Some of the best lessons in life are taught through stories. A man today scared the living daylights out of me. I was in my driveway in my car looking at my phone. I looked up and saw a man on our front porch steps staring at me. He saw me startle and showed me his cards as a tree trimmer. I reluctantly rolled my window down partially because I felt like I recognized him. The second sentence out of his mouth was an exact replica of the first sentence.
“I live and grew up here in this city.” I guess that was supposed to make me feel better about talking to a stranger. I guess he really wanted me to feel better because he said it twice.
“Your trees need trimming.” I then told him we recently did them.
“But, they trimmed your avocado tree all wrong. You probably trimmed your trees last summer, but that’s the wrong time to do avocado trees.”
When he could hear I didn’t want to trim trees I had recently trimmed, he said, “OK, but if people tell you they can do it cheaper at certain times of the year, it’s a lie. It costs the same amount to trim the trees regardless of the time of year.”
He pushed his card through my partially lowered window, and the exchange was done.
Well, the actual communication was done, but my fantasy self created a whole different conversation after he left.
My fantasy self yelled back at the man:
“Your first mistake was thinking you could lie to me and get away with it. YOU were the man who trimmed my trees last time. I recognized you right when I saw you (after almost having a heart attack). I found out back at the tree trimming that you do not live in my town. You told me back then that times were a bit slow. You could trim the trees cheaper now because of the slow time of year. You would give me a lower price. You knew exactly how to take a few steps to help the avocado tree, and it was fine to trim it then.”
While I liked the job he did last time, he just shot down any opportunity to work with us again.
The Learning Club lesson for the day is never lie. Never lie to get work. Never lie to impress someone. Never lie. Never lie to anyone, but especially to a former auditor. While you might not think auditing is very exciting, an auditor gets very skilled at smelling the lie. I almost feel sorry for someone who lies to me. Almost!
Happy Money Monday. Do you know how much you spend on food for the month? If you would like to work with me on organizing your finances, the first thing I’d like you to do is to estimate how much you spend on food each month. Include everything – eating out, groceries, and especially cash you take from the ATM that you use on food. Take that estimate, and put it aside for a moment. Then, take your last month’s bank statement, credit card statement(s), and any other statements where you spend money. Add up all of the expenditures that are food related, and compare your actual figure with your estimate. Don’t forget ATM withdrawals. (I include my ATM withdrawals in the food category because almost all of my cash use is for food. If I use cash for other purposes, I make sure to reclass that out to the proper category.) How close was your actual spending to your estimate?
The reason I choose food to first analyze is because that is one category that is most in your control, it is often a source of huge money problems, and it is the easiest problem to solve. Are you eating out a lot more than you realized, or are the dining out times much more money than you realized once you add them up for the month?
So many of us think we should keep track of our finances, but we often don’t know why or how tracking our finances will help. Food spending can also point to other problems. Dining out in general usually means much greater food portions than we would eat at home, and a little preparation of handy grab-and-go healthy snacks means less impulsive fast food decisions. Do you find yourself buying lots of groceries and then having to throw out lots of unused food? Maybe our fantasy self who thinks we will cook elaborate meals and our real self should meet and come to some negotiation terms. Try buying foods at the grocery store that you really like, that are on the healthier side, and that make you HAPPY! If you have foods that are easier for you to prepare, that are healthy, and that make you excited to eat, you are less likely to eat out. Another tip is to take what you like about dining out and try to re-create those elements at home. Dining out forces you to talk together while eating (especially if you have a rule of no phones). How about you play a game at the dinner table or have a group of fun questions to ask while eating at home? It is funny how addressing one issue – spending less money on food – can solve other problems too.
Given that I am a huge Patriots fan, I can’t help but correlate my work on ONE HOUR with the Super Bowl win. Normally, there is only ONE HOUR of play for Super Bowls. Thanks though to the Patriots and their determination, the Super Bowl was extended beyond ONE HOUR for the first time. But, each team recognized that it is never over until it’s over and that every minute of the ONE HOUR matters. That is exactly the same respect we should have for time and our goals.
Once I saw a card that showed a confused woman with all kinds of new exercise clothes. She couldn’t figure out why they weren’t working because after all, she bought the exercise clothes! That’s kind of how we treat our goals. (That is definitely how I treat my housecleaning.) We buy all of the tools, and we magically expect the work to get done. We set the goal, but why isn’t it happening?
The key ingredient is that we need to take the TIME to work on our goals. Despite specific goals, the daily goal is to be happy, right? We have to dance a delicate balancing act between what makes us happy in the short-term and long-term. Eating that donut definitely makes me happy in the short-term, but long-term…
Baby steps forward are still steps forward. That’s why I want everyone to travel to OH. Yes, OH is Ohio, but it’s also my acronym for ONE HOUR. Take ONE HOUR dedicated to your long-term happiness. We have to match time to our goals. In order to ensure my success with my goals, I also need to have fun while doing my goals. I have to find the joy in my goal. So, I like to dedicate ONE HOUR to being happy. Ideally, there should be a HAPPY HOUR every day for ourselves, but start out with dedicating ONE HAPPY HOUR each week. What do you do where time just disappears for you? Alcohol stole the term Happy Hour, but an hour dedicated to our happiness doesn’t have to involve drinking at all. I’d like everyone to have a Happy Hour doing what really makes them long-term happy. For me, that usually involves something with crafts, but make it your own hour. Picture your future self, and determine if you’ll look back on today happy with how you spent today’s happy hour. Now, like the Patriots, go make every minute count. Happy Happy Hour. Tell me how you spent your hour being happy!
Hello, fellow learners. Along with my business word of the year (PREPAY in case you didn’t see an earlier post), the number for 2017 is 1, One, Uno, Un. Many people see multi-tasking as a talent (me included until recently). However, in reality multi-tasking really means not focusing on one thing. Even though we have become quite skilled at doing multiple things at the same time, is that giving each task our best? This year, I am going to focus on ways for us to give 100% (well, ok, maybe 96%) of our time to the person with us or to the task at hand. I’m sure you know people who talk to you at a party and make you feel like you are the only one in the room. (I’m sure you know others who look beyond you at parties too, but let’s focus on the positive.) Make room for the important tasks and people in your life by dedicating your most precious gift – your time exclusively and without distractions.
This year is a focus on how we can give our gifts of time in the best ways. Combining time with 2017’s number of ONE, try to dedicate ONE HOUR of alone time to what makes you very happy. Let’s say you are at home for one hour, and you are not allowed to do any work. How could you spend that hour alone doing something you crave to do. Where does time disappear for you? Where do you get lost in what you are doing, and you can’t believe how time flew by? We’ll work up to one hour each day, but for now dedicate one hour per week to your happiness. For me, sewing and crafting are the tickets, but have fun with your hour.
OH – One Hour. Go. Have fun.
I’d love it if you could share what your happy hour looks like.
While we celebrate a day off of work tomorrow in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., his actual birthday is today. Every American should not only read the “I Have a Dream” speech, but it is equally important to watch him give the speech. Martin Luther King called many trusted advisers to help with the speech, but they were working right up to the day before the speech. Therefore, the speech is not memorized, and you can see him looking at his notes often. But, just watch. Sometime toward the end of the speech, he all of a sudden starts talking differently, with a new fire and passion. He is no longer looking at his notes but speaking from his soul. That is because Mahalia Jackson, a singer and activist for civil rights too, yelled out to her friend just 6 words. “Martin, tell them about the dream!” Those 6 words transformed an amazing speech to arguably one of the best speeches of all times. It was a simple act but one that changed the world. What simple act can you do to inspire someone to be their best?
I like to have a word of the year for focus. Last year, my personal word was LIGHTER. As you may have guessed from earlier posts, I am a huge fan of acronyms. (An acronym is the first letter of a series of words to form another word.) The first letters of the word lighter are LIG, which for me stood for LET IT GO! Whenever I was finding myself worrying in 2016, I randomly would break out into the Frozen song. Just kidding, though let’s just say it is good I work solo from my home office a lot. I believe that a word for the year helps to keep you focused, determined, and on track.
The award for 2017’s business word of the year goes to…
PRE-PAID. Prepagado in Spanish or Prepaye in French (with some accents on the 2 e’s, but I don’t know how to add accent marks).
Let me give you my thinking on how this great word became the word of the year. First, I consider most debt to be payments on the past. Please email me if you’d like clarification on “most” debt. When you use your credit card, you are delaying the payment of your current expenses for your future, and I believe we should all work towards a terrific future. Pay NOW for what you use now, and only buy what you can afford NOW. If you focus on those 2 principles, your money management will be much easier, and your future will be much brighter.
Let’s now take that one step closer with our 2017 word. What if I told you the next vacation you go on will be entirely paid for, and you can merely relax and enjoy yourself during the whole vacation? No, you don’t have to enter a game show in order for that to happen. What you can do is take a portion of your monthly income, and set it aside for your future. We all should already be doing this for our retirement, and I want you to continue to save for retirement. But, the idea of planning that far into your future can be… well, boring. We can’t really see or feel an immediate benefit of planning that far down the road. We sometimes (most times?) have to do some boring tasks, but I want you to be engaged and passionate about the best use of your money. To get you to focus on making your future the very best it can be, prepaying for as much as you can will guarantee a better future.
