Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Posted: 08 Jun 2010 07:34 AM PDT
Have you ever – perhaps in January – come up with some grand plan for self-improvement? Perhaps you promised yourself that you'd jog daily. Maybe you resolved to cook every night instead of eating out. You might even have written down goals, drawn up timetables and charts, and pumped up your willpower as much as possible.
And yet, somewhere along the way, you stopped. Going to the gym five times a week just wasn't working. You ended up impulse shopping. You never managed to get up on time. Whatever it was, you felt like you'd failed.
The problem is, we're prone to all-or-nothing thinking. We set ourselves high standards, and give up completely when we can't meet them.
There's another way. Rather than aiming for some maximum level of perfection, think small instead. Decide on a minimum standard which you'll have no excuses for not achieving.
I first came across this idea from Shauna Reid, also known as Diet Girl. Lamenting her own all-or-nothing thinking, she wrote:
2009 Minimum Standards Agreement!
I know 20 minutes doesn't sound like much to you hardcore dames out there, but last year I kept going from one extreme to another. I'd do a 16 miler for my Moonwalk training then do nowt for a week. Even if it's just twenty minutes of Pilates or a quick jaunt around the village, I need to set a minimum.
- Write down what I eat
- Exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes
- 10.30 PM Internet curfew! [...]
(Shauna Reid, No Year's Resolutions, The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl)
Why a Minimum Standard Agreement Works
You're probably still tempted to come up with grand, perfectionist goals. You're thinking "I won't get the same results if I just shoot for the minimum". But is that really true?
How often have you set grand goals only to give up days later?
How often have you undone your hard work – by having an eating or spending binge after a period of too-harsh restriction?
When you set a Minimum Standard, you feel empowered, because you can easily achieve what you've promised yourself. Even on a really busy day, you can find time to write three sentences in your journal. Isn't it better to do those three sentences daily, rather than aim for three pages and give up after a week?
Plus, when things are going well, your Minimum Standards Agreement doesn't limit you at all. Let's say you've promised yourself that you'll walk for just 15 minutes each day. On a nice day, when you've got some extra time, you might decide to walk for 30 minutes – or even an hour. And the best part is, this will be a bonus achievement – above and beyond the minimum which you said you'd do.
You'll feel great about hitting your targets, which means you'll want to keep going. After all, if you manage to do your 15 minute walk for five weeks in a row, you won't want to skip a day just because it's raining.
Examples of Minimum Standards Agreements
So what does a minimum standards agreement look like? And which areas of your life should you focus on?
You'll want to think about whether to make your targets:
- Daily, weekly or monthly
- Time-based or outcome-based
- Focused on one key area, or split across several
- Have one day each week when I don't spend anything (makes you more aware of your spending habits, should help you save money)
- Take a packed lunch to work at least two days a week (good for money-saving and eating a healthier diet)
- Spend at least 15 minutes exercising each day (walking, cycling, etc)
Remember, you can always do more. These are minimums that you're supposed to be able to do without fail – even on bad days!
Health and Fitness ideas
- Walk for 15 minutes a day
- Eat one piece of fruit every day
- Switch from whole milk to half-and-half
- Have an hour-long walk on either Saturday or Sunday
- Spend five minutes meditating or journaling every morning
- Empty the spare change from your pockets or wallet into a jar every evening
- Have a "no spend" day once a week (or once a month)
- Ban yourself from online shopping in the evenings (or at particular points when you're prone to impulse buy)
- Start saving $5/week towards Christmas right now
- Write down everything you spend on food/drinks out
- Spend five minutes each day working on that dreaded report or presentation
- Tidy your desk once a week (or once a month)
- Take two minutes to plan your morning when you first get in to work
- If you have a side business or personal project, spend fifteen minutes working on this each evening
- Clear three emails from your backlog every day
- Read one chapter of a relevant book each week (or a few pages each day)
|Written on 6/08/2010 by Ali Hale. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.||Photo Credit: Evil Erin|
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Manvotional: Aesop’s Fables
Aesop’s fables might seem like “kid’s stuff,” and certainly their short nature and anthropomorphic characters make them an easy read for the younger set. But reading through a book of them recently I was delighted by the quick kick in the pants they provide; their short, pithy messages can assuredly be appreciated by men as well as lads. While a few of Aesop’s fables have become famous the world over, there are literally hundreds more out there. Here are just a few of my new favorites.
