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CHOICE

choices in life

This week’s article is a general discussion on choice and some things I’ve become more aware of as I’m learning. 

For those who don’t know the story about how Time to Play (www.TimetoPlay.com) started, about 4 years ago I realized I had an amazing life, but that I wasn’t “enjoying” life – I was just going through the motions of getting up, going to work, taking care of what I could fit into a 24 hour day and repeating the same thing the next day.  Then, as now, I have had a WONDERFUL family, kids, husband (together 31 years) and a great job.  I can’t say I have had a bad living experience in any way, but just felt like I wasn’t noticing the “right stuff” as I went along, that the days just flew by, and that I felt like I was missing something. 

Time to Play was founded when I decided to start re-learning how to enjoy my life.  I came up with the Time to Play Philosophy – you have to be happy, healthy, have money and a work life balance to have quality of life.  I’m not going to go into the specifics of why I chose each area in this article; perhaps I’ll do that for next week’s article.  But, the underlying thought here is that I believe we need to learn what we need to know to enjoy life and the goal of Time to Play.  To provide different resources for different people, as I know that everyone’s circumstance is different, and that different people have different needs.  But, each of us REALIZING something needs to be learned or that something needs to change is the most important thought here.  We can only ignore things for so long.  They will always resurface.

The following are the two most important things I have learned, so far, that have made a HUGE difference in how I feel and my general happiness.

The first was learning that I was never in the “NOW”, meaning I was always looking towards tomorrow, not really taking notice what was happening in front of my face.  I realized I did not always take notice and enjoy my present experience; I was always thinking of my “to do” list, what was next, and where I had to be.  I’m sure many of you can relate, and I believe we’re really conditioned for future-thinking in today’s society.  For goodness sakes, there are now Christmas trees for sale in stores in what – September?  It’s no wonder why we’re always thinking about the next thing.

The other thing I have learned, and that’s what today’s article is about, is that I have a CHOICE of how I am able to feel at any given moment.  This was a HUGE revelation and something everyone is capable of realizing.  The most important thing I learned is that it is my choice to remain in a situation.  Whatever I was experiencing at that time could enable me to feel GOOD or BAD.  I have learned that we do NOT have to stay in a situation, whatever it is, if it makes us feel bad. 

I need to digress a moment.  I recently read a book by Florence Schovel Shinn called The Game of Life and How to Play It.  This book was written in the 1920s.  In our book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life (www.IfIKnewThenBook.com) I discussed how history repeats itself if we let it.  Since starting Time to Play I’ve become educated through the experiences and teachings of authors including Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peal, Dale Carnegie, etc., who wrote books in the 1950s.  Through these and my recent read by Ms. Shinn, I continue to marvel at the wisdom of learning from people who have been here before us.  That’s pretty much the basis of our book, as well — “Don’t do what we did – pick yourself up and dust yourself off – we made it, you can too — move forward… “, important lessons we can glean from others every day.  I believe that everyone has something to offer that can help another.

O.K., back to our discussion – Ms. Shinn’s book, another I just finished reading, “Ask and It is Given”, by Esther and Jerry Hicks, and awareness and teachings by our own Rebecca L. Norrington, Happiness professional on www.TimetoPlay.com, it is emphasized that we are in control of our situations; that we have the option to feel good or bad.  There’s really no other choice.  Think about it.  If you are depressed you feel bad.  If you are lonely you feel bad.  If you are sick you feel bad.  If you are frustrated you feel bad.  If you are calm you feel good.  If you are happy you feel good.  If you feel love, you feel good.  What would you prefer? 

OK, so I hear you asking, “How is this MY choice?  I can’t control the circumstances of every day that I am involved in”.  I believe, at this point in my learning, that we may not think we have control over our day and our situations, but I truly believe we do…  In line with this, I also now believe we have control over our REACTIONS to ANY occurrence we become faced with.

