Tag: self improvement


How to Make Smart Investments in Your Life and Career

With the end of another year AND another decade nearing, it’s time to get serious about your life and your career. You don’t have to have a lot of money or even a lot of time to invest in your future. But, you do need to start somewhere. There are several little things you can do to make smart investments in your life and career. These little things will add up. And by the end of the next decade and even the next year, you’ll see a BIG payoff!

Let’s break it down by various areas of your life. We’ll use the seven major areas as outlined in my Goal-Achievement Plan, a free download when you subscribe to my newsletter at www.yourpassioninlife.com. Don’t let all the following suggestions overwhelm you. Instead, just pick one or two to start with. The results you see will motivate you to make the same kind of investment in the other areas of your life. Pretty soon you’ll see an overall improvement in your life and career.

1. Spiritual investments

Getting centered spiritually, regardless of what it looks like for you, is probably the most important investment you can make in your life. Setting aside time at the beginning of each day for small habits such as prayer or meditation, reading, and journaling can get your day started off on the right foot.

Eleven years ago I started getting up an hour early each morning to do just that. I can’t even begin to describe what this has done for me, personally and even professionally. But now I can’t imagine starting my day without it. This habit is truly my daily bread. It’s helped me to make smart decisions in all the other areas of life listed below. The return on my time and emotional investment is priceless.

I encourage you to do the same. If mornings seem impossible for you, then at least commit to this habit every night before bed. Just know though, it will be harder to stay committed once you’re already tired. This is one reason why I recommend doing it in the morning. The other reason is because you’ll have the armor you’ll need to face each day’s challenges with renewed strength.

2. Investments in family

This one is sometimes hard for me to manage since my family is located far away. You may have the same situation too. Taking the time to speak to each other on the phone or via FaceTime on a regular basis (instead of just texting) can strengthen family ties.

When together in person, resist the temptation to play on your phone or on social media, especially during a meal together. Instead, put the phone away and invest your attention in your loved ones. Be fully present with them.

If the phone does come out, let it be to share some recent photos with each other and to take some new photos together, creating new memories to look back on ten years from now. Who knows what new technology will be available in ten years to let us share these photos and take new ones?!

3. Smart investments in your health

If you haven’t heard this yet, health is the new wealth. Being able to enjoy your life ten years from now will depend on your current health habits. Your bank account will also depend on your health. Will you still be able to work ten years from now based on how you’re currently treating your body?

The past ten years I’ve developed new eating and exercise habits. While the addition of these habits to my routine has been incremental, I’ve already experienced numerous benefits. I can’t wait to see how my habits and results improve in the coming years.

In addition to investing time in regular exercise, it’s good to invest a little more money in healthier foods. Although healthier foods still cost more than unhealthy foods, think of the money you’ll save in doctor bills in the future!

You may have seen the story on Facebook about the elderly woman who was able to reverse her dementia by eating foods like blueberries and walnuts. She’s not Super Woman, but what she’s eating are super foods! Super foods are those foods found in nature containing more nutrition than any other foods.

The top ten super foods are avocados, blueberries, broccoli, eggs, garlic, honey, lentils, quinoa, spinach, and walnuts. They’re best for you when eaten with other super foods. Every morning I need 30 grams of protein so I don’t get hungry again too soon. I’m usually able to incorporate three to four super foods in my high-protein breakfast.

In addition, there are several foods that can lower your cholesterol. They include fish, olive oil, whole grains, berries, avocados, beans, nuts, spinach, red wine (in moderation), vegetables, citrus fruits, soy, green and black teas, and (my favorite) dark chocolate. I also get at least four of these in my high-protein breakfast.

Try incorporating some of your own favorite foods from the items above in your diet to go along with some fun form of exercise you enjoy most.

4. Smart investments in your career

Without making the above smart investments in your life, it will be difficult to be successful in your career. Career success also depends on your ability to sharpen and update your current skills while learning new skills. Doing so requires an investment of time, and sometimes money.

