Recapping 2012 Part 4 of ??

 
Change your venueI saw a FB post a friend left yesterday and it reminded me that there are two types of people; ones who do nothing but complain, and others who take action to change a bad situation. Heather is a take action type of person who I’ve learned from (and will continue to learn from) over the years. Heather is asking What Next rather than just complaining about something. Sometimes you’re strong enough to change on your own terms and sometimes you have to reach the breaking point before you can change. You might think you’ve reached the breaking point but unless you take action and actually improve your circumstances, you will continue to endure all the bad things you complain about.

 

Comfortable Complainers

The breaking pointThe breaking point. Some people think they’ve reached it but no, they go on, complaining all the way. You know the person I’m talking about, the person who is so negative that they bring everyone else down with them. They hate their job, maybe hate their life, complain about their husband or wife, their family and friends. They never have a good thing to say and yet they do nothing about it.

If they really aren’t happy, if they are as miserable as they say, why don’t they do something about it? Why not find a new job? Why not get out of that bad marriage?

Those choices are reasonable but the fact is that these complainers are comfortable, unwilling to change in spite of their constant grumbling. These are the people who are surprised by a change they should have made on their own. When they lose the job they supposedly hated, they’re devastated, labeling the company as unfair or stupid.

Don’t be a comfortable complainer. Take action when things aren’t going your way. Change the situation or change your attitude, the choice is yours, but you have to change something if you want anyone to take you seriously, to continue wanting to be around you.

Is there anything you are unhappy about, want to change, but are more comfortable than you’re willing to admit? How are you going to change the situation? 


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Break Down to Build Up

 
Construction BeginsThis is the official blog announcement of my latest What Next. And this is the picture I took yesterday.

The caption I gave this picture on my new business’s Facebook page got me thinking. I wrote “First you have to break it down then you can rebuild.” I went on to give an example of a work out breaking down muscle in order to rebuild it stronger. There are bigger implications for this when applied to life.

A previous post called Your House Is On Fire is a great example. When Julie’s house burned down we couldn’t just build on top of the shell of a house that remained, we had to destroy it completely, leaving no trace of what was, and begin again. Someone who asks What Next embraces the idea of change, of breaking down what was to make room for what will be.

In business one name for this concept is creative destruction. The good news is that this destruction rarely needs to be complete. Partial destruction is usually all it takes, you get rid of the bad and keep the good. It’s a constant process like the workout I mentioned earlier.

The picture above shows construction beginning at the latest addition to the Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa family. this one is located in North Brunswick, NJ.

I have changed direction many times in my life and as I point out in the book, What Next, many people think that stems from a lack of focus. I am completely focused on the success of my spa but life demands that we focus on more than one thing at a time. I have many balls in the air and so far my juggling skills have held up.


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When You Can’t Go Left Go Right

No this is not a political Left Vs. Right post. It’s about overcoming obstacles and setting yourself up for success.

Brick WallIn What Next A Proactive Approach to Success I write “When you cannot go right, go left. When you cannot go left, go right. When both left and right are not available, keep going straight. Whatever you do, keep going.”

There have been many times in my life when I’ve put this into practice. As I write this I can think of three examples that are just perfect for the concept of maintaining momentum in spite of obstacles. Each one is related to the other in that the decisions I made in one instance provided the option for other decsions.

A Big Life Change

Tired of my career in 2006, I began exploring the option of starting over in a field I not only enjoyed but was very good at, financial planning. Though I was a broadcasting major in college, I wanted to also major in economics but I simply wasn’t that ambitious at that time. In September of 2006 a much older and wiser me made the decision to pursue a change, spending a total of $7,000 over the next two years to study, take the CFP exam, and travel to two Financial Planning Association conferences. The first obstacle was starting a new career from scratch. I knew that this would be a big change so I dramatically altered my spending habits in order to save as much money as possible to make starting at the bottom less of a financial burden.

