The Power of Compounding

Contrary to what many of you believe, this post is not going to be about finances.  Many are aware of the word "compound" as it relates to the phrase compound interest.  For those who are unaware, this is the idea where money is earned through interest by which replicates itself for long term growth.  In short, money earns money.  Sadly, most know this idea on the debt side when looking at the credit card statement.  You ever wonder why it takes so long to pay off a debt.  It is because the amount owed compounds over time. 

Nevertheless, I am going to apply this idea to a variety of areas.

Only One Avenue

Have you ever noticed that people only focus their efforts on one thing.  What I mean is that most individuals take an all or none approach to life.  No matter what the area, there is a preferred method to follow and that is it.  Using finances, how do most people make their money?  Obviously, it is from their jobs.  One source of income.  The same is true for exercise.  The majority of people pursue one activity which is their favorite.  For example, some lift weights.  Others dance.  Still others walk or jog.  Either way, there is a preferred model which is followed.

The problem with this approach is one needs to be 100% accurate (correct) to realize any major benefits.  In the area of health, lifting weights is definitely a pathway which will yield outcomes that are favorable.  Adding muscle through weight training helps the body to burn new calories entering the body and eat away at fat (stored calories).  However, just lifting weights will not increase overall health if everything else is ignored.  Diet is proven to be a major component to one's health and the effects of weight training can be negated if one is surviving on candy and donuts.  One avenue will not achieve the optimum end.

The idea of compounding is to combine as many beneficial acts together so that they can start to duplicate themselves.  In the health example, while weight lifting adds a certain benefit, this can be multiplied by one eating a high protein diet (if one is seeking weight).  At the same time, if one is seeking to lose weight, this coupled with a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats will work better than just a dietary drink along.  The added muscle will help to burn more calories thus speeding up the process.

Most areas of life can be improved if one will only apply this idea.  No matter where one is starting from, there are a number of different activities which will have a positive approach.  You job is to determine which of these actions will have the greatest impact and do as many as possible.  In fact, this is the best way to get out of a rut.  Make a list of all that can be done and do as much as possible.  Each action will build upon the previous.

Little Things Do Make A Difference

I am a big believer in the effectiveness of changing one's life by making thousands of small changes.  Everyone is continually seeking out the major change and, at times, these are necessary.  However, often people will achieve the same results by making a series of smaller changes which, over time, amount to a great deal.  This is the premise of compounding.

Again, we will go back to health.  There are hundreds of things I could list as ways to improve your health.  Let us suppose you are overweight and in terrible shape.  What are some of the things you can immediately do which will alter your path over the next two years?

Here is a brief list:

-Eliminate donuts, candy, soda, creamers, salty snacks, and breads from your diet
-Walk each night for 20 minutes
-Stretch daily
-Quit smoking and excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages
-Park your car at the far end of the parking lot to walk extra steps
-Do 20-30 air squats a couple times a day
-Drink 8 glasses of water throughout the day
-Eliminate coffee and other caffeine laden beverages
-Eat a salad with every meal
-Have vegetables with each meal
-Eat breakfast in the morning
-Jump rope
-Implement weight training a couple of times a week
-Buy a push lawnmower and mow you own lawn
-Eat fish 2-3 times per week
-Eliminate sugary cereals
-Skip fast food places forever
-Walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator

Notice how many items are already on the list.  Some of these require great effort.  However, much of this list is rather simple to implement.  Parking far away from the building adds extra steps without creating much work.  Sure it is difficult in the rain and cold but when it comes to health, can you afford to risk it.  The point is the more of this list that you implement, the greater the chance of success.  And this is true in all walks of life.

Compounding says that the results are greater than the totality of the parts.  Because of the power of compounding, one will received an increased benefit as compared to doing a single action.  For example, losing 20 pounds will make one feel great.  At the same time, stretching and increasing one's flexibility feels the same.  But, imagine how good one feels after losing 20 pounds and gaining increased flexibility through stretching.  The net result is greater when both are combined as opposed to each activity on its own.

Therefore, I challenge you to take an area of your life that is less than stellar at this moment.  Once you have that, sit down and list all the actions which will have a positive effect in that area.  Consider both the addition of some actions which are beneficial along with the elimination/reduction of actions which are negative.  Make this list as long as possible overlooking nothing.  Put even the most minor of activities on there.  The reason being is that the more you do in this particular area, the better the results will be.  And let us not forget, what seems minor on its own could have a terrific effect long term.  Remember, small actions taken over a long period of time will have great effect. 

