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Stress, Rest & Relaxation

 Stress, Rest & Relaxation

We have all had those days where your job or maybe those individuals you work with might be causing you stress.  Maybe something you are dealing with in your personal life has caused you an immense amount of stress. In either case it might be an acute short-term thing or it may be more chronic and simply be part of your life, in any case, you need to deal with the situation and the stress it is causing you.

Epictetus, a Greek philosopher (A.D. 55-135) once said, “People are disturbed not by a thing, but by their perception of a thing.”  A person’s perception or view of what they believe they are dealing with can cause them a huge amount of stress in their life.  The American Institute of Stress states that one definition of stress is, “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”

One of the first things to managing stress is to understand what is causing you stress.  How did you feel, physically and emotionally?  How did you act in response to this situation?  What did you do to make yourself feel better?

The American Institute of Stress and the American Psychological Association lists the top 7 causes of stress as http://www.stress.org/daily-life/:

  1. Job Pressure
  2. Money
  3. Health
  4. Relationships
  5. Poor Nutrition
  6. Media Overload
  7. Sleep Deprivation

Daily stress from whatever our lives interact with can build up in many different ways and each of us should learn to handle it in our own unique way.  Everyone should have at least one healthy method, if not more, to bring us to a relaxed state of being and be able to rest.

Rest and Relaxation, also known as R&R, is needed by everyone.  We all have heard this simple phrase used before and what it means to each of us individually, is different.  Your first thought may be to simply get a good eight hours of sleep or maybe sleep in past your normal get-out-of-bed time. You may want put on a pair of headphones and listen to your favorite music.  You may think of viewing sunrises and sunsets or walking on a beach with your special someone as a form of relaxation. You may think of traveling and seeing parts of the world or engaging in an adventure that challenges you to new heights and pushes you to new limits as the ultimate relaxation or rest.  You may think of pampering yourself in an exotic spa undergoing different massages and relaxing treatments.  You may find making love as an excellent form of relaxation.  You may think of unencumbered time to simply indulge in a book or magazine you have wanted to read for quite some time.  Maybe going out to a movie, show or an event that allows you to engross yourself for a short time in something else and taking a break from your day-to-day challenges, is what rest and relaxation means to you.  Maybe prayer or meditating and cleansing your internal spiritual self and thereby entering a relaxed state are a great form of relaxation or rest for you. You may even consider simply spending conversational time over a meal with loved ones, family or friends as an excellent type of R&R.  Each of us relaxes in different ways and may need several types of unique rest from time to time.

One meaning for the word rest is “refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor”, taken from www.dictionary.com  and for me that is exactly what I am looking for with the first “R” in the phrase R&R.  But the phrase “R&R” has two “R’s” not one.  The second “R”, relaxation has a different meaning, “an activity or recreation that provides such relief; diversion; entertainment”.  As you can see, the first “R” is all about doing nothing or inactivity, the second “R” is all about doing something or engaging in an activity.  Rest and relaxation is all about not do and do.  Both are two sides of the same “R&R” coin.

Recently I enjoyed so much of the second “R” (days of being on the beach watching sunrises & sunsets), that I needed the first “R” to rest up.  To me that is the best use of “R&R”, relax by doing, then rest up by not doing.

In any event, learning to get a good night’s sleep, eat healthy, exercise regularly, laugh often, listening to music and simply talking with a good friend are very important to managing stress, relaxing and ultimately allowing you to rest.  That is a good place to start in handling any stress that may enter your life.

LifeLongU™ offers up a “Leisure” map to help an individual focus on different types of activities that help provide pathways to counter or reduce everyday stress.

Leisure Map    

©2014 Life Long Network – LifeLongU™ – Life Long Fulfillment Program: Leisure

Keeping focused in different areas of one’s life helps change from one state of being to another state of being, which helps a person think more clearly when faced with challenges.  We all have challenges in our life, some of us are just better equipped with managing them than others.  Make sure you have the tools to manage your stress and a leisure plan to rest and relax.  Life is short enough as it is and we need to learn to take time to rest and relax to fully enjoy all the remaining days of your life.

Gary J. Kiecker

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU.com

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A Focused Life

 A Focused Life

How often have you really sat back and took a good look at your life and wondered if you have achieved what you set out to do many years ago?  Do you remember what your intentions, goals or dreams were 20 or more years ago?  What did you believe your “life’s purpose” to be back then?  Is that purpose still what gets you going every day?  Has it changed any?

Reflecting back on your past can be a great method to help re-align your future plans.  Looking back and weighing the pluses and minuses of your life, as you remember them, will help you understand more about yourself and allow you to use some of your wisdom to make better decisions about your future.