If there is anything I’m good it, it’s saving money, and I exceeded my goal, saving enough that even a 60-70% pay cut would not derail my lifestyle. One obstacle was overcome. When I began job hunting in my new career, I found nothing to fit the narrow, principled criteria I set for myself. Once I decided not to make the change the question of what to do with the money I’d saved came up. If I hadn’t planned well and saved for the possibility of a smaller income, I would not have had this next option. I decided to completely remodel and convert my three family rental property at the Jersey Shore to a two family home maintaining one rental unit.

A Personal Choice

Welcome to my second obstacle. My plans and the town’s zoning laws didn’t agree and with the prospect of spending thousands of dollars just to find out that I would be prohibited from making the alterations to the property, I dropped my plan. Another change of direction. The question of what to do with the money remained. That’s when a simple conversation with a friend in California led me to consider and then decide to buy a second rental property in California.

Becomes A Decision For The Future

The goals changed as I was able to navigate the barriers I encountered but my options expanded and that is the goal of any action, to increase your options for success. Like a game of chess you have to think several moves ahead and recognize how the actions of others will affect your path to victory. If you can do that while increasing your choices then you are on your way to success.


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Change

 
ChangeMy latest newsletter The What Next Trail-Map to Success is out and the topic this week is change. I used this image for the newsletter and started to think of the link between actual change, coins, and change in our lives.

I like change, both the physical coin type and change in life. Each day I put the coins I’ve gotten into a jar and once it’s full I cash it in. It usually takes two to three years to fill up the jar. Not all change is immediate. My pockets fill up first, then I add to the jar. The growth I see as the money rises to the top is satisfying because I know I’m making progress. Change can be measured.

Some change is small, pennies for example, or the decision to dress better for work. Some change is a bit larger like a nickle or dime, decisions that bring you closer to your goal a little more quickly. Then there are the big changes, the quarters of life, the decision to leave your job or to start a business. These are the changes I like but as I’ve pointed out many times in my book and in previous posts, this is the change most people think is crazy or too risky.

Every once in a while I’ll get a dollar coin. I’m never quite sure what to do with those. Do I put them in the jar and wait until I cash it in? It would sure make the total higher if I did that. Maybe I’ll hold onto that and use it since it’s a fairly large amount, why wait? I do both, sometimes I put the dollar coins in the jar sometimes I keep   them. I don’t need change for change sake, I rather the change serve a purpose and that’s my goal in life.

I’m in the process of investigating a change, a big one, and as I’ve noted, Julie isn’t really on board yet. Julie handles her coin change differently, choosing to spend it rather than using bills and getting more change. And there we have the difference I want more change and she doesn’t.


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Comfortable Complainers

 

The breaking point. The breaking pointSome people think they’ve reached it but no, they go on, complaining all the way. You know the person I’m talking about, the person who is so negative that they bring everyone else down with them. They hate their job, maybe hate their life, complain about their husband or wife, their family and friends. They never have a good thing to say and yet they do nothing about it.

If they really aren’t happy, if they are as miserable as they say, why don’t they do something about it? Why not find a new job? Why not get out of that bad marriage?

Those choices are reasonable but the fact is that these complainers are comfortable, unwilling to change in spite of their constant grumbling. These are the people who are surprised by a change they should have made on their own. When they lose the job they supposedly hated, they’re devastated, labeling the company as unfair or stupid.

Don’t be a comfortable complainer. Take action when things aren’t going your way. Change the situation or change your attitude, the choice is yours, but you have to change something if you want anyone to take you seriously, to continue wanting to be around you.

Is there anything you are unhappy about, want to change, but are more comfortable than you’re willing to admit? How are you going to change the situation? 


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Adding Color

It was way back in June 1999 that construction on our house was completed. Julie and I were anxious to move in after designing it and watching it go from a hole in the ground to a home. We had to make some financial choices during construction so we wouldn’t go over budget but they were minor. One choice was putting linoleum in the entrance hall and kitchen rather than tile. This would be temporary we told ourselves (and it was if you consider 11 years and counting temporary). Another money saving decision was to not paint the living room and halls. Julie preferred white walls and we simply couldn’t agree on a color.

