Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

How Do You Define Success?

March 10, 2008

One of the things that became immediately obvious while trying to set our goals, was that we did not have a clear definition of what success meant to us.  Which is probably another reason we ended up in our financial fallout.  We had the usual culprits of fame and fortune raise their heads briefly, but was that really the way we wanted to define whether we are living a successful life?  Here are a few of the things to consider when creating your own definition of success.

What is the main objective to your life.  If it could be said that you accomplished one thing in your life, what would you have it be?  Personally, we do not think that “they made a lot of money” should be the main topic at our funerals.  If you did not have any bills, and loads of money, what would you wish to achieve in this life?

Money alone is not a worthy goal.  Most people who say they want a million dollars (or some other figure) in the bank before they can consider their life a success.  I have never heard of a case where money was the only destination.  More often than not, the desired result is something the person believes the money can provide.  Security, freedom,  conveniences, are usually the end result that is sought.

Be careful not to tie your success to a finite object or amount of money.  If you define your success as getting the newest Lamborghini  Diablo, one of two things could happen: (a)If you do not purchase the object or achieve the large bankroll in your lifetime, you may consider yourself a failure, or (b) Once you have the object, you will become complacent and think that you have “arrived.”

It is of some debate now, but this quote was at one time attributed to Emerson.  Regardless, the meaning is an awesome statement and a great way to define success:

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty,
to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

This is by far one of the best definitions of success I have ever heard.  Another great way to live a successful life: To love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your might.  To love your neighbor as you love yourself.  If we all lived that way, this would be a better world.

Finally, make sure that it is YOUR definition.  We are so bombarded by television and the media about how we should define success.  I look at these people (movie stars, singers, and so forth) and I feel sorry for them.  They have no privacy.  Many end up on drugs and alcohol.  Even though they “have it all,” many are never satisfied.  Be sure that you define what your life should be about.  Take the time to consider this carefully.  By defining what is truly wanted out of life, you may find that the eighty hours a week or more that you are working are doing nothing to get you closer to your idea of success.

Take a few minutes to think about your definition of success.  Are you currently getting closer?  Farther away?  What can you change to make your life a success as you define it? 

Free Software that Makes My Life Easier Part 2: Mozilla Firefox Add-ons

February 18, 2008

Firefox add on symbol

Here we are going to list some of the Firefox add-ons that have been extremely helpful in saving us time and effort on a daily basis. There are too many add-ons available to count, just don’t get carried away and install too many (it will affect browser performance, I know!). My advice is to stick with only the add-ons that you will be using more than once a day. I look at them as ways to increase productivity, or to save time and money; they must meet one of these criteria before I will install them.

  1. Session Manager. This is the first add-on that I use when I open my browser. It probably saves me 10-15 minutes daily. You can create as many sessions as you wish and label them all. I have several, but my core session is the one that I use daily. It includes all the pages I visit daily. Be sure to create a master password before you save a session. It will open in tabs and log you in automatically after you enter your password. Try it out.
  2. Scribefire. This add-on will only appeal to you fellow bloggers out there. It opens an interface at the bottom of the page and allows you to post to your blog instantly.
  3. PDF Download. This is a great tool. How many times have you clicked on a link only to find it is a .pdf file that takes 5 minutes to download? This add-on stops that. Whenever you click on a link that is a .pdf, it automatically detects the file and lets you choose how you want to handle the file.
  4. No Script. If you visit sites that you are not familiar with often, this add-on is a great security feature. It will allow absolutely no script to run on the page without your permission. You only have to allow sites that you frequent often once, and there is a menu if you change your mind about certain scripts.
  5. Auto Shutdown. This allows your computer to automatically shutdown once all files have been downloaded. I usually grab any music, podcast, or videos before bed and let them download. Whenever they are finished, my PC automatically shuts down. At the time of this post, the add-on was not found. It is possible that an update is being processed.
  6. StumbleUpon. This will add a StumbleUpon toolbar. If you frequently use this application, this is a great tool. All of your stumble options can be managed from the toolbar.
  7. Twitterbar. If you use Twitter to let friends know what you are into, this allows you to post to Twitter directly from your address bar by clicking a little green circle.
  8. Answers. Provides one click information on words or phrases that you may encounter on the net.