If your current employer pays for professional development or continuing education, take advantage of it! But go a step further and seek out additional educational and personal growth opportunities that can prepare you for a promotion or possible future career change. You can find these opportunities in local continuing ed programs and online, most of which are typically very affordable. Having this additional training can give you leverage when starting your own business, asking for a raise, or negotiating a salary offer for a new job.

Speaking of salary negotiations, career success also depends on how well you can negotiate a fair salary. This is something I teach my clients how to do tactfully.

Let’s assume whatever the salary offer is, you’ll get at least the average cost-of-living raise each year, which is typically 2% to 3%. Let’s say you get an initial offer of $80,000 and accept it without countering. Do you realize in five years, you will have lost out on as much as $27,340 in salary increases by not asking for just $5,000 more? (An additional $5,000 is the most you can usually ask for without the hiring manager having to seek additional approval.) Raises compound just like financial investments do!

5. Financially smart investments

If you’re able to negotiate a higher salary, then you’ll have more money to invest now which will grow over time. But financial investments don’t just include putting your money into a 401K or into the stock market. They also include learning how to be more financially responsible. This begins with investing the time to creating a budget, monitoring your spending habits, figuring out necessary spending cuts, saving for an emergency fund, taking the time to pay off debts, adding to your emergency fund, and learning more about smart investing.

This may not sound like fun and may even sound difficult depending on your current financial situation. Taken all together, it does seem overwhelming and impossible. But when you break it down into baby steps as financial expert Dave Ramsey teaches in his book The Total Money Makeover, it not only becomes easy but also motivating!

While I don’t subscribe to everything Ramsey teaches, I will say his baby step method to financial freedom does work! By following this method, I’m on track to have my car paid off a year early. And this feels good! It’s motivated me to set bigger financial goals like contributing more to my mutual fund and IRA and giving more to causes meaningful to me.

You can start small today by making payments on your smallest debt and then using the snowball approach Ramsey teaches to tackling your remaining debt. As a result your debt will be paid off faster than you think!

6. Socially smart investments

Like smart investments in your family, it’s also important to invest in others through your network and your in-real-life social connections.

I’ve written numerous blog posts on the importance of building professional relationships to grow your network. This takes a lot of investment of time and energy. It requires you to be the kind of contact you’d like to have. It also requires you to be realistic about the time it takes to build and nurture these professional relationships. As a career coach, I cannot stress enough the importance of growing your network!

In addition to creating strong ties in your professional network, you want to do the same in your social life. The best way to create and foster new social connections is by getting involved in activities and causes you’re drawn to. This includes getting involved with a group interested in the same form of exercise you enjoy, volunteering with others for a cause you find meaningful, or joining a small group in your church. These are just a few examples, but they do help you find your “tribe” so to speak.

I’ve personally made friends with people just from my passion of stand-up paddle boarding, my participation in a weekly dinner with my small group, and from volunteering alongside people I otherwise would’ve never met. What are some things you can get involved in to meet and bond with new people?

7. Investments in personal growth and education

Similar to professional development that sharpens your career skills, it’s important for your personal development to invest in some lifelong learning on topics outside your career. Investing in classes on a subject just to learn more about it or to improve your knowledge can have a great return on investment! In addition to increasing your knowledge on a new subject, it can exercise your brain and reduce your risk of age-related diseases. It can also expand your network and your social circle. It can even help you discover a side gig or another revenue stream!

I’m always trying to learn new things and improve on the things I already know. For instance, last year I took a paddle clinic from former canoeing Olympian and QuickBlade owner Jim Terrell to improve my stand-up paddling skills. I’ve also taken classes on topics like financial success, self-defense, small business marketing, and much more.

As stated earlier, many of these courses are offered through continuing education programs and are usually very affordable. I encourage you to check out the Nashville Community Education Commission to see what classes they have you might be interested or curious in. This is a really fun way to invest your time and money to better your life and your career!

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How to Have a Good Life: Do These 7 Small Things

What does it take to have a good life?

As a career coach to those currently going through career and life transitions, I often have clients coming to me because they’ve realized their jobs are eating away at their personal lives.