The Farmer and the Stork
A Farmer placed nets on his newly sown plough lands, and caught a quantity of Cranes, which came to pick up his seed. With them he trapped a Stork also. The Stork having his leg fractured by the net, earnestly besought the Farmer to spare his life. “Pray, save me, Master,” he said, “and let me go free this once. My broken limb should excite your pity. Besides, I am no Crane, I am a Stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and slave for my father and mother. Look too, at my feathers, they are not the least like to those of a Crane.” The Farmer laughed aloud, and said, “It may be all as you say; I only know this, I have taken you with these robbers, the Cranes, and you must die in their company.”
Birds of a feather flock together.
A Fox having fallen into a deep well, was detained a prisoner there, as he could find no means of escape. A Goat, overcome with thirst, came to the same well, and, seeing the Fox, inquired if the water was good. The Fox, concealing his sad plight under a merry guise, indulged in a lavish praise of the water, saying it was beyond measure excellent, and encouraged him to descend. The Goat, mindful only of his thirst, thoughtlessly jumped down, when just as he quenched his thirst, the Fox informed him of the difficulty they were both in, and suggested a scheme for their common escape. “If,” said he, “you will place your fore-feet upon the wall, and bend your head, I will run up your back and escape, and will help you out afterwards.” On the Goat readily assenting to this second proposal, the Fox leapt upon his back, and steadying himself with the Goat’s horns, reached in safety the mouth of the well, when he immediately made off as fast as he could. The Goat upbraided him with the breach of his bargain, when he turned round and cried out: “You foolish old fellow! If you had as many brains in your head as you have hairs in your beard, you would never have gone down before you had inspected the way up, nor have exposed yourself to dangers from which you had no means of escape.”
Look before you leap.
The Two Travelers
Two men were traveling together, when a bear suddenly met them on their path. One of them climbed up quickly into a tree, and concealed himself in the branches. The other, seeing that he must be attacked, fell flat on the ground, and when the Bear came up and felt him with his snout, and smelt him all over, he held his breath, and feigned the appearance of death as much as he could. The Bear soon left him, for it is said he will not touch a dead body. When he was quite gone, the other traveler descended from the tree, and accosting his friend, jocularly inquired “what it was the Bear had whispered in his ear?” he replied, “He gave me this advice: Never travel with a friend who deserts you at the approach of danger.”
Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.
The Sick Lion
A Lion being unable from old age and infirmities to provide himself with food by force, resolved to do so by artifice. He betook himself to his den, and lying down there, pretended to be sick, taking care that his sickness should be publicly known. The beasts expressed their sorrow, and came one by one to his den to visit him, when the Lion devoured them. After many of the beasts had thus disappeared, the Fox discovered the trick, and presenting himself to the Lion, stood on the outside of the cave, at a respectful distance, and asked of him how he did; to whom he replied, “I am very middling, but why do you stand without? Pray enter within to talk with me.” The Fox replied, “No, thank you, I notice that there are many prints of feet entering your cave, but I see no trace of any returning.”
He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of others.
The Boasting Traveler
A Man who had traveled in foreign lands, boasted very much, on returning to his own country, of the many wonderful and heroic things he had done in the different places he had visited. Among other things, he said that when he was at Rhodes he had leapt to such a distance that no man of his day could leap anywhere near him—and as to that there were in Rhodes many persons who saw him do it, and whom he could call as witnesses. One of the bystanders interrupting him, said: “Now, my good man, if this be all true there is no need of witnesses. Suppose this to be Rhodes; and now for your leap.”
The Huntsman and the Fisherman
A Huntsman, returning with his dogs from the field, fell in by chance with a Fisherman, bringing home a basket well ladened with fish. The Huntsman wished to have the fish; and their owner experienced an equal longing for the contents of the gamebag. They quickly agreed to exchange the produce of their day’s sport. Each was so well pleased with his bargain, that they made for some time the same exchange day after day. A neighbor said to them, ” If you go on in this way, you will soon destroy, by frequent use, the pleasure of your exchange, and each will again wish to retain the fruits of his own sport.”