If your life is progressing well and you are uncertain of an area to focus here is an idea for you: list all the things you can to do live to be 100 years old.

What better way to improve your life than by extending it a decade or two?
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Low Hanging Fruit

Today I am going to cover a concept that hopefully will uplift the spirits of people, especially those in worse shape.  It is a simple fact that few people are completely happy with their lives nor do they not have anything that can be improved upon.  There has yet to be one who has attained the state of perfection.  That being the case, we all have some things we can adjust to make our lives better.  For some of us, this is a rather long list.

A Complete Mess

Everyone has a different starting point.  Some of you out there basically have lives that are a total mess.  No matter what area you focus your attention upon, it is a train wreck.  The idea of improvement is absolutely daunting because of the magnitude of the garbage piles in your life.  Financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally rank in negative numbers on a scale of 1-10.  Just getting back to zero would be a major accomplishment and that is the idea behind this article.

The advantage to being a complete mess is that improvement is rather easy to attain.  For those who have put forth major effort over a long period of time, a noticeable difference is harder to attain.  But for the ones who dwell in the garbage dump, success can be had with a few basic changes.  It is this point that I want you to grasp onto and hold dear.

As is my custom, I will use analogies to emphasize the lesson.  Here we will use weight loss, my favorite topic since the results are physical and visual in nature.  Let us compare two women; one 250 pounds and the other 130 pounds (we will leave out height in this example).  With these women, we are going to presume they both can lose some pounds and, hence, embark on a weight loss program.  Now, here is the question, who do you think will have an easier time losing weight?

If you answered the 250 pound person you are correct.  When someone has such poor habits that she is able to maintain that excessive weight, any change in her diet or exercise will net huge results.  For example, simply cutting out sugary drinks while going for a 30 minute walk each night might help this person drop 20 pounds.  For someone at 130 pounds, it is going to require a great deal more effort to get the same results because it is presumable that her eating and exercise habits are much better.

Low Hanging Fruit

The key to change, especially if you have not exerted much effort in a particular area, is to go after the low hanging fruit to start.  In the weight loss example, the idea is to eliminate those foods which have the greatest impact first.  Thus, sugary drinks, donuts, cakes, potato chips, and candies are removed.  Someone who is obese can realize a rapid difference by doing this.  For someone in shape, like Michael Phelps, he would have to swim an additional 8 miles a day to notice any improvement.  His fruit is at the top of the tree.

One point I need to emphasize is that people too often look to see a difference.  Again, going based upon our example, which person will notice more of a difference by losing 20 pounds?  Naturally, the one who is 130 pounds.  If she lost 20 pound, reducing herself to 110, most would notice the huge loss as a percentage of her body weight.  Someone who is 250 going to 230 will not see that much of a difference visually.  And this is where the mistake is often made.  Do not focus upon the comparison but what it takes to get results.  Sure the 250 pound person needs to go a lot further than the 130 pound person to be fit.  Nevertheless, when starting out, the advantage lies with the heavier woman.  If some area of your life is like this, use this to your advantage.

I will give you another example.  In my front yard there is a bed of seashells that line the front walk.  As you can guess, over time the weeds will grow through the shells creating a mess.  Recently, I looked at that bed of shells and noticed how the weeds took control.  So what was my solution?  One morning I spent about 10 minutes pulling the BIGGEST clumps of weeds out.  I did not worry about the small ones at that time.  Obviously, over time, they will grow to be a bigger problem.  Nevertheless, my goal was to make a noticeable difference in the look of the bed.  Hence I went after the low hanging fruit which netted me the greatest difference in the least amount of time.  Now, if I spend a bit of time each week pulling weeds, my level of fruit will be higher up on the tree.

Results Are Visual

We live in a physical world where things are judged visually.  People need to see results not just hear about them.  This is something everyone knows.  Our boss does not want to hear about our plans for the report, he or she wants to see the report completed.  Therefore, when seeking to completely turn around an area of life that presently is in chaos, we need to concentrate on the largest items first.

There is another mental analogy that is widely used in the personal development area.  Picture an empty jar that you are going to fill completely.  What is the best way to start?  The lesson goes is that to best fill the jar, put the largest rocks in first.  Once those are in the jar, one proceeds to put the next largest and so on until all the rocks are in the jar.  Of course, after the rocks are placed in there, then the sand can but dumped in.  The reason for this methodology is that the small items will fit into the pockets created by the larger items.  However, if we concentrate on the smaller items first, we will have difficulty with the larger ones later one.  It is the same thing in life.  Focus on the largest items first.