Stay with me here, and you’ll see why I’m introducing this exercise.  We always say “life is short”, but I, for one, had a hard time trying to grasp that concept.  Time is, kind of, not tangible.  Each day that passes is a day, but what exactly is a day?  I had come up with an idea a few weeks ago that helped me make this tangible.  Take a dollar out of your pocket.  DO IT – I’m watching you (only kidding).  Now, look at the dollar.  Think about paying for this very second of your life with that dollar.  Now let’s go a little broader.  Think of this day which contains 24 hours.  There are 86,400 seconds in 24 hours.  Now, think of paying $86,400 for living this very day.  Did you enjoy spending your “money”?  I realize that life is more precious than that one dollar; even $86,400.  You can’t get back your seconds.  There are no refunds.  I will go a little further and introduce the idea that every day we wake into a situation that is negative to how we want to feel (if we choose that we want to feel good), we are wasting “money”.  Perhaps that will make the concept that “life is short” more tangible for you… it has for me.

Take a quick inventory of your life… your living situation, the things you complain about, your weight, your job… everything.  What makes you feel good?  What makes you feel frustrated or bad?  What do you complain about?  What are your “problems”?

We can complain, blame, or accept responsibility to change.  Unless you are 100% happy with the way things are, the awareness that we have a choice is the key and the first step towards daily and constant happiness.  Studying quality improvement for many years in my healthcare career, I believe there is always room for improvement in ANY situation.

As of this day, I am far from perfect.  My goal is to realize when I start to feel contrary to how I want to feel and to be able to alter my reaction or the situation I am in.  Funny as it is, this awareness has become transient.  My family now helps me “catch” myself when my reaction is not in line with my goals.  My determination to be happy has provided them with more awareness about their own day, as well.

All I want, and strive for, is to have a nice day.  We all deserve the same.  We all deserve the opportunity to enjoy life.

Love, Doreen

PS:  This is the topic of discuss on our Empower Half Hour Podcast, live on Wednesday, July 16 9:30 am EST or recorded and archived – link / listen here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timetoplay/2014/07/16/choice-empower-half-hour-sponsored-by-timetoplaycom 

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC:  Is the author of If I Knew then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life (www.ifiknewthenbook.com). Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Certified Professional Coach, a Certified Life Coach, and a New York State Department of Health Lifestyle Coach.

Doreen is the founder of Time to Play, a place to find resources for a better life.  She came up with the Time to Play Philosophy that you have to be happy, healthy, have money and a work / life balance to have quality of life, and believes everyone has the right and the ability to enjoy life.

Contact her by calling 631-331-2675 or email doreen@timetoplay.com.

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What a 1st Grader Knows that Adults Forget

Since the beginining of this year, I’ve been doing some volunteer work as a course facilitator with Junior Achievement (a great organization promoting personal finance education and entrepreneurship among elementary through high school students). I’ve enjoyed a great variety of age groups, having worked with 5th graders back in February, 1st graders in April, and then high school juniors and seniors in May. I’ve also visited over 30 elementary school classrooms (1st, 2nd and 3rd grades) to read the Berenstain Bears Trouble with Money book to almost 800 children,. This short and entertaining story illustrates the role of earning, spending and saving money in our lives.

Teach Children Personal FinanceAs I usually am, I’ve been so impressed by the students in all these classes. They have a genuine interest at each age in learning about personal finance, which Junior Achievement defines as “the process of managing our goals and needs…” I love that definition. One thing that has stood out to me in all of these classes is that all of the students could identity their physical survival needs and actually differentiate them from their wants. This is something many adults have either forgotten or which they have chosen to ignore.

Here’s what the 1st Graders in my class already knew but what many of the adults in my classes don’t want to consider:

  1. While shelter is a need, the largest or newest or nicest looking or most-meticulously-pedicured-lawned home on the block is a want.
  2. Food is a need, but stopping for fast food or to pick up a pizza on the way home from work is a want… even if it’s a 2-for-1 deal or a healthy (less unhealthy?) choice.
  3. Clothing is a need, but fashion is a want.
  4. An appendectomy may be a need, but teeth whitening is a want.

What about the following?

  • Owning an Xbox One?
  • Having the latest iPhone? By the way, sleeping out on the sidewalk for three days before the latest release does not turn it from a want to a need.
  • Air Conditioning? Answer this question: how many generations before us survived without A/C? Some among us could answer, “All of them.”
  • WiFi?
  • Grabbing something at the gourmet coffee shop on the way to work?

None of these is a need, yet we act as if they are. We even turn some of our wants into obligations that can cause problems with our ability to pay for our wants. Remember the stories from the Great Recession of the large number of people who were making sure to pay their credit card bills (certainly racked up on wants) while they let their homes (needs) go into foreclosure?

What happens between elementary school and being adulthood? Yes, we all learn the importance of transportation and communication in our lives, but too many of us forget that much of the American consumer experience (ads, marketing campaigns, packaging, and even entertainment) exists solely to make us feel that we NEED things that are actually still just wants. Can we survive without a vehicle? More than half the households in Manhattan do. At the other extreme, only 6% of Boiseans (Idaho) do.

I make the point in my classes that vehicles are not needs but very high priority wants that contribute not to our survival but to our lifestyle. Without a vehicle, we would find a way to survive, but our way of living would likely change dramatically.

The reason I seemingly harp on this point stems from the part of human nature that decides that if something is a need, we can stop looking for alternatives. If my car is a need, then I don’t consider carpooling, public transportation, ride sharing, bicycling, walking, telecommuting, cutting back, etc.

We need to resist the urge to justify overspending on wants if we’re having trouble taking care of our needs. A newer car, a higher rated minivan, a more efficient vehicle, etc. These are all wants that need to be prioritized BELOW eating, paying a reasonable rent/mortgage, and having sufficient clothing to protect us from the elements.

I am often heard to say in my classes that we need to do a better job of educating the next generation (our children) in all things financial. This, however, may be a case where they might do a better job educating us!

Have a great week!

TTodd Christensenodd Christensen
Everyday Money for Everyday People
www.facebook.com/oureverydaymoney
http://pinterest.com/everydaymoney
twitter.com/everydaymoney4u

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Starting or Buying a Business

Planning for your own business

Before you start your own business or buy an existing business, you should do some initial planning. You may have already decided what type of business you want–your own restaurant, retail outlet, service, or manufacturing plant. You need to choose a suitable location–can you work from home, or do you need a separate facility? You should assess your financial requirements, schedule daily activities, and plan for contingencies, which may be included in your business plan. Planning your business usually requires the help of any number of professionals–an attorney or accountant, for example. The success or failure of your business may depend on your initial planning, but how do you plan and what do you plan for?

Factors to consider when starting your own business

Legal structure

You will have to decide upon the legal structure of your business. For example, will you conduct business as a sole proprietor, or will you instead create an entity separate from yourself, like a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company? Each type of entity has its own characteristics, and the structure you choose will depend on which ones you need. Certain forms of business entity offer limited liability protection, allowing you to protect your personal assets from lawsuits involving the business.

Taxation

Uncle Sam takes a special interest in your business! How you and your business will be taxed is an especially important factor to consider. For example, if you choose a C corporation as your legal structure, you may be subject to a double tax–one tax when the corporation makes a profit and another when those profits are distributed to the owners (shareholders). Alternatively, if you choose a partnership, only the owners (partners) are taxed. For this and many other reasons, tax considerations must be weighed carefully.

Accounting and record keeping

Contrary to what many may believe, accounting serves an important purpose. Accounting statements are used to help you and others gauge how the business is doing. To keep your accounting information up-to-date, as well as to prepare for an unexpected visit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you must be sure to keep thorough records.

In addition to record keeping, you’ll need to choose a method of accounting, such as cash-basis or accrual method. Moreover, you must decide when your business’s financial or fiscal year begins and ends. Usually businesses use the calendar year (January 1 to December 31) as their fiscal year, though your accountant or the IRS may suggest otherwise.

Insurance

You will need to purchase different types of insurance. Your insurance needs may include property and casualty insurance, life insurance, and liability insurance. If you have employees, you need to think about whether to provide medical insurance and benefits; worker’s compensation insurance is typically required in most states.

Staffing

Are you going to do all the work in your business yourself? If not, whom will you hire? What skills must your employees possess? What tasks will they be responsible for? Keep in mind that the more employees you hire, the more your company will be subject to laws at the state and federal level. Some federal laws that address discrimination in the workplace are based on the number of employees in the business. Certain employee benefits may be mandatory, depending on the size of your company. You may be subject to certain tax rules when employing family members.

Marketing and advertising

Every business markets and advertises. Whether by word-of-mouth for a sole proprietor or through a global campaign in the case of a giant corporation, marketing and advertising are invaluable ingredients for success. In order to market yourself effectively, you’ll need to think strategically. It helps to have a written marketing plan. Be prepared to answer questions like: Who are your competitors and what are your company’s advantages over them? How will you price your product or service? Who is your target market and what is the best way to reach them? What is the key message you want to convey (i.e., your “value proposition”)? It might help to conduct market research before putting together a marketing strategy. This research will help you gauge market perceptions and may help you identify new opportunities for product, pricing, and promotion.

