Monday, April 18, 2011

2010 Roth IRA contributions

In case you still have not made your Roth IRA contribution for 2010, you can still do it today! According to my bank, you just need to mail in a check post-marked with today's date, April 18, 2011.

Also, here is a blog post with (relatively) quick tips to improve your financial health today:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Forcing Functions

I think the most important skill a successful person has is to be able to see things through till the end and to not give up.

How many projects, diets, fitness goals, etc have you set out to accomplish but never could? Being dedicated, devoted and fully committed to something, anything, is extremely difficult at times. Anything worth doing will tend to make you question what you're doing, how you'll get to where you want to be, and if what you're trying to accomplish is even possible.

Forcing functions can be an important and even necessary component of becoming successful. In your quest for not giving up and seeing things through, forcing functions can be the key to staying on track. For example, if you know you want to lose weight, but have trouble sticking to a regular gym routine, you could make a forcing function to get to the gym at least 5 days a week. For example, if you ordinarily have a hard time waking up and going to the gym, you could leave your body wash at the gym as your forcing function to go to the gym in order to shower up for the day. Once you're in the gym, you'll wind up having a much easier time actually working out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What is your essence?

When most people think about what they want out of a job, they immediately think about practical concerns: How much money am I going to make? What are the benefits offered? Am I qualified for the position? And the list goes on.

What we rarely stop to think about and articulate is if a job will nurture and support our essence, which is composed of our core values. There are no "right" or "wrong" core values. They are whatever makes you who you are and what you find important (e.g., camaraderie, health, personal development, personal fitness, respect, honestly, team work, fun, etc.).

If you do not feel satisfied or fulfilled in your current position, your job or company might infringe on one or more of your core values, thereby making you feel unsettled and anxious. Having this feeling day in and day out, wears on you and affects other aspects of your life. This is not in an environment that will allow you to attain a happy and fulfilling career or life.

I believe this also applies to relationships. If there are people in your life whose actions violate your core values, it might be best to minimize contact with them to enable you to have more time to spend with people who will help you develop and explore whatever it is that you value.

If you make it a priority to constantly seek out jobs and people who support and enhance your values and who will influence your life in a constructive and positive way, you are more likely to live a healthier and happier life.

How do you figure out what your core values are?
Think about and then describe to a friend a time when you felt completely happy and fulfilled. Spend about two minutes describing as much as you can about the event or period in your life. Once you finish, have your friend reflect back to you what values they picked up on.

This exercise is interesting because you will find that your friend will probably point out something you thought was assumed to be normal for everyone, when in fact, it is not.

If you are feeling uncertain about your life or career, I would recommend a professional life and career coach, such as Jung Yoo at Jung Yoo Associates, whose two-hour group session I attended inspired this post. I also encourage you to read Seth Godin's Poke the Box, which emphasizes the importance of initiating.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

To take care of others, you must first take care of you

In the midst of working 10-hour days (on average), preparing meals, keeping up with household chores, miscellaneous errands, etc. it can become very easy to put yourself on the back burner. Naturally, we want to first take care of those we love, and if time permits we will then move onto ourselves.

If you take the time to first help yourself by reading, exercising, dressing nicely, eating well, etc. you'll surely be more confident, thoughtful and rational. This is the type of person who inspires change and helps others to be their best. If you're unhappy and unconfident, you cannot inspire others to be this way.

A great example of this is when flight attendants give their safety speech before take-off. We're always reminded to comfortably place the oxygen masks on ourselves first, then we are to proceed with helping others. Why? How can we save others if we haven’t saved ourselves? We must be alive and thriving to be able to pass this along to those we love. By not taking care of ourselves, we are not only doing our own selves a disservice, but we are also hurting those we care most about.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Be kind to yourself

Be kind to yourself. This is something I have heard a few times from different sources over the last month. The concept is simple, but so important to remind yourself of every now and then, if not every day. Having compassion for yourself can completely change your perspective on a situation and positively impact your mental health.

What does this mean? Whenever you find yourself feeling down, stressed out, or in a bad situation, think about how you would treat a friend or family member one in the same position, and then react to your situation in the same way. You will be surprised how much harder you are on yourself than you are on others!

Here's a great TED Talk to watch that touches on the subject: