrastinate and wait for “the right time” – with many things in life there are typically no perfect times to do something, apart from when it comes to crossing a road, where poor timing can be deadly… Fear of failure is what holds most people back, but successful people will see the reward rather than the risk.

They are focused – They understand that there are a lot of distractions around them, but there is the need to focus on what truly matters and what is important. How good are you at prioritizing and how does this help you to achieve your goals?

There are many other qualities that people discuss when it comes to the characteristics of successful people, but in my opinion, one of the most underrated traits is that of resilience and refusing to give up, no matter how difficult things become.

All of the above strengths are pointless if you don’t have purpose and passion to fuel your fire. One of the best examples of resilience that has inspired so many people over the years is the “Tyson Is Back” fight from 1990. 42-1 outsider Buster Douglas managed to overcome the then undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson, in one of the biggest upsets in sporting history. What allowed Buster to experience this success? Resiliency and purpose. Watch the video below to find out more about this incredible story.

 

How resilient are you? How do you react to those punches that make you feel like you just can’t carry on? What keeps you going when you almost reach the point of no return? The resiliency and drive that successful people have is something that motivational speaker and life coach Tony Robbins has spent his life exploring. It’s a fascinating trait and one that would make you a fortune if you were able to bottle it and replicate it.

We are keen to get your thoughts on what makes people successful. Do you disagree with any of the items listed here? What did we miss? What “superpower” do you possess that makes you successful? Looking forward to reading your responses! Until next time, Expect the Exceptional in everything that you do, and be resilient!

Staying Healthy at Home

In today’s economy, more and more people are being asked to go above and beyond the expectation of working 40 hours per week. Kids’ schedules are becoming increasingly complex, family time is being continually squeezed and unfortunately people’s health is frequently one of the first things to be sacrificed. This is rather unfortunate as this makes all of the other responsibilities even more challenging than they already are. Staying physically and mentally healthy are of critical importance for an enjoyable and productive life. Are you taking care of your health or have you let other things take over?

Last week we looked at ways that you can take care of your health in the workplace. Today we are going to look at ways in which you can take care of yourself at home. Hopefully some of these will help you along the way to improving your health, or will give you alternative solutions to what you are currently doing. We would love to hear of any other ways in which you stay healthy, either at home or in the workplace, so please leave your ideas in the comment box below!

The first thing to do is to work on separating work from family.  This is an ever woman on computer in bedincreasing problem where parents and spouses are in the same room as their loved ones, but they aren’t actually present. More and more people are working remotely due to technologies that are now available to us. This is great in many ways, but can also be problematic as your home is now your place of work, and you can get trapped in “the office”.

Try to separate your work from your home life by having a designated room where you go to work. Keep all electronics and other work related items in here so that you truly can separate work from play. Try not to fall into the trap of having your computer or phone with you at all times where you are constantly connected to work, and miss out on the time with your family. We all need downtime to relax, have fun, and keep our stress levels under control. Make sure that you aren’t overdoing it, because it will catch up with you at some point. Here are our 10 most important factors when it comes to all-round health.

NOTE: We are not medical professionals and this list is just a collection of ways in which my family and I try to stay healthy. If you are concerned with your personal health you should set up an appointment with your doctor to discuss solutions.

(1) Diet

  • Eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Limit portion sizes
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay hydrated – take your weight and divide it in two.  That is how many ounces of water you should drink in a day.

(2) Grocery shopping

  • Try to visit your local farmer’s market when possible to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Stock up on healthy snacks
  • Have a refillable water bottle on hand for when you are on the go
  • Limit purchases of high sugar, high fat foods so that they aren’t easily available
  • Try to spend the majority of your time in the store on the edges – protein, dairy and produce – and less time among the dry goods.

(3) Financial health 

  • Budgets – meet with a financial adviser for professional help in this direction. There are also some great financial trackers out there including Mint and EveryDollar.
  • Establish 529 college funds for your children’s future education expenses
  • Pay down credit card balances and avoid interest charges
  • Regularly contribute to retirement funds to take advantage of compound interest
  • If your company provides a 401k match, take advantage of this “free money” at least up to the amount that your employer provides

(4) Exercise

  • Choose activities that you enjoy. Walking, dancing, gardening, and playing in the yard with your children are all great ways to exercise.
  • Try to create a regular schedule so that your exercise becomes a routine
  • Work out with someone else
  • Perform other tasks at this time – for example you can read while on an exercise bike, or listen to a podcast as you complete a run or bike-ride.