Financing

Insufficient financing is probably the most common obstacle to starting a business. In addition to calculating how much money (capital) you’ll need to start and run your business, you have to figure out where to get the funds. Will you borrow from a bank or family member (debt), or will you take money from investors in exchange for a share in the ownership of the business (equity)? If you intend to seek equity financing, you will be subject to securities regulations. Moreover, you have to decide on how to structure the financing–will you have more debt than equity, for example?

Patents, trademarks, and copyrights

How will you protect your intangible assets–your company’s name, for example (trademark)? Perhaps you have an invention you wish to protect (patent). Or maybe you’ve written a book and wish to protect your written words (copyright). Whatever your concern, you’ll need to think about protecting your creation. An experienced attorney can help you with these issues.

Licenses, permits, and registration

You may need to obtain licenses or permits, or even register with a governmental agency. For example, if you choose to create a corporation, you must register with the secretary of state. If instead you are a sole proprietor, you might be required to obtain business permits from, and/or register your business’s name with, the municipality. To find out more, contact the office of the secretary of state or the chamber of commerce in your state or municipality.

Factors to consider when buying an existing business

In addition to all of the factors to consider when starting your own business, there are other considerations when buying an existing business –is it a stock purchase or are you buying company assets? How is the business being valued? In addition to finding a business and arranging for the purchase and financing, you may also be reconsidering the form of business entity. Just because you bought the assets of a sole proprietorship doesn’t mean you can’t change the entity to some form of corporation.

Factors to consider when buying a franchise

If you are considering buying a franchise, there are important additional considerations. In exchange for assistance from the business granting you the franchise, you are obligated to pay certain fees and accept a certain level of control from the franchisor.

Brian J. White, CFP®, CRPC®
Financial Advisor
Mandell, White & Associates
A financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

An Ameriprise Platinum Financial Services® practice
……………………………
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.
200 Broadhollow Road
Suite 302
Melville, NY 11747

O: 631.760.2265 | F: 631.424.2942

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Keeping a Cool Head Can Earn You Money

You’ve heard it before: Don’t let emotions get in the way of business.  Well the adage holds true for investing, as well – probably even more so.  It seems easy enough to do, but when you see the value of your savings falling like a botched Martha Stewart soufflé, your first instinct may be to sell, sell sell!  But acting out of emotion can often be the worst thing you could do when it comes to investing.  Here are some tips to prevent sabotaging your financial well-being.

  1. Make sure you have a specific financial goal (or goals) with a specific time frame in mind. Sounds pretty basic, right?  It may be, but the trick is to really give this some serious thought.  Very rarely are you saving for just one thing at a time.  Most of us are saving for retirement, future college costs, and near-term goals like buying a new car or house, a home remodeling project, or planning a big vacation.  The way you invest for a short-term goal is very different from the strategies you would use to meet a goal that may be 30 years away, like retirement.  Long-term goals require growth provided from stocks (equities), because you will need the money to outpace inflation.  If you put your retirement savings into CDs, after thirty years, your investment would be worth less than what you put in because inflation would have reduced its purchasing power.  Short-term goals require stability, because you plan on using the money soon.  If the stock market has a set-back, you can loose a substantial amount of your investment in an eye-blink.  Therefore, CDs, money market, or even short-term bonds would be a good choice for a shorter investment time frame. When I hear people say they want to make as much money as fast as they can – they need to know the reality is that the inverse holds true for that investment, as well.  If an investment can move up in value rapidly, it is volatile and it could just as easily (and swiftly) move in the opposite direction.
  2. Diversify your investments.  Yes, stocks are for growth and bonds, money markets and CDs are for income, but having a mix of investments can really protect your investments from times when the stock market may be volatile, or times when rates on CDs or money markets are anemic. Alternative investments, as a group might be risky, but when added to a portfolio (and combined in very specific percentages) can actually reduce a portfolio’s overall volatility.
  3. Start as early as you can, and invest regularly.  The earlier you begin investing for your long-term goals, the better, because time is on your side.  As your investment grows, you can take advantage of compounding, which is when you take whatever income or gains from an investment and buy more shares.  Investing regularly is another good strategy, because it helps remove emotions from investing.  By treating investing like a bill to pay every month, you stop thinking about how else you could spend the money.  Over the years, the money adds up and one day you look at your balance, and you can’t believe how painless it was to actually save.  Most mutual fund companies will even link payment to your bank so every month your bank account will automatically be debited and you won’t ever need to remember to write out and mail a check.  There is also another big advantage to making regular fixed investments every month:  it is called dollar-cost averaging.  Because there may be some months when the price of a fund is lower than other times, you will buy more shares, and during the months when the price is higher you will buy fewer shares.  The price, in effect, gets averaged out over time.  It helps protect you from sinking all of your money into an investment on a day that may happen to be a high.  Yes, this also means that you will not be buying on the absolute lowest day, either.  But, since the market is impossible to time, this is the most logical (unemotional) way to invest, not to mention it puts an element of discipline into your commitment to invest.
  4. The markets can be fickle, but don’t you be.  A well constructed plan needs to be followed out.  If you shift your plan as the market moves, you will forever chase performance and be a reactive investor.  Holding firm to your plan isn’t always easy, but deviating from it can prove fatal.