There are many types of people that approach this reflection differently and if two people had the exact same experiences with their past, my guess would be that each would reflect and remember it in different ways.  Each would draw different conclusions on what was a plus and what was a minus.  Each would be correct, from their perspective, but still have only one point of view, theirs.  A singular point of view is not what you may want when planning your future, is it?  This singular point of view, because of its singularity, may tend to blind you from other options that are in front of you and because of this singular thinking pattern, you may not see or acknowledge potential options.  This is not to say that after all options have been uncovered, researched and weighed, and a plan for the future is determined and put in place, that this action plan cannot become a focus and somewhat a singular point of view.  In fact, this is how big goals are achieved.

The real trick here is to combine the exploration of options, which may tend to go all over the place and consolidate them into a focused plan for your future, a somewhat singular point of view.  But also as you work this plan to achieve your goal, you keep in mind to occasionally do a broad sweep outside of your area of focus and be aware of other potential opportunities.  Tunnel vision in life or business is not a characteristic successful people have.  Successful people are also not all over the place exploring the many options that can exist in life and prove to be large distractions.  A combination of both is really the best solution.

Working with another individual to play the counter role opposite your own role can benefit you and increase the probability of your plans future success.  If you do well at exploring options, find a partner, mentor or coach to help bring the singular point of view into an actionable plan and then execute it.  If you find that you do well at a singular point of view, then find a partner that excels at uncovering options and weed through them together and develop your future plan, and then again, execute it.

When developing any type of plan for your life, make sure your plan includes the exploration of six main areas:  Spiritual, Relationships, Financial, Philanthropy, Career and Leisure.  Too much time spent on any one of these can make you extremely out of balance and have a disastrous impact on your life.  Set out to create a singular focused action plan for each of the six life categories mentioned above, but use a broad sweeping method to explore and gather what you want from life first, then summarize each, develop your plan and put it into action.  Remember to use your partner, mentor or coach to balance your thinking and your efforts.  They should provide insight outside of your normal thinking pattern and may get you through difficult times which we all face in life, whether we plan for it or not.

Good luck and enjoy your life, it’s the one God made for you!

Gary J Kiecker

www.LifeLongU.com

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Help For Your Small Business & You

 Help for Your Small Business & You

When you own and operate a small business or are thinking of maybe starting one the act of hiring others to assist you in defining, fully understanding and growing your vision can play a crucial part in its future success.  Let’s face it, many small business owners are driven to succeed and spend much of their time in one or two areas of their business where they feel comfortable or excel at, like sales or operations.  Not paying needed attention to all areas like strategic planning, marketing, process improvement, pricing, finance, accounting, matching the right people to the right job function or motivating your employees can cause your business many additional challenges that simply can be avoided.

You may have built your business to where it is today by focusing only on certain key areas, but time needs to be spent on the other areas of your business as it grows, but it does not have to be your time.  Bringing in an outside set of eyes can get some of these activities done right away and bring a new perspective to you while helping your business succeed and grow to another level.

A qualified consultant, mentor or coach can listen and privately discuss how they see your business running and growing as a whole or in one of the areas you, as the owner, may not have time or the skills to spend developing.  They can act as a sounding board for your thoughts and should understand how you see your business working while playing devil’s advocate and brainstorming new ideas to help you create innovative ways to grow your business.  By using this type of professional person periodically you should be able to execute more strategic plans, accomplish more of your goals and increase your probability of further success while staying competitive in your market.  Have you thought of using someone like this as an avenue to further your business growth or fix some of the challenges your business faces?

There are many qualified people that can provide many different levels of professional help to you and your small business.  As a small business owner, you owe it to yourself to use these outside sources to assist you in perfecting your business processes and give you additional perspectives to consider.  Some of these professionals also will assist you with balancing your personal life as well as your business.

Below are some well known sources and organizations offering consulting, coaching and mentoring to individuals and small business owners:

Anthony Robbins is well known as a world authority on leadership psychology, successful entrepreneur and business strategist, philanthropist, award winning speaker and authority on peak performance and life coaching.  You might consider looking into his programs under Business Results Coaching. You can learn more at http://www.tonyrobbins.com/biography/

Michael Gerber is the well known author of the E-Myth as well as 13 other business coaching books.  He is considered to be one of the “best small business guru’s” assisting small businesses grow and prosper.  You might consider looking into one of his offerings called “The Dreaming Room”.  You can learn more at http://michaelegerbercompanies.com/web/about-michael/

Dave Ramsey  is well known as a trusted voice on money and business.  His four New York Times best-selling booksFinancial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover, and EntreLeadership have sold over 7 million copies combined.  You might consider looking into his seminars on building and growing a business.  You can learn more at https://www.daveramsey.com/company/about-dave/

SCORE  (Service Corp of Retired Executives) is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small business get off the ground, grow and achieve the business goals through education and mentorship of the owner.  With nearly 11,000 volunteers who offer you the business owner, real life experience and mentorship FREE, just for the asking, they are a great place to seek out qualified advice to start and grow your business.  They have been around for 50 years.