(5) Sun

  • Steer clear of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m when the sun is at it’s most dangerous.
  • Wear hats, long-sleeve shirts and sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher.
  • Don’t use sunlamps or tanning booths. Try self-tanning creams instead.
  • Wear sunglasses to prevent damage caused by exposure to UV rays
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(6) Minimize vices

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Avoid risky behaviors such as speeding, gambling and dangerous driving

(7) Staying mentally healthy

  • Keep your mind limber – reading, completing puzzles, enrolling in a class
  • Rest and relaxation – take time out of your schedule to pursue your passions, and spend time with your loved ones
  • Sleep – adults need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep daily

(8) Setting goals

As is the case with many things in life, there is a need to set SMART goals when it comes to your health. This might be a target weight that you want to reach, a size of clothing that you want to be able to fit into, or the number of glasses of water that you want to drink on a daily basis. Whatever your goal there are multiple apps that can help you track them including Fitbit, Samsung Health and My Fitness Pal.

(9) Annual health check ups

These are frequently covered by your health insurance policies and you should definitely take advantage of them. They are great for collecting baseline data, reviewing past medical concerns, and catching potential health issues before they become too problematic.

(10) Prioritize your health

We saved the most important for last: Make sure that your health is always at the top of your priority list!

Until next week, stay healthy, and Expect the Exceptional in everything that you do.

When you’re searching for a new job…

Pay attention to these warning signwarnings!

Finding a new job is a daunting task, and sometimes desperation kicks in causing people to accept positions that may not be a great fit.  When you are interviewing for a new job, pay attention to your surroundings and ask questions to make sure it is the right place for you.  The following are some ideas for things to look for and ask about:

  1. Employee handbook: Make sure there is an employee handbook available for after you are hired to help answer questions you may not think to ask.  This is a great indicator of the company’s organizational tendencies as well.
  2. Employee benefits: Always a plus, and in many cases, the law.  At least for the time being, companies with a certain number of employees must offer insurance so do your research and make sure the company is doing the right thing.
  3. No organizational chart in place: It’s important to know who you are reporting to.org chart  If a company tells you that “everyone is the captain of their own ship,” that may sound great in theory.  No boss!  Hooray!  But ultimately, if you don’t have one person guiding the ship, you will be pulled in many different directions and not much will get accomplished.
  4. No infrastructure in place: If a company feels it’s OK to purchase a used, $50 computer for their employees and expects great things to come from it, it’s probably not the company for you.  Because chances are, they will end up having to replace that computer with many, many more computers every time it breaks down.  Make sure that the company you are looking to work for has everything you need to successfully get your job done.
  5. Are focused purely on making money: You don’t want to work for a company without a social conscience.  Money is great, it’s why you work, but at the end of the day it’s also important to feel good about yourself and how you are spending your days.
  6. Accountability: This is related to the org chart mentioned above.  It is so important for companies to hold their employees accountable for their actions.  If you have a coworker that constantly rolls in at 10:30, while you’ve been there since 8:00, chances are you won’t be able to accomplish much together.  It is not your job as an employee to call your coworkers and wake them up; that is up to management, and if they are not doing their job that is a big red flag.
  7. Cleanliness of the building: Most office settings these days hire someone to clean for them, so this is usually something that you would not even notice.  But if you do see that the bathrooms look a little gnarly and the carpet is loaded with bits of paper and dust, chances are this company does not have someone cleaning on the weekends.  Which means A) you will be working in an unsanitary environment or B) you will be asked to assist with the cleaning.  Either way, ask about this at the interview before you find yourself cleaning toilets instead of getting your work done.
  8. Attitude of the owners/ executive team: What time does the boss get into the office?  What time do they leave?  If the owner of the company is putting in as many if not more hours than their employees, that’s a great sign.  It shows they are invested in the company and their employees.  If the owner has decided that they want to hand the reigns over to an under-qualified employee in order to spend more time at the lake, you probably want to look elsewhere.
  9. Longevity of staff:  What is the turnaround?  Look for a company with employees who have been around for many years and only leave to retire.
  10. Longevity of clients: If the company does indeed have clients, how long have they worked together?  If the clients hang around for many years, then it’s probably a great company to work with and therefore a great company to work for.
  11. Look for reviews: Facebook, Yelp, Google +, Glassdoor, and any industry specific forums all have a section for reviews. You may encounter upset former employees who want to go down with all guns blazing, but you should be able to get a good idea of the company given the comments that you read.