 Remember, like most things, the planning is the hardest part.  Once you’ve determined what your goals are, and how much time you have to reach these goals then you can begin selecting the right investments.  Then, you can let your money work for you.

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Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

As of April 2014, the average tax refund for is $2,831, according to the IRS.  While it might be tempting to use this windfall for something fun, like a vacation to someplace warm and exotic, there are better ways to spend your refund that can help improve your finances for years to come.  Yes, you can call me a kill-joy, but delaying gratification can have its rewards in bigger and better ways, like being able to buy your dream home sooner than expected, or being able to take that once in a lifetime vacation that you never thought you would be able to afford, or retiring early.  Laying a solid foundation first will enable you to then focus on the perks in life.  So, before you call your travel agent and book a trip to Cancun consider these three less exciting, but more rewarding ways to spend your tax refund (if you’re not getting a tax refund, look to address these items as you get some spare cash):

  • Get Rid of Credit Card Debt.   Even if your bill is bigger than your refund, it pays to get rid of as much debt as quickly as possible.  If your card charges 18% interest and you pay off all or some of that debt, it is the same as if you earned 18% on your money.  Remember to see which cards carry the highest rates.  Pay those off first and stop using all cards.  If you absolutely must charge, make sure you use a card carrying the lowest rates. 
  • Add to Your Emergency Fund.  It is recommended that you have six months’ worth of      income stashed away in a liquid account (bank account, money market, etc.) in case of illness, or unemployment.  In the event of an emergency, how long could you go on paying your bills?  If your account seems thin, beef it up.
  • Fund Your Investment Accounts.  As part of your monthly budget, it is recommended that      10% of your take home pay goes towards savings.  In addition to adding to your emergency fund and other general savings, this 10% can be satisfied in a number of ways: 
  1. Fund retirement through an employer-sponsored plan.  This has enormous benefits, because the investment often times can be made with pre-tax dollars (lowering your income taxes) and the investment can grow without the effect of taxes, provided you withdraw the money in retirement.  Also, many employers help you save toward retirement by matching a percentage of your contributions.  That is called free money – and it’s hard to find.
  2. Fund an IRA or a Roth IRA (contributions can be made for non-working spouses).  Again, tax-deferred growth is a key  benefit here.  Check with your tax advisor if you qualify for a Roth IRA, as it has unique benefits such as tax-free withdrawals, and the ability to withdraw for reasons other than retirement, such a first-time home purchase, or to meet college costs.  Contribution limits are $5,500 ($6,500 if you are at least 50 years old). Contributions for 2014 can be made until April 15, 2015 (for both IRAs and Roth IRAs).
  3. Add to your child’s college savings.  Whether you open a specific college savings account, such as a Coverdell account or a 529 Plan, or opt for a more general account, such a mutual fund or savings bond, you can take an important step in securing your child’s future.

 If it makes it easier to get started, think of it this way:  you wouldn’t give your kids dessert before they had dinner.  This list is dinner, and there’s no telling what kinds of dessert await you if you take care of this very necessary business first.

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Who said? It’s Time to Enjoy Life. It’s Time to Play.