These next two are for the Thunderbird email client developed by Mozilla.

  1. Lightning. Adds calendar functionality to Thunderbird.
  2. Provider for Google Calendar. Allows Lightning and Sunbird to sync with Google calendar.
I hope that you will find some of these useful! Have a great day and enjoy making your life a little easier!

Improve Your Financial Situation Through Education

February 16, 2008

It seems that some people loose hope and feel that they must stay in their current situations forever. Although it may not be easy, there always exist a way for people to improve their earning potential. Again, it could require self sacrifice, and less sleep sometimes, but these are some of the ways to increase your marketability.

Free/Low cost

Here are three ways to educate yourself that will only require your time, and maybe transportation cost:

  1. Your local library. Whatever your decision, your library is the best place to start. There you can find information on job markets, the process for getting certified to certain jobs and so forth. For a list of some ways your library can be a great place to visit check here. Your library will also have an array of books on just about any skill set. This will not only help you decide if you want to pursue that avenue, you may be able to glean enough information to gain an entry level position with demonstrated knowledge.
  2. The internet. The world wide web is choke full of information. There are literally thousands of sites with. Although you must validate the authority of the site, usually a .org, .gov, or .edu are sites that will give you accurate information. I have found free ebooks and tutorials on such things as HTML programming, internet marketing, how to run a saw mill, and the list goes on. Again, this information may not get you the job, but it may increase your chances if you are able to talk intelligently with the interviewer about their companies operations.
  3. Find a mentor. This is a great way to learn a particular skill. Find someone who is an expert in any field, and ask them to teach you. Now, never expect nor ask for anything for free; rather offer to volunteer to help them a couple hours a week, or even join their team and get on their payroll. There are many high demand jobs on the blue collar front that only require a demonstration of the skill. Welding, car repair, HVAC helper, and a few others.

Expense education/Ways to pay for it

This list are the some of the obvious (and not so obvious) ways to get an education by paying for it. We will also list some ideas on how to pay for these expenses. First we will start with the institutions.

College

There are basically three types of colleges in our area that we had to choose from:

  1. Private. This is by far the most expensive route to take when getting a higher education. Even though the universities where we are have programs in place to aid low income individuals with tuition, it is often the little expenses that make this choice not an option.
  2. State universities. Our state universities are around 60% cheaper than the private universities. Most will have financial aid programs in place if you live or graduated in their state. State universities are usually more apt to offer classes at varying hours for those who work. State universities normally offer more online classes. This is the best option for those who work full time or more, and have a family to take care of as well. These classes allow you to set your own schedule; however, it is imperative that you set a schedule and stick to it.
  3. Community colleges. This is the cheapest option in our area. If it has been a while since you have been in school, I recommend a community college for remedial courses to help bring you up to speed in the core curriculum areas. The cost is less, and they are a great help to those who just need to freshen up on the general subjects. Most community colleges offer and array of associates degrees that can be completed in two years or less. Even though these jobs may not pay the best, if it is an increase to where you are now it can always be used as a stepping stone to a higher degree. Our community college also has an agreement with the state colleges for a full transferability of college hours should you choose to pursue a four year degree.
  4. Technical schools. I will place these under this heading, but I honestly do not know much about them. It is my understanding that they offer career specific training. This would probably be a good option if you knew what you wanted to do, and the courses were offered. I knew a gentleman who loved to paint cars. He made decent money on his own, but by going to technical school he did not have to take the english and history that may be required in college, instead they focused entirely on his line of work. By completing these courses, he raised his hourly rate and was able to take on new business from insurance companies and such because of his certification.
Now we will review some of the ways to pay for this educaiton.
  1. Fill out a FAFSA. This is a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This type of aid can be used at both colleges and technical schools. The financial aid office at your school of choice will make the decision on some of you aid, so it is best to talk to them directly once you have filled this out and submitted the information to the.
  2. Your state programs. Again, some states have programs in place for residents or graduates in their state. The financial aid office will have more information on this as well.
  3. Check with your employer. Some companies will reimburse employees for college courses. Although some may reimburse the full amount, most will only do a percentage, and some will only pay on courses that relate to your line of work. Your companies HR office will have more information on this type of aid.
  4. Pay for it yourself. This is the least favorite, but sometimes only option available. One way to facilitate this is to start saving on expenses. Take the money that you save and apply it toward your education. Maybe you have a bad habit that you can stop and place the money in an account for college. Some schools have work programs that allow you to work twenty hour a week or so and apply part of your wage toward your bill.
  5. Scholarships. There are also many scholarships available. All have guidelines that have to be met, as well as deadlines. Check with the financial aid office for more details for your area and line of study.
The main thing is to do your research and pick the route that works best for you. Keep in mind that it is a long process, but the payoff will be worth it.
How did you pay for your education? Are you considering going back to school?