They feel like they’re life is no longer good because they’ve lost their passion or can’t enjoy their passions due to the rat race.

When this happens, I guide them through several exercises to help them get unstuck so they can either move forward or move on to something new.

These exercises include the following seven small things you can do to help you have a good life.

And who knows? Maybe one or more of these exercises will help you discover a new purpose for your life and career!


1. Know What Energizes You and What Drains You

Pay attention to the daily things that energize you and the daily things that drain you. Be aware of what gives you peace and what stresses you out every day.

Incorporate more of the energizing and peaceful things into each day, while reducing the number of draining and stressful things.

Don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries to accomplish this if you have to.

One very simple thing I do is I don’t take phone calls from people I know who will drain my energy unless I have enough energy to give them. I usually wait and call them back when I have the energy to do so, but within a reasonable amount of time (within 24 to 48 hours).


2. De-clutter

De-clutter and get organized!

Get rid of clothes you no longer wear. Get rid of devices you don’t use.

Straighten up your surroundings. Make your bed everyday.

Organize your schedule a few days ahead of time.

Having things neat and organized creates a sense of serenity.

A few years ago I reduced my closet down to a capsule wardrobe (about only 30 garments). I got rid of 2/3 of my closet.

Since doing this, I don’t have as much trouble deciding what to wear each day, and therefore I don’t get frustrated and don’t waste time trying on several different outfits.

This also makes me less moody in the mornings and I get out the door on time.


3. Treat Yourself

Treat yourself every once in a while.

If you’re the type of person who never puts yourself first, you need this!

One of my favorite ways to treat myself is going out to eat with a friend.

Another way I treat myself is making time in the middle of the week for my favorite hobby, stand-up paddle boarding.


4. Become Uncomfortable

On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who goes overboard treating yourself, find a way to become uncomfortable. This will challenge you and build your character.

Step out of your comfort zone by taking a class to learn a new language, or volunteer in a setting that makes you nervous. Do something that seems scary, like speaking in front of a group.

Maintain a balance by rewarding yourself only after you’ve done something productive or something where you’ve served others.

My personal goals each year are to learn something new, serve others, and share my knowledge.

While I was able to do all of the above in one week while on my mission trip to the Amazon jungle, I’ve found it easier and more manageable to spread these things out over the course of a year instead!


5. Ask, Listen, & Apply

Ask about and learn from other people’s stories.

Listen to them.

Find out how they got to where they are.

What have been their biggest regrets thus far?

What did they learn from both their failures and their successes?

Apply what you learn from them to your life in your own unique way.

I love having one-on-one conversations like this with people from different backgrounds.


6. Break Out of Your Everyday Surroundings

Break out from your everyday surroundings once in a while.

Take a drive to a nearby town and be a tourist there for the day. Or go visit an attraction in your own town you’ve never been to.

Every year I drive two short hours away to spend a weekend at a monastery where there is complete silence.

They have accommodations and a cafeteria for people to come there for a silent retreat, and it only costs the amount I’m led to give as an offering.

It’s one of the most peaceful weekends of my year.


7. Reflect

Take time to reflect on what you’re truly passionate about (note: this requires some peace and quiet!).

What are the things you lose track of time doing?

What are things you’d do without getting paid?

Incorporate these things into your life as recreation or find a way to make money doing them.

My own passions include helping others pursue their passions, writing, and stand up paddling. I’ve found a way to incorporate all three into my work as a career coach.


How to Get Started on Having a Good Life

If all these ideas sound a bit overwhelming, just choose one or two to try for right now. Give them a long enough chance for them to become habits. Once they do, then try a couple more.

You can also get started by subscribing to the paNASH newsletter and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan. Following the steps in this plan will help you not just set goals, but also achieve them!

Before you know it, you’ll see a major impact on your life. You’ll have more joy, peace, and positivity. You’ll have a good life!

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How to Overcome Your Fear of Risk and Improve Your Life


Risk is something that can instill fear in all of us. The risk of rejection, the risk of failure, and so on and so on.