One of my heroes, Les Brown, says that money doesn’t bring happiness, but I’d sure like to see so for myself. A prepaid future doesn’t guarantee happiness, but it does bring a sense of security, discipline, and ease of mind.
I am going to have many posts about how to PREPAY, but I wanted to introduce you to my business word for 2017. You’ll see in my posts how prepay has to do with money but also with our time. Please start thinking about how you can make your future better today. I’d love to hear your thoughts or plans on how you are going to prepay your future. If you’d also like to know my personal word for 2017, please email me at email@example.com. Happy Word Wednesday!
If you want to know someone well, find out how they spend their time and their money. I am just putting the finishing touches on some Excel schedules that help you track your time and money. You might be surprised to see how in sync or out of sync your values are with what you are doing in life.
I am hooked on podcasts lately. I spend an unbelievable amount of time in my car these days. As a hockey mom in Southern California, I travel all over the Los Angeles and Orange Counties for either my kids’ school or hockey. Since I have teenagers who don’t get much sleep, there isn’t a lot of quality time in the car. They are either asleep or on their devices. Therefore, to make sure I am still growing and matching my values with my time, I’ve turned my car into a school. My number one priority is paying attention to the road, but I’ve also been able to learn a few things along the roads. I can listen to a Spanish lesson or the latest accounting podcast (seriously, they are more fun than you’d imagine). I’ve resigned myself that I need to be in the car at this time of my life, and so why not make the best of it?
How can you take your current situation and see it as an opportunity to learn? Spend a few minutes today to see if your time and money are matching your values and if you could use some of either resource a little more cleverly. Enjoy the road of life. Happy travels! Stay tuned for the soon-to-be-released tools to track time and money.
OK, I know in advance how weird this next sentence sounds, but it is Truthful Thursday, and so I’m telling the truth at my own expense. Sometimes I imagine myself sitting on a hill explaining life to a martian. If I can’t make that explanation make sense to the martian, it’s too complicated, and a change has to be made. I imagined myself on the hill this morning, and nothing needs to be changed.
If a martian asks me what it’s really like to be an American, I can say that there are many Americans who don’t follow baseball, have never been to Chicago or even Illinois, and yet are full of happiness right now for other people’s joy. We cheered and routed but couldn’t exactly explain why. It is a bond of happiness that we feel when someone else reaches the top of the mountain. There’s a reason baseball is as American as apple pie because we celebrate others’ success. It’s winning in the game of life. Thank you, Chicago, for taking us along your journey and for inviting us to your table of celebration.
When you can feel happy merely because someone else reached their goal, God is smiling. God bless America!
To be good to our bodies, we are supposed to have 3 square meals a day. The same is true for our minds. We need to feed our minds with good food. If you are a frequent reader of my posts, you know about my love for acronyms. T.I.M.E. is my acronym for Three Intellectual Meals Everyday. Just as we make time to eat 3 times a day, our minds need the nourishment of 3 good “meals” a day. If you want to think positive thoughts, you have to feed your mind with positive stories. One inventory method in accounting is called FIFO or First In, First Out. When talking about what we eat, many say GIGO or Garbage In, Garbage Out. For our minds, we should think of GFIGFO or Good Food In, Great Food Out. If we are only feeding our minds with gossip, pettiness, and lies, then we are only going to be focused on the negative in life. But, if we learn to only see what is good in people and feed our minds with good food, we live in an entirely different world, a world of goodness. Whatever you focus on is what is alive in your world. Our eyes become trained on what we are focused. Our roads are paved with our thoughts. The better our thoughts are, the smoother our travels are. So for this Timely Travel Tuesday, let’s work on our path.
I have always loved super heroes. I used to think of myself as a “super” safe parent because I held my boys’ hand every time we were near a driveway, crossing a street, and in a parking lot. I judged other parents who didn’t do the same. I was always holding their hand and squeezed harder when they struggled to get free. Then, one Halloween, my whole life changed. When one child’s trick or treat bag completely fell over and was being cleaned up, the other son dressed as Batman decided to cross a crowded street on his own to see what kind of candy the busy house had. He was entirely in black and crossed in the middle of a crowded street with very little lighting.
In an instant, I realized that I may have been a super safe parent in the moments we were crossing parking lots, but I wasn’t giving my children the inner tools they needed to always be safe. I will not be at every intersection of their lives, and my role now and always as their parent is to give them the tools to protect themselves.
So, on this Halloween and every one since that one years ago, I thank God that He held my little Batman’s hand that frightful night in crossing the street. It took this super hero lesson for me to learn how to be a better parent. The Learning Club urges you to see your experiences as signs to learning a new life lesson. They are in your life for a reason, and it all happens for you to be a better person. Look all around, and learn your lessons, friends. Learn the lessons.