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Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 Life Guiding Decisions

The articles that I get in my email each week from Little Things Matter have been a great help to me.  Here is one that has some great information that can help us all.  Everyone should go to the site and be added to their email list!

10 Life Guiding Decisions
Listen to the Podcast
There's no denying the fact that our lives are a mirror image of the decisions we make. Sure there may be a rare exception—such as a major health challenge— but in the big picture of life, we are where we are today based on the decisions we made in the yesterdays.
The key to living a happy and fulfilling life is to make wise decisions; decisions about where you live and work; decisions in how you treat and interact with others; decisions about how you spend money and handle difficult situations. But perhaps the most important of all is where you are leading your life.
Where are you going? What do you want your life to look like five years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now? Are you going drift with the tides or are you going to determine where you want to go, strap on a 200 HP motor, and start moving in that direction?
Like many people I know, I am trying to get clear on what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have achieved all my major goals thus far; so now I have to figure out where I want to go from here. As part of my soul-searching process, I have answered ten important questions I think everyone should ask of themselves.
Regardless of your station in life, you will benefit from answering these questions. Perhaps they will confirm that you are on the right track. Or, they may open your mind to opportunities you haven't previously considered. They may reveal the missing link in your quest to find happiness and fulfillment in your life.
Finding clarity and direction for your life
1.  What is important to me today? Start by identifying what's currently important to you. To find the answer, simply look at how you spend your time. This is evidence to you and everyone watching your life as to what appears important to you at this point in time.
2.  What should be important to me? Once you examine the activities that fill your days, you will begin to realize some activities contribute more positives to your life than others. For example, time spent watching TV or surfing the web compared to time invested in relationships, personal growth, or worthwhile projects. It's time to do some soul-searching and make a list of the things that are truly important to you.
3.  What do I want my life to look like? When you look 5, 10, 20, or 30 years into the future, what do you want your life to look like? What do you want to be doing with your time? Where do you want to be living?
4.  What do I want my days to look like? What type of daily routines would you enjoy? From the time you get up to the time you go to bed, what do you want the typical day to look like?
5.  What would I enjoy the most? Let loose and make a list of everything that fills you up inside. What excites you? What energizes you? Where's your passion? Keep writing until you are done.
6.  What are my greatest strengths? If your family and friends were asked to describe your most impressive attributes, what would they say? What do you do better than others? What distinguishes you? What makes you stand out from the crowd?
7.  In what areas do I have extensive knowledge? In what areas have you spent the most time? Where would you say you have more knowledge than most people?
8.  What's the greatest value I offer to the market? Make a list of every skill, talent, and ability you have; then put a dollar value next to each one. Your goal is to identify where your personal services offer the highest value to the market.
9.  How much money do I want to make? If you are looking to make a major career decision, you must decide how much money you want to make. Based on where you find yourself today, how important is money to you and how much do you want to earn?
10.  What would my criteria be in selecting something new to do? Twenty-one years ago I made a list of what I believed would be the perfect business for me. Then I went on a search, quickly ruling out businesses that didn't meet my criteria. Finally I found a business that met all 35 points on my criteria list. Making this list was one of the wisest things I have ever done.
As you process your answers to these questions, ask yourself one more question. What are my options? Make a list of every option available to you that aligns with your lists. After draining your brain of all possible options, review the pros and cons of each option. Consider seeking advice from people you respect. You might just discover an unchartered coastline that leads you to your dream destination.
Ben Stein said, "The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want."
Have you recently gone through a major change in your life? What lessons did you learn that could help our readers? Do you have any questions that should be answered? Please share your insights in the comments section below this post.
To get crystal clear on what you want to do with your life, be willing to examine your current lifestyle, ask yourself soul-searching questions, take time to create lists of your choices and goals, and let your sub-conscious mind help form a plan. Then move forward to a more rewarding life.
Click here to visit the site and/or comment on this post.
About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 30 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd's lessons, subscribe here. All Todd's lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts. (Todd's podcasts are ranked #22 in America's top 100 podcasts and #1 in the personal and development field.)
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Little Things Matter, P. O. Box 19109, Sarasota, FL 34276, USA

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

33 Ways to Reduce and Prevent Stress

I get an email from Little Things Matter every week.  The articles they post are most helpful and can be a benefit to everyone.  If you want to get more, go to and sign up.