LifeLongU™  is about helping individuals and small businesses develop, grow and share with others while learning to chart your course and live your dreams.  LifeLongU™ helps you work on understanding and improving yourself, using your time wisely and developing additional income streams through small business development.  Their unique coaching approach may work well for a business owner to bring growth and balance to their personal and professional life.  You might consider looking into their programs at http://lifelongu.com/coaching/.

Local professionals in your area may also be a great source of help to you in areas you may not have time for or feel you are not qualified to run.  Many of them can bring unique knowledge from your local market and provide you with new insight if you simply give them a call.  These local professionals cover all types of areas including life and business; don’t be shy about calling several of them and discussing a challenge you may be facing.

This blog is intended to offer a business owner and entrepreneur some sources of outside help they may not have previously considered from like minded professionals interested in personal and business growth and development.  I look forward to your comments below…

 

Gary J. Kiecker

LifeLongU™

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The Best Man You May Ever Meet

The Best Man You May Ever Meet

When you meet any man for the first time, have you ever considered you might have just met one of the best men you may ever meet in your life? What about when they walk away after meeting you, do you think they might be wondering that very thought about you?  Is it possible, did either of you just meet one of the best men you may ever meet? Have you been trying to be such a man; a real genuine role model for others?  Where would you meet such a man?  Would you meet him in the places you frequent?  Take a minute and think about that?

I wrote this blog for my male readers, but my  female readers may find it interesting as well. A genuine man needs to ask these types of questions about himself.  In this day and age a man needs to have a high level of integrity mixed with strong moral values and actually live by them.  This makes him who he is and is no easy task to live by.   In the story of King Arthur’s court, you hear about the Knights of the Round Table and how honorable they were or tried to be?  Would you be able to live up to their code of values?  Can you be one of the best men someone may ever meet, a knight of the round table?  Wouldn’t you like to be part of this group of men?

The world seems to be filling up with men that think it is okay to lie, cheat, steal and behave dishonorably for the sake of getting ahead in business or in life.  After all, as long as you really don’t hurt anyone, this behavior seems to be somewhat okay to some men, or at least it appears that they feel the gains outway the risks of getting caught or found out about.  Others may see you and although they may not say anything, they will certainly think less of you and that should mean something, shouldn’t it?  Even if no one sees your behavior, you and the Lord will know what you did.  What does that do to your self- esteem, honor or soul long-term?

It is not easy to be the best man that someone else may ever meet.  The best man you will ever meet is thoughtful and kind to his family, friends, neighbors as well as strangers.  He turns the other cheek when affronted; yet he still knows when to stand up for himself or others who are in need.  The best man you will ever meet knows that chivalry is not dead, that women should be treated with respect and dignity.  He knows women are to be placed first, held high and honored by a man.  He knows that women and men are not equal, that each has unique characteristics that far exceed the other sex in many circumstances, and this is okay.  He knows that this would be like comparing apples and oranges and by saying they are equal or one is better than the other.  The best man you will ever meet knows his priorities and keeps them straight.  He places God first, takes care of his family next while making sure he is healthy and well-balanced in mind, body and soul so he can strive to be one of the best men you will ever meet. The best man you will ever meet is humble, he knows where his blessings come from, is thankful for them, but is also confident and uses his God-given abilities to their fullest in everything he does.  He tries to follow and uphold God’s laws, nature’s laws and the laws of man, which can be very difficult at times.

For years I have been telling my son and daughter that when facing a tough challenge in life, look at all possible solutions and 9 times out of 10, the tougher path will be the path they should choose.  That path when taken should solve their challenge and make them a stronger person for having traveled it.   When you commit to something, commit to it; when you give your word, stand by it; respect yourself and others will respect you and when faced with tough challenges, explore possibilities and strongly consider taking the tougher path and be better for it.

The world is full of men that are in leadership roles today, roles that many others look up to and admire.  Men from the entertainment industry in Hollywood, men in sports, men in politics, men in business and men in religion; all these men have many followers because of their position in life and need to set a good example.  Regardless of your position in life, you still need to set an example, you never really know who is watching you, what they might be thinking or what effect you being their role model might have on their life.

You never know who you might meet today that may walk away thinking you were one of the best men they have ever met.  Make sure to be that man.

 

Gary Kiecker

LifeLongU™

 

I strive to practice and live up to what I write about and hope it helps others online to do the same…

I welcome your comments and thoughts about this topic and invite you to visit

www.LifeLongU.com to read and learn more about a company dedicated to helping U.

 

 

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Who Was Thankful For You This Year?

 Who Was Thankful For You This Year?

Is Thanksgiving a day of the year, a state of mind, a way of life or the start of the retail shopping season?  Did you give thanks yesterday for only those blessings you have been given lately or do you give thanks for them all year around?  When you give thanks, do you thank the Lord for putting someone else in your life that had a significant impact in your life?  Have you made any significant impact in anyone else’s life?  Do you think you were on someone’s list of what they were thankful for this past year?

There are many things we all should be thankful for.  Consider if you were born in another part of the world?  Say Europe, Africa, South America or Asia?  What if you were born at a different point in time?  Say 1655 AM1 (Anno Mundi “year of the world” or 2349 BC “Before Christ”; approximately one year before the flood), 32 AD (when Jesus Christ was 32 years old, 1492 AD (Christopher Columbus finds the new world) or 1929 AD (the start of the USA Great Depression).

You were born to live at this point of time in your current location of the world for a reason.  What that reason is, only you can decide.  What you do or don’t do with your time while here, only you can determine.  If you are living your life and doing things with a focus to only improve your current situation, then you may need to broaden your scope of thinking and step into a lifestyle that includes doing things for others in need and next year you may be on a few more thankfulness lists.

When giving thanks for your blessings or when helping others to improve their situation in life, consider these LifeLongU™ Life Categories:

Career – What can you give thanks for in your career and how can you help another’s career blossom?

Financial – Are you being a good steward with what the Lord has blessed you with?  Have you given thanks for those blessings? Are you giving some back to Him?  Are you being a Good Samaritan and helping others in need?

Spiritual – Have you given thanks for being born into a Christian country and that you have the right and ability to worship and praise God openly and share his word with others?  Are you thankful for being able to freely study His word, the Bible?  How are you doing with your studies?

Relationships – We are all in many types of relationships; have you given thanks for having those relationships?  Are your managing them properly? Are you thankful for those that went before you which helped to pave the road for you to get to where you are today?

Leisure – Freedom to use our time as we see fit with either work or play is a large blessing we should never take for granted.  Have you given thanks for it?  Are you using your time wisely?  Get out and enjoy the world you live in and be thankful for it.

Philanthropy – Have you given thanks for your ability to give to others of your time, money or things?  Have others thanked you for your being there when they needed you?  It is rewarding to help others and nice to hear from others that you were able to help them.  In all things, give thanks, which is also giving.

We all have challenges in our everyday lives and may feel that they are too much for us to bear.  But many of these challenges can be viewed as opportunities by others to help you.  By allowing others to help you, you also help them.  In the upcoming years of my life, I look forward to helping others with some of their challenges and allowing myself to be helped by others.  By this mutual giving and receiving of help we can both be thankful.

We can do so much more with the blessings the Lord has giving us if we only think outside of our box.  Just to remind us what “our box” is…it’s the way we see our surroundings, the way we think about things and the way we act or take action in the world in which we live.  It’s a big big place and if we step out of our comfort zone, our box, we can certainly do more in years to come that others will be thankful for too.  I believe it is our responsibility to see our box for what it is, a grouping of self-imposed walls we put around ourselves that keep us feeling safe in our environment.  To reach our true potential we need to step out of that box and help those that we currently share the world with and they may add you to their list of things to be thankful for next year.

Why not set a goal for Thanksgiving Day, 2015 to be on at least one or more lists that others are giving thanks for.

 

Gary Kiecker

LifeLongU

We appreciate your comments and welcome any thoughts or questions regarding this blog or on future topics.

 

 

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Living “The Life” of 100 Years, (Part 3, Yearning)

Living “The Life” of 100 Years

Part 3 – Yearning Years

They say that hindsight is 20/20 meaning that when we look back in our life, we see much more clearly what we should have done at different points over our life; positive or negative as that may be.  More times than not, I think we tend to focus too much on decisions we made that we believe were incorrect at the time we made them and if we would have chosen a different path our current situation in life would be different.  Much better of course!

As we age and daily face different challenges and opportunities in our lives, the number of decisions we make piles up for each of us.  The negative outcomes of those decisions around doing or not doing something correctly or incorrectly in our past may be seen as regrets; based entirely from our current singular viewpoint at this time.  Regrets or disappointments about our past choices are not something we want to look back on in our life. What regrets do you have so far in your life?  Are you making better decisions today about the many tomorrows you have coming up in your future? Are you using your past to make a better tomorrow for you and for your family?

The simple truth is that today is the day that you create your yesterday.  Tomorrow, you will look back at this very point in time which will be in your past. With this simple passing of time, the quiet rotation of the hour hand on a clock, those things you do today will soon be in your past and you will be looking back at them tomorrow.  Make sure tomorrow, you do not regret what you did or did not do today.   Make sure your today matters!  Deep isn’t it?  It should be, after all, this is “Your” life.

This blog “Yearning Years“ is part 3 of a three part series titled, Living “The Life” of 100 Years.  It follows part 1, “Learning Years” and part 2 “Earning Years” published earlier on www.LifeLongU.com .

The series is intended to show that over the course of our life, hopefully around 100 years or so, most of us live through three different phases.

