Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Day 47 of 365 Tiny Changes

I’ve been researching and thinking about what makes one person more successful, then another.

When I use the term successful, I’m not just referring to financially, though that certainly is included.  One can choose their success.  One can be a successful parent, athlete, scrapbooker, sales person...you fill in the blank.  It doesn’t matter what one is successful at, just that one is successful.

So I’ve read, and I’ve researched, and I’ve chatted, and I’ve thought about it.  Finally, the answer occurred to me.  Focus.  The majority of the successful people who I’ve researched had this one thing in common. They all knew what they wanted and then went after it, like a dog after a stick. In order to become successful at anything, one has to really focus on it.

Think about it.  To become a good parent, it would be extremely necessary to focus on the child and the child’s needs.  If one is focused on work when the child is in the room, would one be a better worker or a better parent?  At that moment in time, one would be a more successful worker than a parent.   Now, if the focus was shifted to the child and his needs, and  the job responsibilities neglected, at that moment, one would be a better parent than a worker.

Focus.  It is possible to be successful at more that one thing.  We all have many areas and interest in our lives that need and deserve our attention.  Zig Ziglar suggests that we focus on only 4 major areas in our lives at a time.  Any more than that and we are overwhelmed.  Any less and we over focus and risk becoming helicopter parents, or workaholics, or the like.

I spent the last two weeks in total focus on a redecorating project.  I was able to put 160 hours into this project to see it to it’s completion.  A true success.  Unfortunately, I did what Zig warned against.  I hyper focused, and left every other responsibility in my life hanging in the wind.  Now, I have to focus on catching up.  (A word to the wise.  Never leave 2 adult men to fend for themselves for 2 weeks and have any expectations that the house will be clean or there will be any food in the house when you return.  You will be sorely disappointed.)

I had a client who was really good at focusing on a few things at a time.  He was a dentist and he was focused.  Really focused.  When he first sat down with me, he told me that he had goals.  Real goals that he was totally committed to.  Goals that he was totally focused on.

His first goal was to buy out his partner within one year.  His second goal was to double his patient load within that same year.  His third goal was to build the house of his wife’s dreams.  His fourth goal was to continue to build a happy healthy family.

He came to me to help him with goal number 3, building the house.  And build a house he did.  At first he couldn’t afford the house that he wanted.   I told him how much he would need to increase his income to make his dream come true.  He left my office, not upset, as one might expect, but focused on the chore at hand.  Three months later he reappeared.  He had increased his patient load enough in that time to qualify for the home that he wanted to build.

This was not as simple as it sounds.  The man was considered self employed.  At that time, in order to calculate what loan amount for which a self employed borrower was eligible, it was necessary to average his income from the previous 2 years.  In three months time, this man was able to increase his patient base enough to raise his entire 2 year average income to qualify for the home that he wanted. 

Fast forward a year later.  The house is complete, his wife is happy, they has a 2nd child on the way, and he had bought out his partner.  In one year, he had accomplished everything he had set out to do.  I was impressed, to say the least. 

I had the opportunity to chat with his wife and asked her if she would share his secret to success with me.  She told me this.  Every evening, he came home and after dinner and family time, and after the kids were tucked into bed, he sat down at his computer and ran his numbers.  He tracked his successes and his shortfalls.  He then knew exactly what he had to set out to do the next day to stay on track to reach his next goal.  He did this every night.  This dentist is the poster boy for the word Focus.

So how does one choose just what to focus upon.  I agree with Stephen Covey when he states, “ Begin with the end in mind.”

I have a friend, who, in boot camp, decided that he would become the Master Chief of the
U. S. Coast Guard, when he saw the current Master Chief’s picture on a poster.  This is the highest ranking enlisted position in the U. S. military.  He was laughed at, and even punished, for stating such a dream.  Fast forward 30 some years and meet my friend, the now retired,  first African American Master Chief of the U. S. Coast Guard.  He began with the end in mind, and never lost focus on his goal.

I think this is excellent advise for any endeavor we choose in life.

Even when raising a child, I believe, the parent needs to know how they want that child to turn out as an adult. 

Does the parent want the child to become a contributing member to the community?  Well, then it would probably be important to teach them manners, respect, and social skills.  It may also be important to expose them to community oriented groups such as scouts. 

Does the parent want the child to honor nature?  Then exposing them to hiking and arboretums and worms and bugs, and other sorts of natural things may prove beneficial. 

Thinking long term, about how the child will be as an adult, is a more committed focus.  Of course there are still no guarantees, because every child has his own personality and preferences.  However, I think having focused expectations and providing exposure to many positive situations will give the child a better chance to be a success as an adult, versus,  just getting up in the morning and hoping that you can all survive each other until bedtime.  Without an idea of what type of adult you want to raise, you may get what you get, and wonder how they turned out that way, either good or bad.

Same with a job.  One can go to work every day, with no other intention than to clock in, pull the bolt out, put the bolt in, and clock out.  Or one can decide, up front, where they would like to end up with their career, and then make focused choices to get there, like my friend the Master Chief.

