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Community Solutions to Work-Life Balance

The Gratitude – Motivation Connection

I am always on the lookout for ideas that will help you sustain your motivation and energy to improve.  Today’s idea is of deep importance and a rare and true quick fix.

Based on some great, recent research by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis and Dr. Michael E. McCullough, University of Miami, enhancing your level of gratefulness can result in you:

  • Exercising more often, which improves health, stress management, productivity, longevity, appearance, etc.
  • Reporting lower stress and fewer physical complaints
  • Feeling better about your life as a whole
  • Being more optimistic, generous and helpful
  • Reducing the material things – happiness connection, which can save you a lot of money
  • Having better, deeper relationships

Being more grateful sounds easy, almost like a throw-away thought, but it is more easily sabotaged than you might think.  Dr. Emmons suggests that you watch out for the “victim mentality” and feelings of entitlement and deservedness.  When you notice these faults in your (or other’s) thinking and actions, do a spin more and refocus on gratefulness.

Dr. Emmons and Dr. McCullough suggest that gratefulness can be improved by keeping a weekly gratitude journal.  Gratitude journaling can help you clarify and develop a valuable reminder of what is important in your life.

This is a great idea worth doing.  However, it is often not realistic for many of you, my busy subscribers.  Perhaps how I practice gratefulness can provide a more user friendly application for you.  When retiring for the night my family and I discuss our “high points” for the day.  We talk about the good things that happened and what made those things possible.  This allows the discussion, and our day’s thoughts, to end on a note of gratitude.

Another helpful idea is to have a predetermined list of gratefulness thoughts to bail you out when your attitude takes a negative turn.  Here are a few:

  • Life is a gift
  • I appreciate the earth
  • I am grateful for the love I receive from my family & friends
  • I am grateful for who I am right now
  • I am grateful for my strengths
  • I am grateful to have a job that serves humankind
  • I am grateful for my health and that is can be improved

What about you?  Do you have any gratefulness affirmations to add to this list?  I’d be grateful if you would share-


Work-Life Balance and Connecting To Something Bigger

Recently, the Wall Street Journal did a great video interview of Jake Burton, the founder of Burton Snowboards.  The interview’s purpose was to give insight into Mr. Burton’s journey from starting his company to becoming an international business success story.

Soon after starting his business, Mr. Burton found himself “broke and really down.”  Now, he is the most successful person in his field and still makes time to snowboard over a 100 days a year.  How did he do it?  Simply, he switched from focusing on himself, “When I started it was very much a get rich quick scheme,” to focusing on something bigger “When I started taking care of the sport, it started taking care of me.”

His story is a great reminder of a Core TruthThe only way to be financially and personally successful in the long run is to focus on giving.  In an overly busy life, it is easy to forget this lesson.  Each and every time I relearn it, it’s a gift.  These moments of clarity have felt so good that they have motivated me to learn how to tap into that feeling more often.

If you can answer this focusing question, then you are well on your way:

As a ______________, my job is to ______________, so _____________ can ____________________.

Every morning, before I open my email client, touch the computer keyboard or even look at my to-do list, I reread my answer.

As a work/life balance expert, my job is to answer the universal question, “why do I not do what I know I should,” so you (the busy person who wants more from life) can improve your professional success, health and happiness.

How about you?  Do you know your answer?  Maybe, but do you use that answer to increase your focus, motivation to do what is important and your ability to say no to the unnecessary stress you face?  I don’t, unless I answer that question every day.

Action Step!
Answer that question and then post your answer somewhere that you will see it every morning.  Answering this question may be harder than you expect, but forge onward.  Once you have it, it will help you every day, plus anytime you feel off-track, frustrated with your day or are wondering, “Why I am doing this in the first place?”

Coming up on my next blog post – How to use this same focusing question to achieve more of your short-term goals.


The Magic Letter– The Best 8 Minutes You Have Ever Spent

If you travel for business, leaving your significant other behind is usually one of the biggest stresses you face. This stress, however, can reach critical mass when travel gets extended, unexpected trips pop up, trips get strung together into one long trip, etc. In my case, it is during the summer convention season.

I discovered the magic letter the day after I returned from just such a scenario. Imagine a very weary traveler lands home hoping for trumpets sounding and a “Yeah! You are home!” embrace. But rather, your welcome is a bit on the frosty side.

Taking care of the home front alone is often tiring and thankless. It is not hard to imagine that they could think “while you were traveling, eating room service and having fun, I am here keeping the ship afloat.” One of my friends and fellow business travelers, Andrew Marks, offers this work-life balance nugget.

“Andy, try this before your next trip.

1. A few days before you leave make a reservation at a favorite restaurant.

2. Write a quick letter to your significant other that reads like this:

‘Dear (insert pet name), I would like to cordially invite you to a dinner at (favorite place) at 7PM on Friday June 1st. I miss you and I am very excited to spend some much needed time with you. I can’t wait to hear about your week.
Love, …’

3. Send the letter three days before you are scheduled to return from the trip.”

After a week of traveling and eating at restaurants, the last thing I want to do is go to another restaurant, but that (and the eight minutes it takes me to make these arrangements) are a small price to pay for a happy homecoming.

Do you have a suggestion that could help the rest of us better manage our travel lives? If so, hit comment and share.


The “How to Make New Year’s Resolutions Stick” Game

This is the best time of year to change your life for the better. Period.

Sure, there are lots of naysayers out there criticizing people for trying to change again. Those people bug me.  Just because you have tried and have fallen short means little.  As a matter of fact, research indicates past failures can sometimes give you a higher probability for success.

I admit that many new year’s resolutions fall short, a very large number do come true. What does it take to increase your odds of success? How can you make the whole process of personal change easier? What pitfalls should you avoid? These are important questions to be answered. But real learning is a two-way process.  This is where you join the game.

Your challenge is to think back to when you set a goal for yourself, then answer the following question:

“On your last attempt to improve yourself, what was the one thing that helped you most?”

For example, here is mine:

  • My goal: From October 2007 to March 2008 I will average two hours every workday on the phone catching up with current clients and connecting with prospective clients.
  • The one thing that kept me on track was: I designated a specific time on my schedule to make calls, 9-11AM every workday.

Side-note: I am following one of my mentors recommendations – “two hours a day of P&P – you are either on the Phone or you Pee, that’s it.” I try to hit this no matter what, and so far so good!

Step 1: Click on the title of this post.
Step 2: At the bottom of the page you can post your comment, or you might see “You must be logged in to post a comment.”  Click this to quickly login or register.
Step 3: Answer the two questions below – that’s it!

My goal:
The one thing that kept me on track was:

You win two ways. First, you can check back to see what your 7,000+ fellow subscribers answered, or you can wait a week and then I will post (on this blog) a complete summary of the top answers, plus ideas I have personally used and know work very well. Plus, the entry I judge best will win a copy of my new book Master Your Body The “no equipment necessary” complete fitness program (Retail price $14.95, shipping included!)
For more info:

Sooner or later you will set and important goal. You might as well play now and get armed with info that can make the whole change process easier and more successful.

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Change Your Day, Not Your Life
A realistic guide to sustained motivation, more productivity, and the art of working well
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About Andy Core
Author and speaker on work-life balance, productivity and wellbeing
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