Time to PlayMy daughter, Jacquelyn, amazes me sometimes.  She’s 19 years old and I believe that she is very worldly and insightful.  She’s got a lot of common sense and insight.  Pretty much, I think she’s taken after her father in this area! (LOL).  I learn from all of my children, and learned something very important from her that I’d like to share with you.

As many people may know by now, I am a huge proponent for education.  I believe education is power, and do agree with many I have discussed this fact with – education alone is not enough.  I believe you need to learn what you need to know so you can enjoy life (what I say all the time about why we provide the resources and articles that we do on www.TimetoPlay.com); AND, you need to take what you’ve learned and take action to make your education work for you. 

That being said, Jackie told us the other day that she did not feel she was benefiting from attending college for right now.  She said that she wasn’t learning things she enjoyed.  She said that she needed to figure out what she wanted to “be” first, before wasting time and money to attend school at this time in her life.  She further noted that, between working almost full-time and going to school she had no time to enjoy her life.  She said the way she was going, she had no time to learn how to play the ukulele, take photos, exercise, or go to the beach.  She just wasn’t enjoying herself and felt exhausted.

Wow.

Neither her dad nor I became upset.  I was actually quite impressed that she was able to realize this and make a decision to take action towards change.  I guess she’s been listening to me “preaching” the concept of Time to Play – that you need to learn what you need to enjoy life and that it’s TIME to enjoy life – before it’s too late.  Hey, you never know what tomorrow will bring, and my biggest hope is that people will take advantage of every moment so that they will have no regrets.

I, myself, started www.TimetoPlay.com to re-learn what I needed to enjoy life.  I had gotten so busy on “the hamster wheel” running here and there, doing “stuff”, working so hard, and (etc.)… that I truly felt I had forgotten how.  As I talked to so many other people, they had forgotten how, too, which is why the concept behind this endeavor is so important.  I’ve truly set out to help 1 million people realize they need to consider the Time to Play Philosophy (you have to be happy, healthy, have money and a work life balance to enjoy life) and to provide resources to them so they can pick themselves up, dust themselves off and move forward. 

I live and breathe the Time to Play Philosophy.  Nevertheless, I am only human and, at times, find myself slipping back into old habits of working so hard or for long hours, and becoming tired. 

Jackie’s discussion with us really hit home.  She’s 1,000% right, and it’s so important – and necessary – to keep reminding ourselves what is important to us, each and every day.

Ask yourself if you are currently happy, healthy, have money to pay your bills without stressing out, and a work life balance.  If you are, keep it up, keep growing, and keep moving forward.  If you’re not, start learning what you need and start looking for ways to make changes.  You don’t have to change everything all at once, but changes can be small and progress towards a goal. 

Who said we need to go to college, get a job, work till we are so tired, retire with “a few good years” left to do what we “always dreamed of doing”, and then just die. 

WHO SAID???

I think many of us need to revisit our preconceived vision of a “normal” life that so many of us adopt.  I don’t believe taking those once a year vacations are enough.  I also hate that so many of us wish our days away waiting for the weekend.  I believe that we need to plan something wonderful into each and every day to create relaxation in our lives, to make us smile, to make us feel fulfilled.  The adoption of this way of life is not easy.  Start by taking a few minutes of each day and do something you enjoy.  Work up to making every day count, and then work up to making every second of every day count.  After all, every second is actually precious, even though we may forget…

“I’m too busy – I can’t do this now”, I hear you saying. 

I ask you – if not now, when?  It’s hardest to start to implement changes, but it is rewarding once we do.

It’s time to Enjoy YOUR life.  It’s Time to Play.

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Weigh in to the unofficial Cruise Planners/American Express client poll

I came across a New York Times list of 52 Places to Go in 2014.  It ‘s stunningly accented with photos and video from the 52 locations.  It reminded me of those wonderful places that I’ve been to.

11-20-2013 11-14-47 AMI’ve been to Capetown, South Africa, Scotland, England, New Zealand, Switzerland, Athens, Australia, Germany, Africa, Northern CA, Downtown Atlanta, Tennessee, Los Angeles, Croatia, Denmark, Italy and the Vatican, Holland, Sweden, China, and Niagara Falls,  among other places.

Take a look at the list and see how many you have been or want to travel to, and email me the results.  I would also love to speak to you about which destinations you’ve been and I will add it to my website.