Have you ever seen someone who had a car that was a complete mess?  Here is a person that seems to never throw anything out.  Naturally, the rugs in the car need a thorough vacuuming but that is an assumption since you cannot see them with all the fast food bags and soda bottles thrown about.  Therefore, the starting point is to take a garbage bag and fill it with all the excess trash.  This simple act will make a huge visual difference even if the vacuuming is not done.  Again, if we are going to compare, the person who keeps his or her car spotless is going to have to take the step of paying for a professional detail job to make a noticeable difference.  The cost (effort) is much greater for this person.

In closing, realize the worse things are for you the easier it is for you to change direction and create momentum in the other direction.  Forget about where you are as compared to where you want to go.  A mindset like that will overwhelm you eliminating all desire to move forward.  Instead, keep the visual of a fruit tree imprinted upon your mind and ask yourself what is the low hanging fruit that I can tend to which will make a major difference.  The above analogies should give you a good idea of how to do this.  Look for the habits/actions which either cause the most problem (eliminate them) or the ones which will net the greatest results (implement them).  There are plenty of areas in life where you are the 250 pound woman.  Seek out to drop that first 20 pounds; that is the first big stone to go into the jar.
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Singleness of Focus

Think and Grow Rich is one of the most successful self improvement books of all time.  This book, written in the early part of the 20th century, is the result of years of study of the most successful and powerful men in the United States at that time.  The author, who later went on to head up Success Magazine, spent two decades researching what made these men different from everyone else.  And, the result has become the secret which is contain in every page of that book.


We live in a multi-tasking world.  Everyone tries to do multiple things at one time.  Throughout our day, while we are working, we are continually interrupted by instant messages and emails.  People also appear in person in our offices/work space creating more disruption.  Ultimately, productivity is lost because of the fact we are continually starting and stopping.

The solution to this, we are told, is to focus upon one thing at a time.  Our minds are created in such a way that it can consciously focus only upon one area.  While it moves at a speed that is measured in nanoseconds, even the slightest move away from the present task is an interruption.  The problem with this is that a "restart" is required where one determines where he or she left off and what the next step is.  In many cases, this is instant but, if the interruption is lengthy, it can take a bit longer.

What I just revealed to you is not great secret.  Most of you have heard that same mantra repeatedly.  However, Think and Grow Rich dealt with focus on another level.  The scenario I just described takes a micro view of activity.  Stone, the author, took a more macro approach.  It was his conclusion that the men he studied could attribute their success to a single-minded focus in their field.  They did not diversify or hedge to prevent loss.  Instead, they were 100% committed to their beliefs and the industry they were operating in.  Carnegie was a steel man.  Rockefeller oil.  In later years, we see the same thing with some of the national business giants.  Sam Walton was a retailer.  Bill Gates sold operating systems.  In fact, many entities encountered trouble when they got away from their chosen field (think HP moving into computers instead of focusing exclusively on printers).

The bottom line is that history's greatest leaders often had the single-minded focus to concentrate all their efforts in one area.  They were not "jack-of-all-trades" but, rather, experts in their chosen professions.  It was their expertise which enabled them to make decisions and move their companies in directions most never would have considered.

True Resolve

Along with a single-minded focus, the other aspect that separated these men from the general population is their resolve to make their vision materialize.  The ability to focus upon one area helped to increase their knowledge and general abilities to navigate troubles that periodically arose.  However, nothing great is ever accomplished without the unending resolve to be successful.  In other words, failure was not an option.  While things went wrong from time-to-time, these were nothing more than temporary setbacks.  No matter what happened, their resolve was to continue forward.

The basic formula looks something like this:

A focus on a major vision + unending resolve to make that come true = success

Notice there is no waffling or indecision.  These men were dedicated to the path they chose.  They cut off all other possibility of than the outcome they desired and were willing to work as hard and long as necessary to make it come true.  Contrast this with what most people do which is to quit at the first sign of difficulty.  The general population mostly lacks the general vision which stops then immediately.  However, even those who do have some insight into what they want will usually succumb when difficulties arise.  And this is the basic reason why some succeed while most other fail.  Setbacks are temporary but giving up is permanent.