I personally, have been saddled with the issue of short term focus.  I find something that interests me and I focus on that for a while, until I find something else that interests me, and then I focus on that for a while...While this has kept my life interesting, I haven’t been focused long enough on most things to become truly successful at them.  This has also lead to a lot of unfinished projects, everywhere!

I will be 51 years old in three weeks.  Perhaps it’s time I decided what end results I really want and truly focused on getting there.  After all, I only have 51 more years to become the success I know I can be.

Tiny Change 47:  Create a Vision Binder of what I want my successes to look like.

If I know what the “end” looks like, it may be easier to stay focused on the activities needed to get there.

What does your “end” look like?  How focused are you on your success?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am truly blessed to have so many interests and the opportunity to explore many more.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Life as a Semester Project

Day 46 of 365 Tiny Changes

Do you remember when you were in school and were given a “project”?  Not  the little project that was to be completed over a weekend, but the really big SEMESTER PROJECT?  I do, I hated them.  The idea, I’m sure, was to break us in for the large projects we were sure to face, as adults, when we reached some great position in the work force.

I would usually start off strong.  Get the idea, and gather the tools of research, usually library books, in the first week.  Then, it would all sit and gather dust for the next 16 weeks.  The weekend before the last week of the semester, I would blow the dust off of my supplies, and my, now way over due, library books and get down to business.  Some how, I would always manage to get it done by the dead line, and get the passing grade I needed.

Looking back, I surmise I should have learned the following from these long term assignments.

Time Management

All of these, true life skills, that would have benefited me immeasurably over the years. 

However, I realize, now, that my take away was a little different than the list above.

First:  Never give myself a long term deadline, if I don’t need it.  Why were we given 18 weeks to do a project that could be accomplished in a week? 

Second:  Given the opportunity, I will procrastinate.  Given 18 weeks to tackle a project I will wait until week 18 to complete it.

Third:  Know my audience.  By knowing what my teacher found interesting I was always able to get a passing grade, usually a B or better,  on a 18 week project that I slammed together in the last week of the term.

These learned behaviors have moved on with me, long after the semester projects were forgotten.

Here’s a thought that struck me this morning.  What if LIFE is just one long semester project?  What if Life is not about the little day to day tasks we face, constantly, but about the big project due at the end?

What if out Life IS all about that one big accomplishment?  The culmination of all of our behaviors, activities, emotions, goals, and failures? 

What if life is about planning, prioritizing, and time management, and not about long term deadlines, procrastination, and taking advantage of others?

If my life project was due at the end of the week, would I get a passing grade, this time?

OK, so more than one thought hit me this morning, but they are all on the same topic.

What is the criteria for a passing grade in life?

Some folks have decided that to get that  passing grade, they need to live by the rules of their religion, what ever that religion is, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim...and any factions there of.

Some folks have decided it’s as simple as leading the best life they are able to live, given their particular circumstances.

Some folks don’t care, and just get up each morning and do their life how ever they decide to do it that day.

Me?  I’m not sure if I am a part of any of these groups, or all of them.

How do I go about accomplishing my life project, while keeping the dirty dishes from piling up in the sink?

I probably should have undertaken those school assignments in the manner that was intended, instead of finding the shortcuts.  I probably wouldn’t be asking myself these questions if I had done so.

Ah well, as the saying goes, hind site is 20/20.

Tiny Change 46:  Determine just what my life project is, and just what I have accomplished, so far.

How has your life project been going?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to have the freedom of thought to choose just what and how I am going to accomplish with my life.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Element

Day 45 of 365 Tiny Changes

I’m back!  I have been cloistered at my parents’ home for the last two weeks, redecorating the bedroom where I spent my pre-teenage and teenage years.

While there, I leaned several things. 

First. I can’t paint over a mural of giant Care Bears, that I painted for my children, 27 years ago, without family upheaval.  Especially, from the two youngest generations, who have no memory of anything else ever being in that room.  Oh, the tragedy of it all.

Second.  I actually began doing interior design work including, planning, choosing colors, fabrics, and wallpaper, right in this room.  I even designed a massive book shelve unit, complete with a drop down desk, and hired a contractor (my Dad) to complete it.  As contractors go, my choice wasn’t the best, because the drop down desk part was never installed.  I based by choice on convenience and price.  So I even made my first hiring mistake, in this room.  I was 15.

Third.  I found my Element.  I put in 160 hours in two weeks, and loved every minute of it.  I barely slept, because I needed to get on to the next part of the design.  I only laid down when my body couldn’t take it any more, but my mind kept right on working through the night.  With the exception of 2 1/2 days, I was alone.  My parent’s had gone to Florida.  I never missed the company.  When I’m in my Element, time, space, and other people, don’t exist.  It is all about the creating.

In this very room I dabbled in my Element, 35 years ago.  In this very room I discovered my true calling, Interior  Design.

I have been doing interior design work off and on, well, since I was 15 years old.  More seriously, though I have been doing it for the last 3 years.  No paying jobs though, all for self and family.

I actually left my paying job a year and a half ago to focus on starting an Interior Design company, but I have been side tracked, and I realize now, by no other reason than my own fear.

I’m afraid I don’t know how to BE and Interior Designer.  I think there must be something more to it, then just the parts I’m familiar with, or else every one would be doing it.

