Opportunity, Gandalf & Why I Miss Our Single-Wide

Opportunity, Gandalf & Why I Miss Our Single-Wide

~Joel’s Blog

Opportunity came knocking…or was that Gandalf?

Ten years ago, this week, an opportunity came that we could not ignore. As a result, our family began an adventure of epic scale. At least, it felt like it. A job promotion took us away from our family, friends of many years in a community that we really liked, and moved us to another state. Of course, this isn’t much of a unique story. Lots of people take this adventurous road. Some make it a habit. (more…)

Resolve Versus Resolutions: 4 Steps For Progress

Resolve Versus Resolutions: 4 Steps For Progress

Resolve Versus Resolutions

~Joel’s Blog

Resolutions? What Resolutions?

Every time a new year begins, we hear a chorus of voices declaring that we should make resolutions for what we want throughout the course of those fresh, 365 days to come. From the media to gurus, ample guidance is given for “how to make resolutions you can keep!” Until we rinse and repeat, next year.

Well, if you’re anything like me, there’s a trail of still-waiting resolutions stretching off into your past.

There’s a better way of engaging in your life–of living your life.

Choose Resolve

There are four problems with making resolutions. But they provide clues to a better approach.

Resolutions are basically just a list of what you’re unhappy with and, as a result, what you plan on doing differently:

    • I want to lose weight.
    • I want to make more money.
    • I’ll do better in my relationships this year.
    • Less TV, more books!
    • I’m going to start ________________.
    • I’m going to finish ________________.
    • This is the year that I’m finally going to _________________________________________.

Observing how we state our resolutions, how we build them in our minds, helps us see why they fail:

  1. They are too simple. With no details, how will you know when you have achieved your weight goal? How much “more” money will make you happy? When are you “going to finish” the whatever?
  2. There’s no motivation. Besides have some vague feeling that prompted the resolution, what will drive you towards making the changes? More vague feelings?
  3. There’s no measurement. How do you measure doing “better” in your relationships?
  4. There’s nothing unique. Really? This year you want to be healthier, wealthier, nicer…whatever-er? And that’s different than what everyone else wants…how?

We make resolutions because we want to change a certain behavior. Or we want a different result in our life. We want to be a better version of us.

Which is great! Resolve to make it happen. And then make it happen.

  1. Get specific: Write down what you resolve to make happen in your life this year. Be specific: how much weight?  and by when? Do you need the entire year to achieve it? Or only 6 months?
  2. Be daring! This is your life, after all. Whatever you resolve to change better be powerful enough, exciting enough, and serious enough to keep you focused and motivated. Dream big. Dream really big! Get audacious.
  3. Embrace accountability. Let’s go back to the goal of having better relationships. With who? Have you asked them how they would measure your improvement? If that’s not an option or just doesn’t fit, decide how you will measure what “better” looks like. Monitor your progress, at least every week.
  4. Be you. There’s no one else like you. Chances are good that the very things you resolve to change–to make better in your life–might also make life better for everyone else.

The task is to recognize that you are uniquely special, have something to give, some talent no one else shares in quite the same way.  This gift needs to blossom so we can appreciate and enjoy the benefits of it and acknowledge you for it.   You owe this to yourself and to all of us to honor your gifts, for only when you share your unique joy with the world does the entire world benefit.  Every advance humankind has known has come because of someone’s effort.  Don’t let shyness rob you and the world of the power and the passion that lies within you.  No one can be all that you will be except you yourself.  Follow your passion.

Joel Garfinkle

Take the plunge!

Dump making resolutions! They’re nothing more than fancy-sounding wishes.

Throw yourself completely into resolve. Embrace your life. Take action. Everyday.

What are things you resolve to change in your life? Have you considered how much better that could be for those around you, too?

Engage here. Please add to the conversation.

photo credit: Iguanasan via photopin cc

 

Nurturing Creative Genius: 5 Simple Steps

Nurturing Creative Genius: 5 Simple Steps

Nurturing Creative Genius

Genius Leads Success

For decades, the economy has been shifting away from manufacturing and industry. Now, knowledge drives economic growth. The most successful entrepreneurs in recent years are known for their creative genius. Consider Steve Jobs, of Apple. Bill Gates, of Microsoft. Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook. Warren Buffett, uber-investor of Berkshire-Hathaway. Elon Musk, of Space X and Tesla. Richard Branson, of Virgin. Even JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter “empire.” Many more names come to mind.