Hence, we are at the point where you have a decision to make.  What is it that you want?  What is your overriding vision?  Consider your values and what is important to you and develop a plan of where you want to be?  This is the first part of the process.  After that, once it is clear in your mind, commit 1000% to making that outcome a reality.  Success requires both parts.  It is impossible to attain anything above mediocre any other way.  Shortcuts do not work.  Unless you are 1000% committed to a clear, concise vision, then you are going to encounter difficulty.  Eliminate future setbacks by following the path of success which has stood the test of time.  Certainly if this equation was good enough for Andrew Carnegie, then it is good enough for you.

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Habits: The Basis For Success

Few people ever take the time out to consider the habits they have and the impact on their lives.  Instead, most tend to go through life as a victim of their behaviors, most of which are operating at a subconscious level.  To be in control of one's life, it is imperative that he or she realize what is going on with it and how it is operating.


Almost everything in life is a progression.  Rarely does something happen overnight.  Whatever we focus upon we see this idea  holds up.  Talents, even though inbred in us at birth, need to be cultivated over years.  Olympic athletes, for example, while highly skilled, spend hours daily for years on end honing their craft.  The same is true of professional weightlifters.  Their dedication means that they develop the habit of tending to their craft on a daily basis.

Let me ask you a question.  Do you think there were days when Arnold did not want to go to the gym to lift.  Yet, each day, there he was.  He instilled the habit within himself to workout so that it was not even a thought.  His subconscious idea was to get up and do what was needed.  Is it any wonder he became a multiple Mr Olympia winner?  Now contrast this with your subconscious ideas about working out.  Most people are trained to default to make excuses or find reasons not to follow through.  And this is why they are out of shape and struggling through life.

Life is nothing more than a building upon the days before.  And it is the habits we create which determine the level of success we are going to have.  There are habits which are self destructive and lead to failure like smoking and excessive television watching.  At the same time, there are other habits which assist us on our journey like studying or exercise.  Even the foods we eat are based upon what we are habitually conditioned to do.  One who naturally reaches for a frozen pizza is not going to get the same results as one who trains him or herself to cook up vegetables.


People do not realize how much they sabotage themselves and prevent their own success.  Most prefer to spend time blaming others for the shortcomings in their lives.  This enables that person to play the victim which is becoming an art form these days.  Of course, when one is a victim, he or she is not responsible for what takes place.

Utilizing this approach is death to any self progress.  The problem with blaming everyone else is that it leads to a state of powerlessness.  Giving power to another person (or situation) means that we are incapable of changing it.  Therefore, for something to be different, the other person needs to change.  This is the epitome of powerlessness.  As long as your progress is in the hands of another person, then you are going to lose every time.  It is only after you realize that you need to take the power back that you will be on the path of shape your destiny.

Even those who accept responsibility for the events in their lives fail to understand how habits affect one's results.  Thus, we need to take the next step of engaging in personal analysis so that we can determine who requires alterations.

In this instance we will use smoking as an example.  Cigarettes are known to be bad for our health.  Long term smoking is proven to cause a host of  physical ailments and even shorten one's life.  Yet millions of people engage in it despite the warning against it.  Therefore, we can conclude a person in this situation is sabotaging his or her long term prospects on this planet.

Before advancing with this thinking, we need to consider how smoking is really a habit.  Certainly, there is the physical component of nicotine addiction must be dealt with.  However, any ex-smoker will tell you one of the biggest obstacles to quitting smoking is the psychological and habitual associations that were developed.  For example, many will state the hardest time is right after eating a meal or first thing in the morning.  Nevertheless, have you ever watched someone who smokes when they light up at these times?  Do you really thing they are conscious about what they are doing?  I will assert that in most instances, the person reaches for a cigarette without consciously thinking about it.  In other words, it is a subconscious habit; one that can ultimately kill.

So how does smoking sabotage one?  We already mentioned the obvious when referring to the health implications.  Yet there are others.  To start, have you noticed the price of cigarettes lately?  There are severe financial implications with long term smoking.  People easily spent thousands of dollars a year supporting this habit which could kill them (makes sense doesnt it).  This money, if invested, with the effects of compound interest, could grow into hundreds of thousands of dollars if given enough time.  However, this person will not realize this financial windfall since the money went elsewhere.