A Man came into a forest, and made a petition to the Trees to provide him a handle for his axe. The Trees consented to his request, and gave him a young ash-tree. No sooner had the man fitted from it a new handle to his axe, than he began to use it, and quickly felled with his strokes the noblest giants of the forest. An old oak, lamenting when too late the destruction of his companions, said to a neighboring cedar, “The first step has lost us all. If we had not given up the rights of the ash, we might yet have retained our own privileges, and have stood for ages.”
Beware of small concessions.
The Gnat and the Bull
A Gnat settled on the horn of a Bull, and sat there a long time. Just as he was about to fly off, he made a buzzing noise, and inquired of the Bull if he would like him to go. The Bull replied, “I did not know you had come, and I shall not miss you when you go away.”
Some men are of more consequence in their own eyes than in the eyes of their neighbors.
A Boy bathing in a river was in danger of being drowned. He called out to a traveler, passing by, for help. The traveler, instead of holding out a helping hand, stood up unconcernedly, and scolded the boy for his imprudence. “Oh, sir!” cried the youth, “pray help me now, and scold me afterwards.”
Counsel, without help, is useless.
The Flea and the Man
A Man, very much annoyed with a Flea, caught him at last, and said, “Who are you who dare to feed on my limbs, and to cost me so much trouble in catching you?” The Flea replied, “O my dear sir, pray spare my life, and destroy me not, for I cannot possibly do you much harm.” The Man, laughing, replied, “Now you shall certainly die by mine own hands, for no evil, whether it be small or large, ought to be tolerated.”
The Father and His Sons
A Father had a family of sons who were perpetually quarreling among themselves. When he failed to heal their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of disunion; and for this purpose he one day told them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he placed the bundle into the hands of each of them in succession, and ordered them to break it in pieces. They each tried with all their strength, and were not able to do it. After this the Father ordered the bundle to be untied, and gave a single stick to each of his Sons; at the same time bidding him try to break it, which each did with all imaginable ease. He then addressed them in these words: “My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this bundle, uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks.”
Unity is strength.
- Manvotional: What Is a Boy?
- Manvotional: The Right Kind of People
- Manvotional: A Manly Boy
- How To Survive a Bear Attack
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Last week I was looking to post a video online to share with a few people.
The unedited video is 4o minutes long.
YouTube limits videos to around 15 minutes.
After searching for a way to post a longer video, I came across another free video service that I've watched video's on, but never uploaded.
Turns out, their time limits are much longer and if I want to post a 40 minute video, I can.
You can too if you sign up for a free account at Vimeo.
Just click here to start.
Monday, October 25, 2010
I refuse to go into debt to buy presents.
First of all, despite the commercialization of the holiday, it is still about a thankful remembrance of the birth of Jesus, son of Mary, (Step-son? of Joesph); and that's more important than overspending on a bunch of Christmas crap.
Yes, we will exchange gifts, but within our means. I hope you do the same. Here's some help from the DLM Blog:
Posted: 16 Oct 2010 07:20 AM PDT
Do you hate thinking about money? Even those that aren't living in financial distress can have an uncomfortable relationship with money. It's common to feel like it's not nice to think about money or that everyone has a good handle on it except for you.
The truth is money is a tool and we all have to decide how we will use it. You will be able to make better decisions about money if you can get to a place where you can think about in a matter of fact way instead of avoiding the subject or making all of your decisions based on feelings or guilt or shame.
Try these 10 steps to make peace with your relationship with money.
- Tackle your finances head on.
It's not only practical and smart to know your net worth and liabilities but the more you ignore it, the scarier and more intimidating it will be. Make a list of all your assets and liabilities and take a careful look at where you stand.
- Keep debt in perspective.
All things considered, it's better to be out of debt than in debt but there are far worse things in the world than owing money. It is a hole that you can dig yourself out of. And, if it turns out that something like bankruptcy is the only answer, it's still not the end of the world. You can overcome financial problems.
- Make a plan for your money.