Schools have their hands full already. Bringing the kinds of learning necessary for students to thrive, creatively, in this knowledge-based economy? That’s a challenge in times of lean budgets. In fact, too often, “creative” programs are considered fluffy. When push comes to shove, funding is cut.

In stark contrast, many successful people became successful because of their creativity, not inspite of it. Their success came from…what they didn’t know. Their creative impulse drove them to try something. Something new. Something different. Something never done before.

Genius, Interviewed

Recently, my daughter and I were interviewed on our local NBC affiliate, on this subject. We had a delightful time. Over the past 3 years we observed something. Jessica grew more interested in writing fiction, as she has observed me writing fiction. Accidentally, we then tripped into the next 4 steps in nurturing her creative genius. Soon, she’ll have her inaugural fantasy novel published! This exciting event in her life prompted the interview. Feel free to watch, if you’d like. It’s just 3.5 minutes long. [Note: click on the little CC button in the lower right of the screen if you don’t need closed-captioning]

5 Steps to Nurture Creative Genius

As supportive adults in the lives of kids—youth ministers, volunteers, clergy, counselors, parents & grandparents—we can impact how deeply and how far kids engage their creativity. Big challenges face the world young people will inherit. Nurturing a habit of creativity will enhance not just the lives of those creatives but those they influence.

These steps might seem simple or obvious. But consider what impact greater intentionality would bring.

  1. Observe:

    Notice the things that interest the kids you influence. It could be reading, writing, drama, music, poetry, design, building things. Just make mental notes of what gets them excited and engaged. These interests might fall under the simpler heading, “Hobbies.” But not all hobbies have the element of creation around them.

  2. Search:

    Find avenues for them to pursue their interest. Is there an inexpensive way to try it out? A a club to join? Not all creative interests will stick, so you won’t want to go all-in right away supporting Junior’s creative jag. Remain observant, because the newer creative interest may build of the earlier one. That may indicate a creative trend.

  3. Encourage:

    Provide simple ways for your kids to try out new things. And more new things. The idea is to nurture a spirit of creative exploration.

  4. Nudge:

    Sometimes kids get distracted by the newest “shiny object” so a little guidance back to the core interest might help. In a world full of iThis and iThat and millions of apps to amuse and distract, your work is cut out for you. If all else fails, maybe their creative energy can be aimed at developing a new app!

  5. Celebrate!

    Always take time to celebrate and recognize kid’s achievements along the way. This should be a fun process, not an end goal. Have fun nurturing creative genius. And make sure the genius has fun, too!

What do you think? Is creativity essential? Or over-rated? Do you think the economy has really changed? Or not so much? Make your case.

Engage here. Lob your comments into the discussion panel below. Curious about the books Joel has written? Click here for the books in our store.

photo credit: Capture Queen ™ via photopin cc

Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recovery (Part 2)

Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recovery (Part 2)

~Joel’s Blog

Fear Of Debt? Crawl Before You Walk

It’s simple enough and requires no math skill. Spend more money than you make. You go into debt.

That was true for us, as we revealed in part one of this series. In retrospect, there really was no way to avoid that unpleasant money outcome, given our meager income versus the cost-of-living challenges we faced. Consequently, as soon as we could we sought out greater income opportunities. Things got better.

As we saw last time, having loads of money doesn’t mean you will feel secure. Kara and Ron taught me that, as a financial planner.

Many people around the world, especially in America, had been living very high until the Great Recession hit. Things were pretty good. Money was moving easily. Account values and home prices were rising quickly. The expectation of that continuing may have actually set us up for the crash.

Life is what happens after you make plans.

But that assumes that there was a plan. Many people, around 2007, didn’t have any plan. They were winging it. Things felt good. And making a plan felt like work. Even unnecessary. They found out the hard way that not having a plan feels terrible and creates much more work, headaches, and heartache.

5 Steps to Emotional Recovery

So, what does it mean and how do you “prepare for rain” in your life? Prepare For Rain is a place where people get “unstuck,” start growing again, and renew their dreams and passions. To do that, you must take these five key steps:

  1. Recognize that you need “rain” in your life. Because of the Great Recession, that’s not so hard these days. Of course, we’re not talking about physical rain. Too many people are stuck in the mindset and expectation of scarcity, rather than abundance, even with money. “Rain” here means renewal, restoration, maybe even rebirth.
  2. Honestly reflect on where you are right now. Is your work satisfying to you? Sure, it’s important to have income, but are you trading your time for too little money? Is there something else you could do to supplement your income? A part-time job? Better yet, a home-based business that involves something you love…something you are gifted at?
  3. Get serious Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recoveryabout your debt/income ratio. I’m all in favor of not having debt. But I don’t advocate people get out of debt as fast as they can—as many financial experts do. Don’t get me wrong. I am totally on board with the concept and the goal of becoming debt-free. The problem isn’t with the concept. It’s with people’s money habits. Many behaviors need to change, simultaneously, to achieve a “no-debt” status. Debt isn’t evil. It makes economies run and allows companies to expand, which includes hiring more people. The critical issue is how expensive is the debt: how much does it actually cost to buy the money. As an advisor—and then a leader of advisors—I saw many people work very hard at paying off their debt, using every spare dollar to do so. Often, I was advising and helping them to do so. While their goal was admirable, when life threw them a curve some stopped trying. Because every dollar had gone to debt-reduction, no money went to savings [not what I recommended]. So, what happened when life threw them a curve? They went back into debt to deal with the challenge. For some, this became a rinse & repeat cycle. They felt defeated. Therefore, I advocate that you continue building a savings account even while paying down the debt because it’s proactive and responsible.
  4. Re-engage your dreams. Chances are high that you put them on a shelf some time ago. Maybe a very long time ago. Why? Because you needed to work? OK, but why does it have to be one or the other? If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, then write. Get up a little earlier every day for a month…and write. See how you feel a month from now! You’ll feel awesome. Maybe you’ll have something to publish. Same thing for painting, music, poetry, whatever. It’s your dream. No one else can bring it to life besides you.
  5. Give back. Our perspective about things gets very skewed when we’re in our own little bubble. Volunteer somewhere. Lots of organizations need help, so find one that engages your passions.

Engage here. Does any of this resonate with you? Someone you care about? Have you downloaded our free guide yet?

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recovery

Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recovery

~Joel’s Blog

Money & Its Emotional Toll

In preparing for a national radio show this summer (7/23/13 program), the host explained what he wanted to cover with me. He was curious how I went from a career in full-time church-based youth ministry to an award-winning career as a field leader in the financial services industry.

Simple. Being in ministry put us in debt.

Don’t get me wrong. Being in ministry was very rewarding…and challenging. In part, because we always made so little.

Between my eight years (full-time) and my wife’s seven years, we were financially stressed. Very stressed.

I knew people in sales, especially in financial sales, like investments and insurance. It was all too clear that they were doing better financially than we were. When I debated whether I could be successful in that industry, I recognized that sales people need “people skills” and the ability to connect with others about matters of the heart. Since that is an essential skill in ministry, I believed that it could be a 2nd career path that I’d find both successful and meaningful. In fact, it ended up feeling as much a ministry as actually working within a church building.

The Trouble With Money

As a leader in a national financial planning firm, I saw a common thread in how people interacted with their money…how they felt about it…how they reacted to it.

“Trouble with money”—whether it’s our attitude about it or our behaviors with it—causes people a lot of stress. A nearly universal experience was that people didn’t feel like they ever had enough money. This wasn’t about greed, but about fear.

When Fear Comes To Town

Kara was 85 years old and widowed for many years. Her lifestyle was very comfortable. She was in extraordinarily good health. She had more than a half-million dollars in liquid assets. And she was very worried about what would happen if her health failed. She didn’t want to be a burden to her two adult kids, even though they were very successful in their own right. But Kara wanted to be sure that even an extreme long-term care event wouldn’t derail anyone in the family, financially. So, I completed a financial plan for her and was able to definitively show her she’d be fine; they’d be fine.

Ron was a depressed 57-year old when I met him. He’d lost over 50% of his retirement assets (401k plan at a major company) during the dot.com crash of 2000-2002. Because of the drop in his net worth, Ron concluded he’d need to keep working until he was at least 70. His goal of full-time fishing at age 60 was gone. Why?

He’d come to believe that because his 401(k) had reached $750,000, that he therefore needed $750,000 to retire.

Just because that’s how big the number on his statement got to before falling. When we completed a financial plan, we discovered that—based on his desired lifestyle needs and retirement goals—he only needed that value to be about $350,000, at age 60. He still had three more years to work and save…and his “shrunken” 401(k) was more than that. This news completely changed his outlook and empowered him to move forward with his original goal for retirement.

Before taking any steps, you need to get a clear picture of where your path is going. We need to work at rejecting fear in our lives. In the next blog, we’ll look at practical steps for healthy responses to money.

Engage here. What’s your experience with money? How about those around you? If you haven’t yet, download our free guide, Reclaim Your Purpose.

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