Also, many people, these days, are turned off by smokers.  This often means that one's choices when looking for a potential partner are hindered.  While one could try to make the assertion the opposite way that a smoker is actually enhancing the prospects by attracting other smokers, I fail to believe that smokers have the same view of non-smokers that they do of smokers.  Never have I seen a profile where someone stated in the looking for "someone who absolutely smoked. Non-smokers do not even reply".  Therefore, the man or woman of this person's dreams might slip away because of a distaste for smoking (again something that has the potential to kill that person).

To me, this is a prime example of self-sabotage.

Habit Development

The first order of business is to spend some time identifying what habits one has, writing them down, and then determining if they are a help or a hindrance.  Be thorough in all aspects of life.  If you are overweight, look at your eating patterns.  Do you stop at fast food places regularly?  Is food something you use to comfort you emotionally?  How are your exercise patterns?  Do you even have any?  All areas of life are open to scrutiny.

After developing a list, mark off the ones that do not help you and begin to formulate ways to better approach things.  In other words, what habit could you replace this one with which will net different results.  Again, for weight loss, perhaps the habit of making and bringing a nutritious lunch is idea.  Or consciously deciding to park the car as far away from a location so as to increase the number of steps taken throughout the day.  Whatever the decision, begin doing it.

Few people realize how easy it is to change one's life radically over a period of time.  Many skills can be developed in as little as 5 minutes 3 times per day.  If one is adept at breaking things down to their basics, he or she quickly realizes that most skills can be developed by mastering a few simple things.  Making these actions a habit ensures that one benefits from the repetitive nature.  Do not forget, one did not gain the 50 pounds of weight in one shot and it will not be lost in that time period.  Actions need to be taken regularly over a period of time to accomplish the goal of losing weight.

It is crucial to understand how much of our life is actually spent on cruise control.  We become so adept at most activities that we are literally walking through our day asleep.  Thought is not required for many of the things we do.  Again, many of these habits are helpful and make our lives easier since conscious thought is not necessary.  However, for those that are deemed ineffective or a hindrance, it is best to begin removing them AND replacing them with something else (it rarely is any good to just remove a habit; it requires replacement).  This is the basis for all your success in life.  If you can develop the habit of doing the things on a daily basis which lead to success in your life, then it will certainly ensue.  This is a sharp contrast to what most people do which is to habitually sabotage any chance of success.

Start to make the change now.
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Thousands Of Small Steps

There is an old saying, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.

This is something that I really want to focus upon because all success in life is the result of action.  Sadly, when people look to change their lives, they often concentrate their efforts on the large changes such as leaving a bad marriage or switching jobs.  While these are perfectly acceptable steps to follow in many situations, there are other ways to approach things that are equally beneficial.

Breaking Things Down

The truth of the matter is that few actions are "big".  Instead, we find that most big actions are nothing more than a series of much smaller actions strung together.  For example, one does not sit down and write a book.  The process actually involved writing a series of words, perhaps 500 or 1000 at a time, until a book is completed.  Same thing with working out.  An individual does not lose 20 pounds but, rather, goes to the gym.  All results are created through a series of actions.  Remember this concept as it is vitally important.

Another thing that one quickly realizes is the importance of habitual behavior.  Bad results are rarely caused by one horrific event.  Certainly there are instances in life which are surprised and throw people for a loop.  However, much of what we endure was of our own making (if one is honest and takes responsibility).  And, few events, even when of our own making, are overnight occurrences.  Usually, things are the culmination of a series of actions over time.

Let us look at health as an example.  A person does not get lung cancer from lighting up one cigarette.  This disease is the result of years of puffing away at tens of thousands of cigarettes.  The same thing with being overweight.  Someone did not suddenly wake up to find an extra 40 pounds on his or her frame.  Instead, this extra fat was acquired one jelly donut or bag of candy at a time.  The habitual activities of this individual led to poor results.

For this reason, it is imperative that you look at your daily actions to determine if they are beneficial or not.  Obviously, smoking is a habit few will try to defend as healthy.  But how about some of the other things you do on a daily basis?  How is your diet?  Do you drink too much?  Is too much time spend inactive in front of the television?  Are you always late to work by a few minutes?  Questions like these will help you uncover what you do on a regular basis so that you can assess what is helpful.


One of the biggest keys to success is to get started.  As mentioned in the old saying, the single step is the starting point.  It is like that in all phases of life.  No matter what you wish to accomplish, nothing will be achieved until some action is taken.  Planning is important but it is a mental exercise that many can use to actually procrastinate.  There is a time for planning and there is a time for action.  Focusing upon the small steps makes the beginning that much easier.