Hopefully this helps as you are searching for the perfect job.  Remember, just because they offer does not mean you have to accept!  Find something you will enjoy getting out of bed for in the morning, as this will have a direct effect on your happiness and well-being.  out of bed

I’m glad I did vs. I wish I had

Will you look back on life and say “I wish I had” or “I’m glad I did”?

Taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves is crucial to our success journey. We shouldn’t shy away from opportunities that require us to step out of our comfort zone, yet we often do. Are you the kind of person who is a little more reserved race-695303_960_720and conservative, and in hindsight find yourself thinking “I wish I had”? Or are you more courageous and inquisitive, always striving for new ideas and experiences and frequently experience the thought of “I’m glad I did”?

When my husband first walked into Greg Aldridge’s State Farm office 4 years ago, I don’t think he had any idea what a huge moment in his life it would turn out to be. He was looking to get a new quote on his auto insurance and walked into Greg’s office with the goal of saving a few dollars. It just so happened that this was the first day of Greg’s ownership of this State Farm agency. Greg is a third generation State Farm agent, who had been working for the corporate office in Oklahoma, but recently purchased the book of business from the previous owner who was retiring. As my husband entered the “office” he had to stop and make sure he had gone into the correct building, as Greg had just started remodeling the entire space, which looked more like a building site than a professional establishment.

Jamie put his current insurance policy on Greg’s desk and asked if Greg could do it cheaper. Greg said that he could definitely get a lower priced policy for Jamie, but also state-farm-logosaid that it wouldn’t be worth anything if an accident were to occur. Instead of taking the easy sale, Greg offered us the chance to meet with him, and this is definitely one of the strongest “I’m glad I did” experiences that we have had. Neither of us knew anything about auto insurance as our previous policies were from online only providers and the only thing that mattered was price. This was a very naive approach to something so important, and we will forever be grateful for the knowledge that Greg has shared with us.

In our meeting with Greg, he first asked questions to find out more about our lives and what mattered to us, so that he could create insurance policies that would adequately cover our loved ones if something were to happen. We ended up leaving Greg’s office with auto, home-owners, and life insurance policies, and continue to develop both our professional and personal relationship with Greg, his family, and his incredible team. We both vividly remember Greg introducing the idea of “I’m glad I did, rather than “I wish I had” in our initial engagement, and this is something that we both frequently think about when making big decisions in our lives.

For some reason this isn’t the only time that we have experienced the “I’m glad I did” feeling in the area of 87th and Pflumm in Lenexa. On February 5th, 2010 on a cold winter’s night, I entered Tanners Bar and Grill for a couple of post-work drinks with a colleague. Little did I know that later that night I would meet the man who is now my husband and father of our two incredible sons.  I wasn’t overly excited about venturing out in the snow, and Jamie almost went to Callahans on the opposite side of the street, but for some reason we both entered the same establishment and will be forever grateful that we both made the decisions that we did. Life is full of moments where you have tough decisions to make, and my advice to you is to always think about the incredible things that can happen when you get out of your comfort zone and are open to new opportunities.

Everyone in their life frequently uses the phrases “I’m glad I did” or “I wish I had”, sometimes without even realizing it. If you think about it for 30 seconds I imagine there will be several scenarios like this that will immediately enter your mind. You might have planned a vacation and declined travel insurance, only to have to reschedule your vacation costing you hundreds of dollars in change fees. It might have been stretching the budget to go and visit a sick loved which turned out to be the last time you saw them. It might have been spending that extra $19.95 per month for OnStar which came in handy when your spouse and children found themselves stranded and needed mechanical assistance. Or it might have been that time you finally plucked up the courage to leave your dead-end job behind, and pursue your dreams of owning your own business.youth-active-jump-happy-40815

Next time you find yourself at a crossroads in your life and are faced with a difficult decision to make, think about all of the positives that could come from getting out of your comfort zone. What’s the biggest “I’m glad I did” experience of your life? What is the biggest disappointment that you have experienced where you have found yourself thinking “I wish I had”? Life is full of difficult decisions, but next time you are faced with one, think about all of the incredible things that could happen if you get out of your comfort zone. I know that you are all thinking “I’m glad I did” after reading this article! Until next time, Expect the Exceptional in everything that you do.