Most people feel more secure when they have an outline of what is going to happen and financial guidelines to tell them what to do. Writing out a plan that lists your financial goals and the steps you will take to get there is an excellent way to motivate yourself and keep your focus strong.
- Understand that there is nothing shallow or petty about being concerned about money.
Giving a healthy amount of your attention to your finances and making your financial health a priority is not a sign that you are less spiritual or evolved. Remember that it's important to take care of yourself if you want to help others.
- Take a look at your shopping habits.
Do you shop because you are bored or lonely? Do you buy things to get a high? While the occasional impulse buy or splurge or day out window shopping is not a problem, shopping should not be the cure for everything that ails you. Look for more positive ways to deal with negative emotions such as exercise, meditation or talking to friends.
- Do what you can to ensure that you're being paid what you are worth.
This can be a tricky subject as it often seems like compensation has very little to do with how much value a job gives to society, but, within every field there are some that are paid more or less. If you know that you are an asset to your employer or clients there is nothing wrong with asking for a raise, extra benefits or other consideration to reflect your value.
- Stop waiting for a miracle or hero to save you financially.
It's fun to daydream about winning the lottery or marrying a wealthy prince or princess and magically seeing our financial problems disappear. Sure, it could happen but you'll save yourself a lot of stress in the meantime by being proactive about fixing your finances.
- Your self worth does not have to be dependent on your net worth.
I think we all know this intellectually but it's something most of us have to remind ourselves daily. So many of us come from cultures where those that are wealthy are seen as being more worthy of esteem and those that are poor are looked at as being “less than”. Even comfortable middle class people can fall into the trap of thinking that because they can't afford every luxury they must have done something wrong. Remind yourself of this whenever you find yourself feeling anxious or insecure around those who have significantly more or less wealth than you do.
- Stop being so judgmental.
Sure, there are plenty of dumb decisions made about money every day but there isn't any value in pointing fingers or getting up on a high horse about other people's poor decisions. You absolutely can and should learn from the mistakes and experiences of others but using it as an opportunity to feel superior is only going to increase your anxious feelings about money. If you can be kind and understanding towards others when they make mistakes, you'll be better able to look at your own mistakes in a productive way.
- Do some digging and find out what you fear about money/material possessions and confront it head on.
It can be helpful to talk through these feelings with a trusted friend or family member. Things nearly always seem less intimidating when you get the courage to talk about them. Perhaps you fear thinking about your retirement because you feel stupid that you don't know what all the terms mean. Or perhaps you overspend on restaurants and entertainment because you are afraid your friends will abandon you if you can't keep up. Whatever your fear there is almost certainly a solution if you face it and get some help to figure out how to make it better.
|Written on 10/16/2010 by Tracy O'Connor. Tracy is a staff writer for MoneyNing , a personal finance blog dedicated to helping readers get the most out of their money.||Photo Credit: enough_42|
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Sunday, October 24, 2010
An interesting conversation was brewing at the Firefly Coffee Shop this morning between me and a couple of friends.
Some of the key take-aways:
- My to-do list that I create on Fridays for the upcoming week, is more like a wish list. Of the 10 items on that initial list, only 3 or 4 will get done, but another 15 items that became important, will be done.
- Men and Women handle stress differently, and depending on the individuals personality, there are wide variations within each gender.
- Motivation varies greatly, but people place an invisible ceiling on their own potential which, unless they are aware of, they will not break through. This is also called a comfort zone.
Here's how it would work:
- Jot down all the sources of stress in your life at the moment.
- Prioritize them by asking yourself, "If I could reduce or eliminate this source of stress, my life would be better."
- Then start developing the action steps for each of these stresses.
- Do it. Some will involve starting something new. Some will involve stopping something old. Some will involve cleaning crap out of your life, most will involve a dedication to some form of improvement. Tears, agony, self-reflection, victories, and set backs will be involved.
- The results will be life changing because you will realize more power than you thought you had. The glass ceilings will be broken.
By the way, I know of a couple of resources who can help you go through this process if you are in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area. One is a talented Life Coach who can help you on the personal issues. The other is a business adviser who can walk you through those areas.
Contact me at Scott at ScLoHo.net for more information.