Many believe that a man traveling through life without a plan is completely lost.  I agree with this assessment to a point.  The flip side of that idea is someone who plans so much that little is actually accomplished.  Personally, I find that one who is willing to start even if he or she does not know 100% the direction traveling in to be much better.  The advantage to this approach, as long as the general idea is known, one who begins has the ability to alter course along the way.  The one who never starts because he or she is too busy planning cannot do this.  Instead, he or she is stuck in the starting blocks.

Therefore, since life is a result business, we need to take some kind of action to have an effect.  This is why it is imperative that you remember action as the key word.  Without it, nothing will get accomplished.

Changing Your Life

I am a big fan of lots of simple steps taken to reach success.  Too often people try to establish a course of action which is impossible to maintain.  We see this each January when people sign up for gym memberships with the intention of working out like a champion athlete.  Sadly, this schedule is just too great for them and by February 1, the desire is passed.  This was a situation where failure was ensured at the start.

To illustrate, I will use the analogy of cleaning out a drawer.  If a drawer is full of stuff, a person has the option of either cleaning it out in one sitting or doing a little each day until the goal is met.  Either approach will achieve success.  However, both require getting started.

Personally, if one can discipline him or herself, I find the second method works better for most things.  The key in this instance is to be disciplined to open the drawer each day.  If this is done, cleaning it out is a snap because one only needs to get rid of one or two things a day.  Do this enough days in a row and the drawer will be cleaned. 

Remember the example of writing the book.  This is the methodology used to complete this work.  A book is not written.  Instead, words put down lead to the formation of a sentence.  Put together enough sentences and a paragraph forms.  After this is done, if more paragraphs are added, then a pages is written.  And, string enough pages together will ultimately lead to a book.

So, if you want to change your life, the best way is to make a list of small steps you can take to alter the direction you are moving in.  Start with a list of 10 actions you can complete today which will make a difference.  Remember, do not look for earth shattering ideas.  Keep it simple.  Once you do that, you can begin to form a larger list.  Work your way up to 100 or even 1,000 if needed.  The more action you take, the more things will change.  It is impossible to take 1,000 small steps without leading somewhere.  Work this mindset into your life.  All the insignificant actions we take do add up.  Therefore, as opposed to allowing your outcome to chance, take the initiative and start altering things on your own.  Try this for 30 days and you will notice a difference.

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Look At The Bigger Picture

It is very easy for us to get caught up in the day-to-day grind that is our lives.  People tend to naturally focus upon the short term which means what is in front of us tends to take on more importance.  However, the most successful people are able to supersede present circumstances and see the bigger picture.

Habit of Reflection

One of the best habits you can get into is the habit of reflecting periodically on your life.  So many go through their lives without ever pausing to ask themselves what is going on.  A basic question such as "why am I doing this" is extremely helpful when evaluating one's progress through life.  Unfortunately, since so few take this step, it is no surprise that many end up at the end of their lives full of regret.

I am the first to admit that daily occurrences can build up.  We all have situations in our lives which demand immediate attention.  Even without entering into the emergency state, the fact is life is a continual pattern of bill paying and Monday mornings.  It is easy to allow one's life to just "slip away" without a concentrated effort to figure out why things are occurring.

Many attempt to make a change come the first of the year.  Since we just past the beginning of the new year, I know there were many who had grand ideas entering 2013.  Nevertheless, with almost a week gone by, many are already falling short in the action department.  While one knew a few changes needed to be made, most are unaware of why they are trying to change things.  In short, they believe the superficial when the reality of life is much deeper.

I will suggest that throughout this year, you spend regular time in reflection.  Ask yourself why you are pursuing something?  For example, why are you going to work each morning?  I understand that this is how you earn an income which allows you to support yourself (and family).  However, what is the end result going to be?  Where are you going to be in 5 or 10 years?  Is this a path that you want to follow for that period of time or is this a temporary stop?  If so, for how long?  Keep asking yourself questions along this line so that you can monitor your progress.

Determining What Is Important

One of the grandest benefits of reflection is to determine what is important in your life.  Believe it or not, most have no clue what is important to them.  This is evidenced by the fact that so many chase what amounts to be superficial things.  Sure, having nice stuff is a thrill and certainly nothing to be frowned upon.  However, it is crucial that things are kept in perspective.  There is an old saying that nobody ever saw a UHaul behind a hertz.  This is true.  We come into this world with nothing and that is how we leave.  So, I ask you, what is really important in life?  This is something that you must figure out.