33 Ways to Reduce and Prevent Stress
Listen to the Podcast
Businesswoman painStress is evident everywhere in our fast-paced world. It's a mental, emotional, or physical strain caused by anxiety or overwork. We all feel stress and often suffer the results of it in some way or other.
What you are about to read can have a significant impact on the levels of stress you experience. This post is not about how to deal with stress; it's about how to reduce and avoid it.
Most of the stress we experience can be broken down into three categories.
1.  Stress we can't control—such as the loss of a job, loss of a loved one, or encountering major health challenges.
2.  Natural stress—such as what we feel when we set goals, push ourselves outside our comfort zones, and strive to get better.
3.  Stress we can control—such as being late to an appointment, having a breakdown in a relationship, or getting upset sitting in traffic.
When you identify and learn how to manage the things that create stress, you will experience improvements in every area of your life—from your relationships to your performance, from your health to your outlook on life.
Let me encourage you to print these 33 points and highlight the ones that you are determined to work on. The realization that you are in control of your stress is the foundation of stress management.
1.  Don't over commit. Whether in your personal or professional life, learn your limits and set boundaries. Know when to say, "No!" Don't take on more than you can reasonably handle.
2.  Avoid people who stress you out. If someone is a constant source of stress and you can't turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person, or end the relationship entirely.
3.  Avoid heated topics. You know the topics that cause your blood pressure to rise, so learn to avoid them.
4.  Practice relaxation techniques. Techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body's relaxation response—a state of restfulness opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, you will enjoy a reduction in your everyday stress levels, benefit by a boost in your feelings of peace and serenity, and increase your ability to stay calm under pressure.
5.  Change how you view things. Practice viewing stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than getting stressed out about sitting in traffic, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, to listen to your favorite music or self-improvement CD, or to just enjoy some quiet time.
6.  Practice positive thinking. How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. People who maintain a positive attitude and practice positive thinking experience less stress than those who are pessimistic and negative.
7.  Anticipate problems. When issues arise, address them head on before they escalate. The best way to avoid big problems is by addressing them when they are small.
8.  Express your feelings. When something or someone is upsetting you, learn to communicate your concerns in an open and respectful manner. Even if it's just sharing what you are going through with a friend, you will likely feel better.
9.  Practice good time management. Every improvement you make in how you spend your time gives you greater control of your life and plays a small role in reducing your everyday stress levels.
10.  Don't procrastinate. Putting things off until the last minute is a guaranteed way to increase your stress levels. Start doing what you know you should do when you know you should do it. Become a do-it-now person.
11.  Stop striving for perfection. We should push ourselves to improve and to always do our best, BUT we need to know when something is good enough. On a scale of 1-10, start shooting for 8's and 9's.
12.  Look for the upside. When problems and challenges present themselves, look at them as opportunities for personal growth. The next time you are faced with a challenge remember this African proverb: "Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors."
13.  Set aside relaxation time. Block out time each day to rest, relax, and recharge your batteries. Look at your daily schedule and identify one or more periods of time when you can take a break. Do something you enjoy during these blocks of time.
14.  Keep your sense of humor. Smiling and laughing are great ways to reduce stress.
15.  Exercise regularly. It is well documented that physical activity plays a key role in reducing the effects of stress on the body. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. A brisk walk can do wonders to reduce stress.
16.  Consume healthy food and beverages. When we nourish our bodies with healthy foods and beverages our bodies are better prepared to cope with stress.
17.  Get enough sleep. Getting a good night's sleep allows you to rest your mind and body. When you are tired and fatigued, you experience more stress than when you are fresh and full of energy.
18.  Use a "To Do" list. Writing down everything you need to do in a prioritized sequence is a huge stress reducer. When you are doing exactly what you should be doing in the exact sequence in which things need to be completed, you will feel more at peace.
19.  Don't accept stress. Refuse to get stressed out. As an example, if you are feeling stress because of everything you have to do, but yet you are giving 100% of yourself and you are working on things in a prioritized sequence, say, "I'm doing all I can do." This is a conversation I have with myself several times each week as I consider all that I have to do.
20.  Put together a debt-reduction plan. Putting together a plan to decrease your debt will do wonders to reduce financial stress. Much of the financial pressure people live with is a result of not having a budget or plan.
21.  Build valued relationships. If you put an emphasis on building valued relationships, you will not only find greater enjoyment in life, but you will have fewer conflicts. Spending time with positive and encouraging people makes you feel better and reduces stress.
22.  Stop stressing over little things. So much stress comes from getting worked up over petty little things—such as the person driving slowly in front of you, or listening to someone who has an apposing view on an insignificant subject. Use your self-control to ignore the little things that bug you.
23.  Learn to respond, not react. When something upsets you, don't react in haste. Instead pause and consider the best way to respond—a way that you will be proud of later.
24.  Write things down. Stop trying to remember everything; start taking notes or making lists. This frees the mind and, because you don't need to remember things, you will feel a whole lot less stress.
25.  Don't pick fights. You know the types of things that cause conflict. Unless it is something really important to you, learn to let it go.
26.  Plan ahead and arrive early. We have all experienced the stress of running late for an appointment. When you have to be somewhere at a specific time, plan ahead and arrive early.
27.  Stop expecting people to live by your rules. Dealing with unmet expectations is a huge source of stress. Make sure you set proper expectations for yourself. When you set expectations for others, make sure they understand them. Expecting people to fulfill your unspoken expectations is a sure fire way to get a dose of unwanted stress.
28.  Get organized. How do you feel when your home, car, or workplace is a mess, or when you are working on a project and can't find things? Take the time to get organized; then do the little things each day to stay organized.
29.  Present yourself as being calm and in control. When you present yourself in this manner, you will feel less hurried and more confident, both of which will reduce the stress you feel.
30.  Learn to estimate how long activities take. Start tracking how long things take to complete. In most cases, the actual amount of time it takes to do something is more than you initially estimated. By clearly understanding how long an activity "really" takes, you can better control your schedule and commitments.
31.  Don't try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control, including the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control, such as how you should respond to them.
32.  Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that we all make mistakes. Let go of anger, resentment, and negative energy by forgiving those who have hurt you.
33.  Be grateful. Take time each day to reflect on the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This will increase your happiness and help you keep things in perspective.
Let me encourage you to take some time and make a list of the things that cause you to feel stressed. As you look at each point, determine what you can do to reduce the stress it causes you.
As you go about each day, be aware of your stress levels and their sources. If watching the news impacts your stress levels, then stop watching it. If some of your choices are creating stressful situations, then learn from them and avoid them in the future.
Managing stress is all about taking control of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun.
What helps you reduce or avoid stress? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below this post.
Learning how to avoid and reduce stress is one of the most important skills you can master, not only for your own health and happiness but also because of how your stress levels impact those close to you.
Click here to visit the site and/or comment on this post.
About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 30 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd's lessons, subscribe here. All Todd's lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts. (Todd's podcasts are ranked #24 in America's top 100 podcasts and #1 in the personal and development field.)
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Little Things Matter, P. O. Box 19109, Sarasota, FL 34276, USA