My clients often express fear of starting something new in their careers. My friends are sometimes afraid of making a major life change. I too have experienced fear of certain risks.

I’ve had several people say to me they admire the fact that I wasn’t afraid to risk traveling to the other side of the world by myself, risk ending a sub-par relationship, or risk starting my own business.

I never said I wasn’t afraid to do those things. There was some fear involved in all those things because each of them came with certain risks.

It wasn’t about being unafraid.

It was about pushing through and overcoming the fears in order to get to something better in my life.


7 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Risk and Improve Your Life

A couple of years ago I read an article entitled “7 Ways to Control Your Fear and Advance Your Career” by bestselling author Harvey Mackay.

The seven things he outlined can be applied to any area of your life, not just your career.

I’d like to expand on the seven things he mentioned, but I’m going to slightly change the order of them.


1. Try new things.

Yes, you’ve heard me say that more than once. But, it’s always worth repeating.

Why? Because there are always new things to try.

And you never know what new thing is going to become the thing that gets you over your fears and improves your life until you try.

Mackay says,

“There is only one thing worse than a quitter, and that is someone who is afraid to begin…Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic. Think about it.”

Trying new things will lessen future fears, build your confidence, and increase your ability to handle future risks.

So, let me ask you the same question Darius Rucker is asking in his hit song,

When was the last time you did something for the first time?


2. Review your risks

If taking future risks will help you overcome your fear and build your confidence, then certainly any past risks you’ve taken and fears you’ve already faced have built a certain level of confidence in you.

Spend some time reviewing all the times you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone or done something you were afraid of.

What was the result?

How did you feel after you did it?

Even if it failed, what was the biggest lesson you learned from it?

What was successful about the experience?

How did it help you overcome fear?

Chances are the outcome wasn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be and most of the risks you took turned out to be okay.

Mackay says,

“Figure out what made them work. Can you duplicate those decisions that led to success and apply them to other situations?”


3. Explore your memories

Since you’re already looking back, take some time to also look back over your life and career to explore what exactly instills fear in you.

What do those situations look like?

What are their common denominators?

What happened when you were afraid to do something but did it anyway?


4. Look at your responsibilities

Regardless of your age, marital status, work situation, etc., you have a lot of priorities and responsibilities in your life.

Sometimes I think my friends who are married with children assume I’m not as busy as them or don’t have as many responsibilities, but it’s not true. I just have a different set of responsibilities and pressures.

As a single person who owns and runs her own business, I have a lot of pressures on me to get everything done without the help of a partner (or children old enough to earn an allowance). All the household responsibilities fall on me, and all the finances and expenses are covered by only one income.

It’s my name and reputation that’s at stake when something goes wrong in the business. The business is sometimes like a baby in that, on some days, it’s a never-ending 24–7 job.

Your challenges might be the same or might be totally different.

You can’t compare your situation to someone else’s because it’s likely you’ll be comparing apples to oranges.

Just look at your own responsibilities.

Which ones make you feel afraid or anxious?

Why are you afraid of them?

Keep digging and ask “why” until you’ve discovered the root of your fear.


5. Construct a worst-case scenario

Mackay says,

“When a certain situation makes you nervous, try to think of the worst thing that could realistically happen. Chances are the reality won’t be as devastating as you think, and examining the possibilities ahead of time will prepare you to avoid the potential pitfalls.”

Yes, I agree, it is good to do this.

However, if you’re the type of person who already has a bad habit of immediately going to the worst-case scenario, I suggest limiting the amount of time you spend constructing the worst-case scenario.

Instead, spend your energy shifting your focus, as described in #6.


6. Shift your focus

After you construct a worst-case scenario, you want to shift your focus to potential best-case scenarios.

Think about all the possible benefits and positive by-products of facing your fear.

By focusing on the potential positive outcomes, you reduce your anxiety and worry less.

7. Expect your fears to occasionally resurface

Mackay says to accept the fact that there will still be times when you feel fear or a lack of control.