So here it goes, the unofficial Cruise Planners American Express client poll:

·         How many of the 52 places named in the NYT’s article have you been to?

·         What destination tops your list of where you’d most like to go?

The outcome of the poll will be announced on my FaceBook page on May 15th.

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC
skorte@cruiseplanners.com
Winners of Best of Long Island Travel Agency 2014

www.kortetravel.com

Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702

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Time for Maintenance?

 

Car maintenance

With maintenance

I woke up thinking about my daughter’s boyfriend and his car.  There seem to be a bunch of things wrong with it, all at the same time, which we expect will cost a lot of money to fix.  Last night he was sitting at our kitchen table, dismayed. 

Of course there is never a budget to use for this type of purpose – when something unexpectedly breaks.  In this case, we all understand how hard our lives are without transportation, and, I’m sure we all have been in this same type of situation.  I, personally, don’t know anything about cars and maintenance.  The only thing I know about a car is that you put the key in to turn it on to make it go.  One day, maybe, I’ll tell you how I added oil through the little dip stick thing when I knew it needed some.  When I was around 19 years old, because of lack of my preventative maintenance, I had to replace a transmission at a most inopportune time in my life.  Of course it was also at a time when I had no money to pay for it.

That started me thinking about how we ignore things like that “engine knock” until we can’t ignore it anymore.  I’m not just speaking about ignoring maintenance that our car or home may require, but “maintenance” for our own bodies, our minds, and more.

There’s a saying by an unknown author, “Pay now or pay later. But pay you will”.  This can be associated with every part of our lives if you think about it.  If we ignore our health, we will pay for it sometime in the future.  If we ignore our relationships, our jobs, our clients, our kids, our faith, our …. well, pretty much everything…. we might just wind up paying for it in a way that will be displeasing to us down the line. 

If I’m not being clear enough, I’ll define what I’m trying to explain a little further.  If we ignore the things in our lives like our health, jobs, or loved ones, we might wind up with a negative outcome that we certainly may not want: we may become sick, we might lose our job, or we might have a displeasing relationship.  If we choose to ignore our negative thinking or something internally bothering us, that might, too, affect every area of our day including our health and performance. 

Think about it.  The concept of not devoting time for maintenance to things that we should attend to, both internally and externally that affects our lives, can lead to unfavorable outcomes. 

This proactive-type of thinking ties into the Time to Play Philosophy: you need to be happy, healthy, have money and a work life balance to have quality of life.  If you really think about it, this concept is very valid.  But, many times we ignore things because we don’t have time to address them, or we ignore things because we just don’t want to deal with something.  In my observations and my own experience, if you ignore something long enough, it will eventually come back to “bite you”.

What to do?  Take an evaluation of your health, happiness, financial situation and work life balance.  Those things you have pushed aside for way too long.  Make a list of priorities of where you can BEGIN to address these things.  Need to lose weight?  Need to look for a new job?  Need to start that retirement or college savings account?  Need to find a way to better organize or delegate at work so you can enjoy more freedom and flexibility? 

Yes, looking proactively at your life situations instead of the easy way out (for now) of ignoring things may seem overwhelming.  The “for now” in that sentence re-emphasizes that ignoring is easy – for now – but may not provide you with an easy end.  My philosophy is to learn what you need to know to enjoy life.  That’s why I started Time to Play.  So I could regain control over things that would enable me to better enjoy MY life. 

Look at your list.  What can you do to make one small change… just one baby step… to start to do that “maintenance”?  I believe that one small change is better than no change at all.  And, you may be surprised to find that once you start to make little changes, your life may become more pleasant and settled.

Time for maintenance?  Take a look.  It’s definitely easier to “pay” now with a little prevention than to “pay” later with negative health, marriage, job loss, or worse.

If you need a jump start, we have all sorts of coaches to help you in your journey to make changes or improvements.  Just give us a call at 631-331-2675 or email: info@timetoplay.com

It’s time to enjoy YOUR life!  It’s Time to Play!  www.TimetoPlay.com = Resources for a better life.  

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St. Patrick's Fortune Seekers

leprechaun's pot of gold

Leprechaun’s pot of gold

With St. Patrick’s Day so popular a holiday, it’s appropriate to discuss the continual search that so many in our society go on for the leprechaun’s pot at the end of the rainbow. Whether it’s winning the ultra mega grande lottery, getting a massive inheritance from some long-lost great aunt we never knew, or being discovered on Simon Cowell’s latest production, it a great American pastime to seek an immediate fortune.