I like bold colors but Julie is much more conservative and likes very light colors when forced to choose. I began to see what the problem was when I decided it was time to paint our bedroom. Julie actually likes colors, even bold colors, but lacks the confidence to choose them. When presented with a choice she almost always goes with the lighter color. Once I convince her to try the bolder color, however, she usually likes it on the walls.

We’ve recently (finally after 11 years) painted the halls in the house. The entrance hall has gone from white (with lots of marks from years of abuse) to a deep and dark color we describe as charcoal green. The upstairs hallway was a bit more of a battle but is now a deep, not very vibrant, yellow/orange/brown. The kitchen got a new color a lighter green with hints of blue and gray using the same color that’s in the upstairs hall for trim. The dining room was also updated to a brown color. The half bath downstairs is the same color as the upstairs hall with one accent wall and the trim the same as the downstairs hall.

Downstairs Hall Upstairs Hall Bathroom

A painting frenzy has completely transformed the house and it feels new again.

Sometimes that’s all you need in life is a little color, a fairly simple change that can renew your enthusiasm for something that felt old or stale. Look around, look inward, and ask What Next. What small change can you make that will have a huge impact? This isn’t a New Year resolution, it’s a New You resolution – now make it real.


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Change

Often change is associated with progress but that doesn’t mean we’re happy about change when it occurs. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is a theory a lot of people might subscribe to and it’s not a bad thing.

Facebook’s recent change has a lot of people annoyed as did the other changes they’ve made in the past. notice no one is saying “we should go back to the way things were four versions ago.” With each change we got used to it and with each new change we want to go back, but only to the previous version.

With Facebook we don’t have a choice but when it comes to our own lives, the change we make is more in our control than we think. The desire for change may be prompted by something beyond our control but the power to change lies with us. Maybe a new boss makes work miserable for you, you have no choice about that, but you can decide to leave, to find a new job.

Rather than being caught off guard, asking What Next is about being proactive. Why not keep your eyes open for a new job opportunity even if you are happy at work? Why add to the stress that if things change you also have to put a resume together, make contacts, and otherwise begin the search?

Change is good, it shows progress. Sometimes the wrong kind of change is made but the good news is that can be changed as well.


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Life is like…

 
Make your own pathI haven’t been hiking in a while and I miss it. My favorite place to hike is the desert. The landscape and scenery is surprisingly diverse. One hike in particular took me from a low elevation scorched by the sun and heat to cooler, higher elevations among evergreen trees and snow. It was an amazing lesson in change and adaptation. Not only did the vegetation change the higher I climbed but so did the wildlife. I also had to change as the clothing I wore at the beginning of the climb, in the heat, would not be sufficient as I continued to a much cooler, even cold climate.

In order to be prepared for the various conditions the hiker must plan ahead bringing the proper clothing, enough food and water to name a few things. Another aspect of preparation is the conditioning that is necessary for longer, more strenuous hikes. Without planning for the change in climate or the difficulty of the hike you are at risk of failure, and failure at such an endeavor can prove fatal.

The hiker must also be honest with themselves and respect their limitations. Each hike builds upon the strength gained in previous excursions as you push a little farther each time. The distances I could go when I began hiking were significantly less than the distances I now travel. The equipment I carried early in my hiking was an indication of my lack of experience and over confidence. The equipment I now carry shows growth in my level of expertise as well as my respect for the endeavor. None of the following were in my pack on early hikes but are now: flashlight, heat blanket, nine volt battery, steel wool, and much more.

All these points have equivalents in life. The landscape of life is diverse indeed with incredibly hot times and very cold times and each of us has to be prepared for that change. People come and go from our lives as we continue on our path but each of them affects the direction we take. In order to be prepared for the different climates, and the difficulty of the journey of life, we have to plan ahead (but most don’t). The more we experience in life the more we can handle, just as a hiker who travels one mile can go two miles on their next trip. In life we need balance. We must be honest with ourselves, willing to admit when we need help but confident enough to test those limits. The packs we carry throughout life become heavier as we add new tools to aid us, but we should scarcely notice as our strength increases as well.

Life is like hiking, not exactly the same, but there are enough similarities that I use the hiking analogy throughout the book. Where will your hike take you?


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