The first phase is “Learning” and covers about the first 35 years of our life.  Here we learn how to take care of ourselves, our families, strengthen our body, sharpen our mind, ponder our soul and how best to interact with others.  In this phase we learn how to think and learn how to do many different things.

The second phase is “Earning” and covers the middle part of our 100 year life or about age 35 to 65 years or so.  In this phase, our life becomes more focused on earning by applying what we learned in our earlier years.  In this phase the better you apply what you have learned may impact your earning potential greatly.  Obviously, money is not everything, but we should earn to our true God-given potential and use those blessings for His intended purposes. Our learning never really stops in life, whether in school or in our daily lives, applying your knowledge or making educated decisions while taking action are what matters.  Learn from your mistakes.  Positive action is what moves us forward, increasing opportunities for growth of all kinds in our lives.  Amassed and unutilized knowledge can lead to arrogance and waste.

The third phase is “Yearning” and it covers the last portion of our life; those years after we leave the earning phase, typically after 65 years or retirement.  In this phase, if we learned well in our learning phase and applied what we learned during our earning phase, our yearning phase could be filled with many possibilities. The yearning phase is about fulfilling your true life purpose, completing those things you have not done and always wanted to do, about coming to understand that all things come to an end and how will you enjoy your final years.  It’s also about surrounding yourself with family, friends and memories.  Since you tend to have more discretionary time, it’s about giving back to others and sharing your wisdom, wealth and efforts.

This phase can also hold the most fear for us; although we each deal with it differently.  The thoughts of aging, not having adequate funds to do what we always wanted to do, the chance of poor health affecting our inability to do what we always wanted to do and the loneliness because of loss of loved ones, friends and family members all affect this phase. Some of these will most certainly happen to each of us and that is not something we want to dwell on, but is a fact of life.

Make sure that today matters.  Make sure that when your days are piled on top of each other, the combined total of what you did with them supplies you with what you want from life.  Take responsibility for your life.  Make sure that you have a plan for your life, that you use what you have learned and recognize that you may not know it all and may need help in some areas.  Make sure you take action and seek out those that want to help and get their help.  Don’t enter the “Yearning” phase filled with regrets but prepare to enter it with eagerness and truly Living “The Life” of 100 Years.

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU.com

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“The Big Cheese”, Leadership

 The Big Cheese, Leadership

Every organization has a leader, even the organizations you belong to. Every entity, every company, every City, County, State and Country has a leader.  The leader is the person who is responsible for the direction of the organization they lead.  The leader makes sure strategic direction has been defined for the organization, that precise future goals are set and resources are available to accomplish those goals.  The leader is the person out in front, “the big cheese”; they get everyone to march to the same step.  The leader is the one the rest of the organization sees as the one to follow and the one person the followers trust most to make good decisions improving the organization so it benefits its stakeholders, which includes the followers.

Where would you follow your leader?  Are you following your leader?  Do you know what your leader stands for?  Do they work to benefit themselves or the organizations stakeholders?  How many different leaders are you following?

Over the years many different types of individuals have held leadership positions.  Some seek it out while others have it thrust upon them.  Some individuals rise to the occasion and do a fantastic job leading their organizations, while others, do not.

In my opinion a good leader should have the following traits:

  • Is a person with integrity; you either have it or you do not;
  • Believes in the Bible; adding nothing and taking nothing out;
  • Honors the value and concept of developing trust within the organization they lead;
  • Knows that many others are following and watches out where they step;
  • Is disciplined; saying yes or no can be very difficult when weighing different outcomes;
  • Believes in being a user of knowledge not simply one that wants to know it all;
  • Learns from their mistakes, admits them and moves along; we all make them;
  • Is a good neighbor and treats everyone like the leader themselves would want to be treated;
  • Builds strong teams to assist with the leadership responsibility;
  • Is someone that leads to a desired destination or gets out of the way;

Being a leader is not for everyone.  It’s a hard path to follow, especially when you are leading thousands of followers with many eyes on your every move.  But even when leading small groups, if you lack many of the traits listed above you may find it very difficult to be a successful leader and to stay in a prime leadership role.  Sometimes it may be better to support a good leader, rather than lead yourself and in these instances, again remember the traits listed above, they work well for us all, even when supporting a good leader.

Here are several great quotes by an amazing leader, Abraham Lincoln:

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm”;

“Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but leave him when he is wrong”;

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”;

 “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward”.

 

If you are going to be a leader, “The Big Cheese”, be one, but be a good one.

 

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU.com

 

 

 

 

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Living “The Life” of 100 Years, (Part 2, Earning)

Living “The Life” of 100 Years

Part 2, Earning Years

 

Last week I posted part one “Learning Years” of a three part series called Living “The Life” of 100 Years. This week we continue with “Earning Years”, the next 35 years of our 100 year life.