This is true. There are still things that cause me to panic or become afraid. But because I’ve faced my fears in the past, new fears don’t have as strong of a grip on me now days.

Prepare yourself as best you can (by using the tips above and the ones in the related posts listed below) to handle potential risks that may cause anxiety or fear.

Mackay’s Moral:

“Don’t let your fears get in your head — get ahead of your fears.”


Once you begin to overcome some of your fears, you’ll be eager and ready to set more goals for yourself.

And if you want to not just set goals but achieve them, I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter. When you do you’ll receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.

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How to Hack Your Way to a More Passionate Life and Career

Life can often be mundane, causing you to feel stuck. Especially when you aren’t living and working in your purpose.

I remember what that felt like for me.

So how can you become more passionate about your life and your work?

How can you better enjoy both?

By following these 8 simple life and career hacks:


1. Try again at a previously failed attempt.

Most people will suggest you try something new and I’m all for that.

I’m a big believer in trying new things, whether it’s new food, a new hobby, or even something as simple as a new route to work.

But I also know it’s important to try something old. Especially something you once attempted and failed at before.

You may remember from my post 5 Ways to Discover New Passions, I shared how I failed at my first attempt at rock climbing and how something clicked after giving it a second chance.

This gave me more confidence and a greater interest in the activity, resulting in physical improvement in my body.

What’s something you can try again?

What would be the possible benefits of trying it again?

Free resource: 5 Ways to Pursue Your Passions in Life and Work: How to Overcome Obstacles + Achieve Job Search Success


2. Do one thing you can complete within 24–48 hours that will put you one step closer to achieving a long-term goal.

You can accomplish a large goal by taking a step-by-step approach.

Incremental steps add up to big achievements. Simply doing one small thing each day will help you develop habits necessary to reaching your goal.

What’s one thing you can do today to get you closer to achieving your bigger goal?

What’s one thing you can do tomorrow?

Ask yourself these questions every day.

Before you know it, you’ll have accomplished more than you thought you were capable of!

Source: Don’t Just Set Goals, ACHIEVE Them!


3. Understand how your strengths and skills benefit others.

Knowledge of what you’re good at is power, especially when trying to win a job interview or get promoted.

But knowing how your skills solve other people’s problems also helps you better understand your purpose, not just in work but also in life.

Think about your strengths and skills you possess both within and outside of your job.

How do they benefit others?

For example, my top spiritual gift is encouragement. I use this strength in so many aspects of my life, including my work, my interactions with friends, and when learning alongside others.

I’ve been fortunate to see how this gift helps people gain the courage to pursue their passions.

Source: Personal Branding: How to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic!


4. Update your resume every 6 months, even when you’re not looking for a job.

Because of my background as a career coach, I’ve helped thousands of people with their resumes.

I always tell them the same thing,

“Keep your resume updated every six months.”

Why?

  1. Because you never know when someone will ask for a copy of it.
  2. You never know when another career opportunity or promotion will come your way.
  3. It’s easier to remember what you’ve accomplished in the past six months than in the past six years if you find yourself in another job search down the road.

Source: Resumes That Get You the Interview: Surprising Secrets to Getting Your Resume Noticed


5. Ask 3 people who have your dream job how they got to where they are.

These conversations can open your mind up to ideas and opportunities you never before considered!

Listen carefully to their stories while asking a lot of good questions.

Learn not just from their successes but also from their failures.

You may find there wasn’t a straight line to their career path. There rarely is for most people.

This can give you confidence to pursue a new career path despite lack of formal education or direct experience.

Take their encouragement and advice.

Put it into action to see how far you can go in the direction of your personal and professional pursuits.

Source: The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively


6. Make a list of questions you’d ask if you were interviewing the interviewer.

People often forget the job interview is a two-way street.

You should always ask questions to help you make the right decision when faced with multiple offers.

Besides money, think about the things you’d need or want in your next job.

They could include similar core values, a flexible schedule, a culture that promotes “family first,” healthy living, etc.

Formulate a few questions you’d need to ask to determine if your next opportunity will provide those things.