This is not new, of course. The forty-niners of the mid-1800s sought their fortune in the California gold mines. Neither is it an out-dated phenomenon. Today’s North Dakota oil rush is calling fortune seekers from around the country to try their hand at high-paying, albeit sometimes dangerous jobs.

What should be instructive about such spectacles is an understanding of who actually ends up wealthy as a result of these “rushes.” Very few forty-niners ended up wealthy for the long haul. Those who came out of the California Gold Rush with lasting fortunes mostly included those who sold goods and services to the miners. I fully expect any lasting North Dakota fortunes to come out of the same vein. Why?

Because those who seek to make their fortunes overnight tend to be those who spend their fortunes overnight.

The National Endowment for Financial Education estimates that up to 70% of people who receive a sudden windfall of cash will lose it all within just a few years. If you look at the list of American Billionaires, or if you research the most common major of American millionaires, you won’t find any lottery winners or poker aficionados among them. Yes, you will find Wal-Mart and Mars Candy heirs at #6-9 and at #15 on the Billionaire’s list. However, I’m pretty certain they all knew their fortune was coming. You will also find casino owners… just not casino patrons.

So what is one to do if you’re aspiring after fame and fortune (or at least fortune)? First and foremost, get some perspective.

Not all, but the majority of fortune seekers think that their lives will be better if they just had more money. The reality is that money, in and of itself, will never bring happiness, and, in large quantities dumped into unexpecting pockets, can actually bring increased misery and pain.

Instead of being the end goal, money should be considered merely a tool. And like any tool, money can be used to build something of lasting satisfaction or it can bring us pain through its misuse.

To make money a tool, you simply need to create a plan to achieve something that requires money. For many, this plan is retirement. For others, it’s starting a business. For others still, it’s living in a dream home.

Whatever the end goal, make plans to get there. Specifically, create a savings plan so that you know how much to put away in the short and long term. Then create and live by a spending plan (a.k.a. Budget) so that you know what your spending limitations are.

As you build your life’s fortunes (whether or not they include financial wealth), may the leprechauns of St. Patrick’s Day bring you good luck rather than fairy mischief!

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How to connect with the person you are talking to? Silence

Our last comments were focused on communicating by phone. Your business success is influenced by your phone success. For those that think I am just talking about cold calling you are wrong. When on stage people can see you as you are, but when you speak through the phone they see you as they visualize you. This means you have to let the confidence in your voice speak for itself, whether it is a cold call or a client contact.

Besides the items mentioned last week, posture, preparation and visualization, there is one other element and that is silence.

Why are you calling? Perhaps you have this covered in your preparation but if not lets do that now. Why are your calling them? To get them to buy your product? Yes, ultimately that is true but on the initial call? I don’t think so. If this is a truly a cold call then this call is just like networking. Brief intro as to who you are, what you offer and then how you can help them.

Ask the questions. I will refer you to Tim Healy as to what those questions should be, but I will tell you that from a communication skills standpoint you need to be comfortable with the pause, but not silence.

Being able to pause when you are presenting to a live audience, on a webinar or to a person on the other end of the phone is a communication skill that is not to be overlooked.

Let me ask you a question. The weather outside has been incredible, how has that effected you?

How long did it just take you to answer that question and begin reading again. This is why you need to pause. Let the other person answer the question.

If you are talking to an audience or on a webinar you may want to let your audience know in advance that you want them to answer questions. Keeping them simple and safe in the beginning will help to get them more comfortable speaking during your presentation. But does the same strategy work if you are making a cold call or a sales call to an existing client?

My response to that is, yes it does. Don’t ask about the weather though or how are you doing? Those questions tell me this is either a social call or your killing time til you get your self organized.

Communicating by phone should still include the key elements that any live speech would have, connecting with your audience. This is done by interacting with them through questions, comments and by listening. Getting on your podium and talking about how great you and your services are means the only person you are effectively communicating with is yourself you must learn to pause and listen.

For more information about public speaking, presentations please contact me at:

Strategies of Success Motivational/Sales Training Speakers Bureau
Confidence from within communicated effectively
www.briansos.com
briansos@optonline.net
631-255-3581