Have you ever considered living a lifetime of 100 years?  What does it really take to do such a life feat?  What type of planning should be involved?  You may think you will never live that long, but what if you do?  What if the Lord blesses you with long life?  Will you be ready for your golden years, mentally, physically, spiritually, financially?  Have you been using your knowledge to improve your earnings in life so far, or have you simply taken a job to collect a paycheck and allow life to happen to you?

We tend to spend a lot of our time predominately focused on generating income and accumulating wealth since it is the time when most of us are at our peak earning years, from 35 to just around 70.  As we enter the “Earning Years” phase many of us have completed a desired level of schooling, have an education in our intended field of interest along with a fair amount of work experience in an industry we have sought out or ended up in.  In any case, as we move through our 30’s and 40’s, we have a value to offer the job market, and the job market has an amount it will reward us with.  Hopefully, the job market reward is equal to or higher than our own calculated value.

In today’s job market, which has become global, we now have a lot of competition from around our own geographic area as well as around the world.  Jobs that have been around for many years may be gone, may have relocated or the skills needed to do them have dramatically changed and may continue to change.  While we are in our “Earning Years”, we need to continue our learning and educating ourselves with new skills that keep us competitive and make us more desirable in the job market, or risk the value we bring to the job market and therefore risk a decrease in our earnings.  This tends to happen as we age.  The younger individuals entering the job market simply have more modern skills needed by business, while the older generation’s skills, although impressive, become less valuable because the job market now needs the more modern skills learned and offered by a younger generation.  Consequently, as we age, we may find our earning power decrease in value because of new skills required (which we may not have learned or bothered to add to our skills inventory) and also because there will be more unemployed individuals applying for those fewer jobs of old.  It becomes pure supply and demand; fewer jobs with more qualified applicants willing to settle for less value drives down the amount the job market offers for a position, and you end up making less.

Since the “Earning Years” is a bell curve rising in the third and fourth decades of our life, and falling in the sixth and seventh, it is very important to plan during this feast of earnings time.  If you fail to focus on putting away some of your gains during this phase, your “Yearning Years” may be filled with a lot of regret.

Working in your career is only one way to earn.  Can you think of any others?  Individuals that are truly successful in this phase of their life learn to multiply their earning potential by adding additional streams of income.  Some have a second or even a third job, some develop a hobby and learn to make extra income from it, some purchase real estate and learn the fix, flip and rental business, others may simply start a small business and still others may find extra money to invest in someone else’s start-up or ongoing successful enterprise.

One key element to be aware of with developing any of these additional streams of income is your time.  If you work a second or third job, obviously, you need to be there in order to get paid.  There are only so many hours in a day and assuming you need to sleep, your earnings will be limited by the amount of time you can effectively work at adding value.  Likewise with a hobby, you need to do the work, unless you can turn it into a small business; and by small business, I mean create a product or service that makes you more than just an hourly wage.  Your small business needs to create income for you (the owner) without you working in it all day, every day.

If you intend to develop additional streams of income and want to work less and make more you will need to focus on products and services that add value to a customer, and allow profit for you (the owner).   Focus on businesses that have the potential to create wealth for you in multiple ways.

Take real estate rental property for instance…you purchase a property, fix it up and rent it out.  Assume in this simple example you have a positive cash flow situation, a long-term low maintenance renter and a strong housing market. Over time, the rents collected pay off the mortgage on the property; increasing your equity (which is value to you) leaving you with a little extra cash each month (which is value to you) and the property appreciates in market value (which again, is value to you).  With an example like this, market timing and deal structure are very important as well as the amount of time you have to consistently work to maintain this income stream.  This is one example of creating an income stream that can generate wealth in several different ways while you still work your career or job.

A different example can be a small business.  If you start and build a small business, you may find that certain small businesses can provide you with a salary which replaces your current job; it may also supply many benefits and perks that replace existing expenses you may now be paying for out of your current jobs paycheck; if successfully run, it can provide additional profits to you (the owner) besides your normal paycheck; and again if successfully run, it may provide you with more time to do other things during your day besides work;  or you may be able to sell the business, it’s equipment, buildings and other assets at some point for a large cash payout to do with as you choose.  Small business is a good way for many individuals to grow their earnings and wealth doing nothing more than getting up and working everyday…isn’t that what you are doing anyway?

The United States of America is still a land of opportunity.  You can live here, work, receive a competitive wage for the value you provide and live a better than average life (when compared to the world at large).  You can own multiple pieces of property that can over time increase your earnings and wealth.  You can start, own, run and sell a small business that will also increase your earnings and wealth.

But to do this, it takes planning.  It takes some additional resources that you may not be comfortable or knowledgeable in using.  It takes others that have those skills to advise, coach and mentor you.  It takes you to want to maximize your “Earning Years” now, knowing that they will decrease over the years to come.