Make sure to ask these questions in your next job interview, along with the other type of questions I outline in my Quora answer to “What are some interview hacks?”

Here’s what one of my clients experienced when she did this:

“One of the companies I interviewed with I decided not to accept any offers from them based on their answers to my questions so as not to get myself into the same work situation I was in previously. It is SO empowering to know what is good for me and to be able to say no! I have the tools now to spot the red flags and this has been helpful on several interviews. I am so glad to have this confidence.”

Source: Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety


7. Start a collection of your best work.

Curate a collection of your best work both from your job and your outside projects.

This can include personal things you’ve made (i.e. a book, a painting, etc.), and the projects your most proud of from your job.

Your body of work will help you see how your skills overlap.

But most of all, it will reveal your own career path thus far and where it might be pointing to next.

Source: The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers: Stand Out Above Your Competition


8. List the ways you’ve impacted the bottom line in your job.

When you’re working on hack #4, always include your on-the-job accomplishments and results of your efforts.

By focusing on results and not just your job duties, you’re able to easily see where you’ve had an impact, giving you a greater sense of purpose.

Also, it helps you confidently discuss your worth when it comes time to negotiate a new job offer, a promotion, or a pay raise.

Source: Make More Money, Without Taking a Second Job


When you follow these life and career hacks, you’ll start to see ways to become unstuck. Soon you’ll be living a more passionate, vibrant, and productive life!

For more life and career hacks, subscribe to the paNASH newsletter and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.

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When Was the Last Time You Challenged Your Limits?

I’ve viewed this YouTube video numerous times! I find it both fascinating and funny. It’s fascinating because of just how much the human body can be pushed beyond what we originally thought was its limits. And it’s funny to see how much what was once considered excellent has now become sub-par according to today’s standards.

What a difference 80 years makes, right? I wonder what these athletes would think or say if they could see the gymnasts of last year’s 2016 Olympics. They’d likely be shocked and amazed.

Improve By Pushing the Limits Incrementally

The differences between the gymnastics techniques of 1936 and and the ones of 2016 obviously didn’t occur overnight. These were incremental changes that happened over time. They evolved from those coaches and athletes who had a desire to always push the limits and improve.

What’s the best way to improve? To insert new, slightly more difficult challenges into your ordinary routine on a regular basis over time. This requires a little creativity, along with the ability to think just a few inches outside the box.

The challenges don’t have to be huge. They can start off with something as simple as raising the bar just a tad bit higher. Once you’ve mastered that, then you can add a small but new twist to the routine.

Looking Back

Think about the thing you excel best in. Looking back, can you remember when you first started out in this particular skill? Do you now find it funny how your initial efforts that once seemed difficult now seem ridiculously easy? Do you find it fascinating how far you’ve come since then?

Also looking back, when was the last time you challenged your limits, either in your best skill or even with a new skill?

Looking Ahead

Do you have a desire to improve your best skills or to learn something new? What’s something creative you can do to challenge your limits?

For me, I want to do two things. One, I want to improve my paddle board speed. I can tell my speed has plateaued and I’m overdue to learn some new paddle stroke techniques to help increase my speed. It’s time to challenge myself again by simply taking a paddle clinic the next time it’s offered.

Two, I want to learn to speak a foreign language, something that’s very new for me. This new desire comes from the fascination I had while on my mission trip with my interpreter’s ability to easily switch from one language to another.

This will be a big challenge for me. But there are several creative yet simple ways I can try to accomplish this goal. I can download an app on my phone that provides short, daily vocabulary lessons. I could look into doing some type of immersion experience. Or I could take a language class through one of the many MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) offered by universities like Harvard or Duke (well, maybe not Duke, since this diehard Tar Heel fan has some limits and has to draw the line somewhere).

What About You?

I’d love to hear how you plan to challenge your own limits, or how you’ve recently done so and the results of your challenge. Please share in the comment box below!

Need help setting goals that challenge your limits? Subscribe to the paNASH newsletter and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal Achievement Plan!