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quote for the day

"Don't be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams." -author unknown

Monday, January 3, 2011

How to have Success in 2011

Starting off 2011 the RIGHT way is critical in having a successful year.  

A successful year is made up of 12 successful months. Each successful month is made up of 4 successful weeks.  Each successful week is made up of of 7 successful days.  Each successful day is made up the right actions.  Those actions begin with filling your mind with the right things.
Daily Motivation to help each day start off on the right foot

Books to Read
Audio Books
  • - Download audio books for your computer, ipod, iphone, ipad, android phone or MP3 player. Over 85000 downloadable Audible audiobooks by best-selling authors of books online.
This is not a complete list.  This is a list of some of my favorites. There are many great self improvement and motivational books and websites available. This is a good start in helping us have a very successful 2011.  
It is important to take time each and every day to fill our minds with positive information.   Set aside time each day in your schedule to read.  Turn your car into a classroom and listen to motivational books and speakers.  Work each day on developing a positive attitude.

Have a Happy and Prosperous 2011!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Be careful what you plant now...

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his
children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. "The young executives were Shocked, but the boss continued. "I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with
what you have grown from the seed I have given you.  I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the
story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot
to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful -- in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young

Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!

His name is Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed.

"How could he be the new CEO?" the others said.

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this
room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!"

* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

* If you plant hard work, you will reap success

* If you
plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.

Fable of the Porcupine

It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together. This way, they covered and protected themselves; but, the quills of each one wounded their closest companions even though they gave off heat to each other.

After awhile, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen.
So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of
their companions or disappear from the Earth.

Wisely, they decided to go back to being together.
This way they learned to live with the little wounds that were caused by the close relationship with their companion, but the most important part of it, was the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.


The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but the best is

when each individual learns to live with
the imperfections of others and can admire
the other person's good qualities.

The Moral of the story!


Setting and Achieving Your Goals

As we start 2011, it is time to take a look at how to set and achieve our goals.

Starting on page thirty six of “Think and Grow Rich”, Napoleon Hill goes over the Six Steps of Obtaining your Goals.

Step 1. Set a goal. Know Exactly what you want. Be specific.

Step 2. Determine exactly what you will give in return for what you want to receive.

Step 3. Set a deadline for your accomplishment.

Step 4. Create a definite plan and put it into action immediately, whether you’re ready or not.

Step 5. Write out a clear concise statement with the 4 steps above, what your goal is, what you will do in return to achieve it, the date you intend to get it, and describe the plan through which you will acquire it.

Step 6. Read your statement twice daily, in the morning and at night, and here’s the key (excerpt from the book) “AS YOU READ – SEE AND FEEL AND BELIEVE YOURSELF ALREADY IN POSSESSION OF YOUR GOAL”.

Take the time now to decide what you really want and see and feel as you’ve already got it, and KNOW that it’s on it’s way.