If you think it may be too late to start a business, consider what can happen over a short span of time:

Twitter is 8 years old, Market Cap Value of over $24 Billion

Facebook is 10 years old, Market Cap Value of over $207 Billion

LinkedIn is 12 years old, Market Cap Value of over $29 Billion

Google is 16 years old, Market Cap Value of over $373 Billion

Sitting down and constructing a life plan at this point in your life will be very helpful to you and your future.  A life plan and the right professional coach will help you learn to earn more in your “Earning Years” phase and provide a more disciplined structure for staying focused as well as persisting through difficult times.

Are you in your “Earning Years” phase?  How much are you earning?  How many income streams do you have coming in?  What is your potential to add more?  Why haven’t you done this already?  Where will you be 10 years from now (don’t forget about Facebook and Twitter, both are under 10 years old)?  Let’s not have any regrets as we age…

Next week we conclude this three part series, Living “The Life” of 100 years with part three, “Yearning Years”.

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

 

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Living “The Life” of 100 Years, (Part 1, Learning)

Living “The Life” of 100 Years

Part 1, Learning Years

 

Have you ever considered living a life time of 100 years?  What does it really take to do such a life feat?  What type of planning should be involved?  You may think you will never live that long, but what if you do?  What if the Lord blesses you with long life?  Will you be ready for your golden years, mentally, physically, spiritually, financially?  Have you been applying the knowledge you learned in life to improve your life so far?

100 years is 36,525 days (365.25 days in a year x 100 yrs). Even in today’s terms, that is a long time.  However in an earlier time, a time discussed in detail in the Bible, individuals lived much longer.  In Genesis 5:27, the Bible says, “Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died”; Methuselah, being one of the oldest long lived men on record, if not the oldest.  Can you just imagine the type of planning that would be needed to live that long in today’s time?

Consider also, that God later in Genesis 6:3 mentions man should live to be approximately 120 years old.  Given that information, along with living a healthy lifestyle, consistently working daily at some God pleasing task and being assisted with the correct balance of pharmaceuticals it is very likely we may live close to being 100 if not longer and we should all plan accordingly.  What is your life long plan for your future?

How foolish is the thought of retiring at the age of 65 when you consider possibly living to the age of 100…much less 969.  It is true that many of us do not make it that long, but what if you do?  An article appearing on the Huffington Post website in November, 2013 at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/21/us-life-expectancy-oecd_n_4317367.html  tells today’s story of long life and to what age men and women are living too on average, around the world.  In the USA, women average around 81 years and men around 76 years and increasing year by year.

As I write this article, I have two children that have both completed over ¼ of their 100 year life; they are still in what the life line above shows as the “Learning Years”.  I myself have completed ½ of my 100 year life and am in what the life line above refers to as “Earning Years”.  Both my parents have almost completed ¾’s of their 100 year life and are just entering their “Yearning Years” phase.  Depending to what age we actually will live too, we will move through all phases mentioned above; starting on the far left with learning, then moving right to earning, then still farther right to yearning.

In the “Learning Years” we spend much of our first 30 or so years learning; first from our parents, then from teachers and educational organizations and then on our own.  Our first 10 years of life, our first decade, is spent heavily under our parents constant care. Here our learning starts with very simple life skills and communication and then progresses as fast as our parents and educators will teach us.  In our second decade, from 10 – 20 years, we start our process of moving beyond our parents care and their education and on to others ideas and concepts.  Here we begin to have a glimpse of whom we think we may become.  Our first 20 years of life, although viewed by ourselves as our entire life at that age, is really small and somewhat insignificant when compared to whom we may really be in the world as we age.  We simply may not be aware of this yet and may not fully see our potential for many more years.  By the time we hit our next decade, the 20-30’s, we are young adults and the childishness falls away from “most” of us and the world takes a firm hold of our life.  Many of us are still learning…learning about the opposite sex, serious dating, marriage, owning a home, having children and raising a family, a full time job or career, sharing and balancing our finances and how to handle our many responsibilities;  but still learning.

This learning phase is very important.  An education comes from many areas and not only from schools.  In today’s time, we can literally learn almost anything we would like and have the aptitude for.  The knowledge we learn is important, but applying what we learn is more important and persistence in applying what we learn more important still.  Many of us have failed to learn why we learn in the first place and then how to apply what we did learn.  Failing to apply what we learn, not applying discipline in our lives and not finishing something once we start it will have major impacts as we age and move through the upcoming decades of our 100 year life.  To live a successful life, we simply must have the discipline to apply what we learn and be persistent on obtaining those life goals that matter to us.

Sitting down and constructing a life plan at this point in your life will be very helpful to you and your future.  Continuously working on a life plan from year to year with professionals throughout your life after the age of 25 or so can help you have an even more successful impact.  A life plan and use of professional coaches will help you apply what you learned and provide a more disciplined structure for staying focused as well as persisting when things get difficult.  A disciplined focus and attention to what matters most will help you with your relationships, assist you in building a retirement nest egg and provide balance in all other areas of your life (spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally), while creating positive memories and joy in your life.

I look at the 100 life line and see where I was 25 years ago (where my children are now – learning) and where I may be 25 years in the future (where my parents are now – yearning) and ponder how best to advise my children, learn from my parents and continue to apply what I have learned so far in my own life.

Are you applying what you have learned to improve your own life?  Are you learning from your parent’s successes and mistakes?  Are you still advising your children on suggested paths they can take, or not take?

Next week we continue this three part series, Living “The Life” of 100 years with part two, “Earning Years”.

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

 

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8 Small Business Challenges

 8 Small Business Challenges

Running a small business today takes a lot of determination, stamina and problem solving skills by the owner if they want to even attempt to run a business.  If they intend for it to prosper and grow, they will still be faced with many waves of challenges that may knock them off their feet from time to time.  A small business owner will need to be aware of, understand and will probably have to address each challenge at some point in their business.  Let’s look at eight challenges that may need to be addressed.

  1. The Owner Themselves

An entrepreneur is a special class of person that has something that is driving them to start a business in the first place.  It could be a passion or they may have something to prove, whatever their reasons for starting the business, chances are they will be lacking in certain knowledge and skills.  They may excel in some areas and they may be able to work 22 hours a day to make up for a lack of some knowledge, but at some point time, their fatigue and uncertainty, while trying to do it all alone may get the best of them.  A business that is largely dependent on the owner can only grow to the point of that owner’s ability, willingness and time spent on getting things done.

  1. Lack of Direction, Strategy and Planning

An ability to solve most problems as they come up is another of the entrepreneur’s talents but solving day-to-day problems will only get a business so far.  Time has to be spent by the owner working on the business thinking through possible strategies, coming up with plans and providing direction or vision for the employees.  This planning action, besides being necessary for the business and its growth, helps provide the employees a path to follow and see how they might fit in with the company’s long range future.  It also may help the owner rest a little easier at night.

  1.  Technological Innovation and Information Overload

A small business owner and their team usually are spread pretty thin and wear many hats.  Usually, someone within the company is dealing with someone outside the company to make all the technology work correctly.  Needed improvements or upgrading to a more innovative technology is usually shunned because of the lack of skills or disruption it would cause within the company.  This along with not fully using all the available data being generated within your company to aid in making key decisions puts the small business owner at a huge risk when savvy new competitors enter your market.

  1.  Regulation and Risk Management

Many small business owners may not deal with heavy regulation or have large product liability risks to manage so they may not worry so much about this wave.  But the ocean of business is large and waves are always being created.  The new healthcare mandates may certainly change the need for small business to spend more time focusing in this area to stay in line with regulations as new law is finalized and takes effect.

  1.  Gaining Customers and Their Loyalty

Gaining and keeping loyal customers has always been the name of the game for most small businesses.  In fact, sometimes you have a customer before you have a business.  But once you are in business a marketing plan needs to be created, even if on a very small scale.  The process you go through to develop a marketing plan helps you look at and understand your customers.  What do they purchase?  What are the average sales; total annual sales?  Is one or two of your customers generating a large share of your revenue; your profits?  What type of leverage or risk might they place on you?  What other products can be sold: at what margins?  These are all questions the small business owner needs to be asking to survive and grow.

  1.  Cash and Resource Management

How your cash is generated in your business is a must for each owner to fully understand.  Where is the cash being tied up?  If in inventory, how can it be converted quickly into cash?  If it’s tied up in receivables, how can it be collected?  What type of lending arrangements do you have with your bank?  Most lending to small business has been seen by many bankers as more risky over the past years and is not likely to improve.  What else in your company has value if sold or can generate new revenue?

  1. Hiring and Training The Right People

A small business work environment or culture is made up from the main body of its employees.  A small business owner needs to attract, hire, train and keep motivated its core group of employees.  If one leaves or is not satisfied in the company, it can cause quite a problem.  These are the people that help you attain the lifestyle you are looking for by being a small business owner; a lifestyle that can be had from owning a successful small business.  Find out if you core group is happy, if they are not, make them happy or make a change.

  1. The Right Level of Quality For Growth

Each small business owner should determine what they want their business to be and if they are working through a strategic plan, they should be able to see what the size potential is for their specific business.  They should also understand what level of quality their product needs to be to satisfy their customers.  If the quality is too low, but adequately priced, you may lose customers who want a higher quality product.  If the quality is higher than what your customers are looking for and competitively priced, you may be losing margin.  In either scenario, you should always understand what your quality strategy is, your future growth and profit depend on it.

There are many opportunities for different small businesses in America today.  If an entrepreneur uses their talents, skills, abilities and resources effectively, they can prosper and become one of those that can live a lifestyle only dreamed about by most.  That lifestyle is given to those that run a successful small business.

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™