 

How to Set and Achieve Goals

February 12, 2008
Targets
One of the most liberating things that you can do is set goals and review them often. At one time I thought of goals as useless, and just more work on top of an already stretched day. Here are some simple ideas about properly setting goals, and the importance of setting goals. I will confess that we have “wondered” around rather aimlessly until recently. Here is the process that we went through.
My wife remembered seeing information in her college orientation book about goal setting. Here is a summary of the information that was included: Make your goals S-M-A-R-T. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
  1. Specific. It is best to be as specific as possible when setting a goal. You do not want to say “I would like to make a ton of money in 2008.” This is to vague, and has no real value. Your idea of a ton may differ from the norm. A specific goal would be as follows: “To make $30,000 from a small business endeavor by 1JAN09.” It is very detailed, as well as having a deadline.
  2. Measurable. As with the above examples, the first one givs absolutely no clue as to when the goal will be achieved. It is psychologically important for me to be able to track my progress. I am a visual learner, thus seeing a line chart or bar graph showing progress is like a shot of adrenaline for me. Make sure that your goal is measurable and the progress can be tracked.
  3. Attainable. Nothing will kill your spirits more than a sense of hopelessness. When you set unattainable goals, it does nothing more than discourage you and lead you to abandon the entire goal setting process. For example, I am completely out of shape; I would not want to set a goal of running six miles in one hour next week.
  4. Realistic. Goals must be realistic, or again, you will become discouraged. I highly advocate setting challenging goals, but do not make them impossible. If you want to set a goal that may border realistic, consider if you are able to attain the goal as well as committed to making the necessary sacrifice to achieve the objective.
  5. Timely. It is vital that you place a time frame on your goal. “I would like to visit the Rocky Mountains”, is not a timely goal. When do you want to visit the Rocky Mountains? Without a time frame there is no sense of urgency. For us, if there is not a sense of urgency we will procrastinate like crazy.
It has been stated that less than three percent of the population have written goals. I can not stress the importance of this enough. If you do not write your goals down, they will sometimes slip into the realm of dreams, which are nothing more than nice thoughts. Study after study has shown that people who write their goals down are 10 times more likely to achieve them. Would you plan a journey to somewhere you have never been without a map? Just take off in the general direction and hope for the best? As absurd as this sounds, it is how most walk through the journey of life. Writing your goals relieves your mind from trying to keep up with them. It also can make you more focused on achieving them. We like to carry ours with us so that we can review them anytime we like.
I would also like to say that setting goals does not only apply to career and finances. Try to include all areas of your life. What would you like achieve as an employee? Father? Friend? Neighbor? Church member? Spouse? Citizen? When you are faced with tough decisions, knowing what you want to secure in these “roles” can help with making some of those decisions. Will this action bring you closer to any of the goals you would like to obtain?
We were kind of forced to get things in order rather quickly after our catastrophe.
Having goals has drastically improved our productivity, along with giving us a little peace of mind.
What method do you use to set goals? How do you measure your progress?