The bigger picture will assist you in determining this.  Often, people enter the reflection stage when someone close to them dies.  This is natural and a healthy activity to engage upon.  However, how often does this reflection result in anything changing?  I would say very rarely.  Instead, people tend to reflect and then simply follow the same path they were on before.  Of course, this is terrific if one is fulfilled and happy taking that route.  Yet, since we know most are not, this is a sad outcome.

A fantastic exercise is to look back upon one's life as if it was already ended.  Some call this the "deathbed exercise".  The point is to place yourself, mentally, in a position where you are viewing your life as if it is almost over.  When looking at things through this lens, we are able to see where we invested time in things which ultimately are unimportant.  As they say, few reach this point and say "I wish I spent more time at the office".

Therefore, it is vital for you to uncover what is important in your life.  We are allocated only a certain amount of time on this planet.  As anyone who is aged will tell you, it all passes by too quickly.  While we want to think that we have lots of time left, the truth is we never know.  And, even if there are decades before we transition out of this existence, we all know how time seems to speed up the older we get.  Focusing upon the inconsequential will lead to regret later on in life.  It is imperative that you force yourself to step back and sees things from a wider perspective.  

Another benefit is that by taking this approach, we can use it to overcome the short-term snags that life will throw our way.  No matter what the pursuit, it is not without difficulty.  It is at these moments that we need to dig deep within ourselves and most past the obstacle in front of us.  This is assisted greatly if we have reason to propel us.  Seeing the eventual payoff before it happens helps to rise one above the present circumstances and see things from a different perspective.  Oftentimes, this is the genius behind men like Steve Jobs; the ability to see the bigger picture while others are focusing upon the inconsequential. 

Add this "genius" to your life by taking the time to see the bigger picture.  You will find it invaluable.
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A Sense of Urgency

This is one of the traits of the most successful people in the world.  And it is the one thing that seems to be lacking in those who do not attain what they desire.  Therefore, I think it crucial to investigate this matter in greater detail so that we are all clear about the need to implement a sense of urgency in our lives.

Finite Amount of Time

As living creatures, we are only given a finite amount of time on this planet.  There will come a day when we will no longer be here.  Certainly, most of us hope it is a long way down the road, but the truth is we have no idea.  Live does not tell us when the departure date is.  That is why living everyday like it is your last is a good philosophy (coupled with the outlook that you will live forever).

At the same time, opportunities exist for certain periods of time before they are no longer available.  Developing the personal computer, for example, was a way to wealth 20 years ago.  Nevertheless, that ship sailed long ago and now the idea of profiting greatly from these devices is gone.  We see the same thing happen with stocks, real estate, and other investment vehicles.  They do not have an infinite life span waiting for someone to make a decision.  Instead, they are only available to those people who have the ability to act upon them.

Successful people understand that time is limited and opportunities exist only for a short period of time.  Because of this, they approach each situation with a sense of urgency.  Playing the waiting game is not part of their agenda.  Sure, they realize that, at times, it pays to be prudent.  However, once the available information is uncovered, these people act.

Action Based

Life is an action sport.  All success is ultimately based upon the action that is taken.  Those who excel in life understand and live according to this concept.  Most, however, tend to do the exact opposite.  Instead of acting, they procrastinate.  Putting things off is a major cause of failure.  In most instances, the wrong action is better than no action.

Part of success is planning and the successful understand this.  The gathering of information and the proper processing of it is imperative.  Yet, the successful know there is a time to stop planning and start implementing.  This is where they get off the proverbial pot.  Instead of wasting time by trying to enhance the decision, once it is made, action is taken.

A sense of urgency comes from adopting the mindset that one is going to act as quickly as possible.  Time is limited and there is no better time than the present.  So, get on with it.  Action needs to be taken today to move things forward.  Waiting until the time is "right" is senseless since the time is never right.  The only thing one can do is to start taking action and adjust as he or she goes.

Use this mindset when looking at your goals.  Many write down goals only to dream about going after them.  Sadly, nothing ever happens.  Having a sense of urgency means that the time to start is now.  Look at some of the things on your list that were put off and choose one or two to start upon.  There is power in the act of simply getting started.  The flip side is to ponder what life will be like without ever getting started.  If you will not start today, what makes you think that tomorrow will be any different.  The time to take action is now.  Urgency increases motivation which results in more action taken.  Use this to your benefit.

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