Setting and achieving goals

Our society’s focus on technology and innovation forces us to strive for “bigger and better” every day. Regardless of the industry you are in, it is important to be on the cutting edge in order to stay ahead of your competitors.

But when you are sitting in a meeting discussing how to be the best, does it ever feel like the goals being set are unreachable? Sure it would be great to be ranked number one in your field by the end of the year, but as a new company, is that really possible?  Setting goals that are impossible to reach wastes time and money, when your focus could be on something that will actually be accomplished.  There is no harm in striving to be the very best, but be sure that you are not spending time in an area where you will not succeed.  In order to do this, it is important to set SMART goals.  The SMART acronym was first published in a 1981 issue of  Management Review by George T. Doran.  While times have changed, these guidelines can still help individuals and companies alike tailor their goals to the kind that can be achieved, rather than the kind that get forgotten after many failures.

Specific – make sure the goal you are setting is targeting a specific area in need of improvement.

Measurable – you should be able to track the progress of your goal, beyond arbitrarily deciding whether it’s going well or not.  When you can decidedly track and assess progress, the excitement you feel toward reaching your goals is a great motivator to keep going.

Achievable – as mentioned above, you don’t want to set a goal that is out of your reach.  So much time will be wasted trying to accomplish something that will never get done.

Relevant – it is important the goals you set actually matter to you and will help you achieve other relevant goals.  There may be a promotion available at work for the head of marketing, but are you actually interested in marketing?  Would getting this promotion better your life, or would it simply be one more thing to add to your resume, just because?

Time-related – set a due date for your goal to avoid putting it off for another time.  If you decide you want to lose 10 lbs, that’s great!  It is specific, measurable, achievable and relevant.  But if you don’t set a date to accomplish this goal, you may spend years working on those 10 lbs, when realistically, you could have been enjoying a healthier, happier you after just 6 months.

Setting goals is important.  It keeps us going.  It gives us a reason for being.  But setting the wrong goals, or going about achieving them the wrong way, can be frustrating and demoralizing.  Make sure your goals are smart so you can continue being the best you possible, at work and at home.

 

Kids in the Winter – Yikes!

As a work-at-home mother, the winter months tend to be the ones I dread the most.  I love the beginning, when it’s fun to get cozy and curl up under blankets for an awesome Pixar movie, but as time goes by, watching Toy Story again starts to get old for parents and kids alike.  The holidays require a lot of work on the part of parents, which leaves the kids begging for more attention, and when everything calms down a break is much needed.  But not for the kids!  They are ready for more action.  Whether or not you are home or off to work during the day, winter with little ones can be trying.  Therefore, I present a list for your winter activity needs!  Maybe you don’t have kids, but are still looking for things to do when it’s freezing outside.  Read on.  You may get some ideas!

  1. Build a fort – this is a fun activity that reminds you of your childhood while entertaining the little ones in your life at the same time.  And there is no rule that says children need to be present while a fort is being built.  So give it a try when the weather is nasty and being inside one more day seems unbearable.  Plus, you already have everything you need, which is a sheet.
  2. Have a picnic – choose a dinner that does not include anything messy, such as sandwiches and veggies.  Then throw a blanket on the floor and have a picnic dinner!
  3. Game night – pull out some games for the whole family and play the short versions to hold the kids’ attention.  And this way, you can get through two or three different games in a night!

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  4. Play in a different room – this may seem simple, but even providing a new environment can eliminate the boredom the members of your household are feeling.  If you typically play in the family room, set up some toys in the dining room and utilize the space in your home!
  5. Bake – when it’s cold outside, baking can warm your home and provide entertainment for the whole family.  Find a recipe that everyone can help with, and start delegating.  You might even find multiple recipes to keep the activity going and the children captivated.
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This is a start, and will hopefully help with the winter blues.  Do you have ideas for winter activities?  Put them in the comments below!