I’m afraid I won’t know how to handle a client properly.  What if what I think of and what they think I think of aren’t the same and they don’t like what I think of?

I’m afraid that no one will hire me.  How do I find the client’s and how do I convince them I know what I’m doing, when maybe I don’t.

On and on and on...my Fear, has a very powerful, and loud, voice.  And it’s always so near by...like right inside my head.

So what was that I wrote a few blogs back about living without fear?  I think it went something like, JUST DO IT!

After spending the last 2 weeks totally submersed in my Element, I am ready to move forward.  (Shut up, Voice of Fear.  I am too, ready!  Really, enough, already.  Jeez!) 

We are purchasing some new photography equipment, lighting and the like.  I am going to use this to take photos of my recent design work and build my portfolio.  (Looks like a trip to Washington, D.C. is in my future.)  That’s probably the best place to start. 

Then there’s the web site, and the LLC, and the insurance, and the Chamber of Commerce, and the list goes on and on...there is a lot to this entrepreneurial stuff.  All of this before I get to delve in to my Element again.  What a busy week this is going to be!

Tiny Change 45:  I am going BE an Interior Designer. 

What would you be doing, if you were doing the thing you were meant to do, the thing that would make you forget about time, space, and other people?  What is your Element?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to be able to choose my career path.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Unhappiness Virus

Day 44 of 365 Tiny Changes

Our home has been invaded by a virus.  A big ugly virus.  No, it’s not a cold or a flu virus.  It’s something much, much worse.  It’s the dreaded, highly contagious, UNHAPPINESS VIRUS. 

Yes, my home is an unhappy home at the moment.  We all have our reason’s for being unhappy.

I’m unhappy because I don’t seem to be making any headway on my massive to do list.

My son is unhappy because he can’t find a full time job, and afford to move out on his own.

My life partner is unhappy because his company is making some changes, I’m not not making any headway on my to do list, and my son can’t seem to find a full time job, and move out on his own.

I’ve seen this virus before.  It’s a really scary virus, because it can hang around for years, infecting and reinfecting the whole household and anyone who comes near it.

So, I could dwell on the causes of the illness, but I would rather initiate the steps to a cure.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  I am using this statement as my jump off point for discovering the cure.  After all, he was the President, so he has to have a somewhat valid point.  Right?

Now, this might seem somewhat simplistic, but I really think getting happy again might just be this simple.  I want to decide to be happy.

OK, I’m happy...Well, not yet.

OK, I’m happy, NOW...Well, not yet.

All right, deep breath, big smile, ready, set, OK, NOW I’M HAPPY! 

Still, not yet.  Pooh!

Well then, perhaps a different approach is in order.  Maybe I do have to examine the issues that are making me unhappy.  Lordy, that could end up being years of looking at the ceiling in a psychiatrists office.

Happiness just can’t be that elusive.  Happiness or at least the pursuit of happiness is a right to those of us who live in the U.S., it’s in our Constitution.  And, unlike the right to bear arms, that is also in the Constitution, I don’t think there have been any court battles or laws that limit the right to pursue happiness.

So I’m gonna pursue it.  Right here, right now.

How about this?  How about I list the things that are making my son unhappy and see if I can find the happiness in them?  It’s always easier to find the silver lining in other peoples problems.

Son problem number one:  He can’t find full time employment.

Silver lining:  He is meeting lots of new people in his search for a job.  People he may have never had the opportunity to meet, if he were already gainfully employed.  In my book meeting new people is always a happy thing.

Silver lining:  He is finding other ways to make some income, such as recycling, and donating plasma.  Both of these activities are helpful to the rest of humankind.  Being able to help others and the environment is  definitely something to be happy about.

Son problem number two:  He is unable to move out on his own.

Silver lining:  He gets to live, rent free, in a home that is much larger than the one he could afford  to rent.

Silver lining:   He always has company, and someone else to talk to.

Silver lining:  He rarely has to cook his own dinner.

Wow, he really has more silver linings than problems.  I’m not saying that he should give up looking for that full time employment, but I am saying that he sure does have a lot of reasons to be happy, while he’s looking.

So now I’ll look at my guy’s problems.

Guy problem number one:  Lot’s of changes being made at work.

Silver lining:  He has a full time job, that pays the bills for his entire family.

Silver lining:  He may find the changes bring more meaning to his job, or that they don’t really affect him at all, so he can keep on being the resident expert at his job.

Guy problem number two:  My son can’t find a full time job and move out on his own.

Silver lining:  My son does all the dishes and most of the laundry, so Guy is not required to help in these areas.

Silver lining:  There is always someone strong available to move heavy things.  (I rearrange things all the time.)

Guy problem number three:  I’m not making quick progress on my to do list.

Silver lining:  It’s MY to do list.  If I wasn’t here it would be his to do list.

Wow, again.  Guy also has a lot more silver linings than problems.

Now me.

Linda’s problem:  Not making headway on my to do list.

Silver lining:  I always know what I’m going to do when I get up in the morning.  I have tasks that I need to complete to continue down the road to my Definite Major Purpose.  The progress may be slow, but each item I can check off my list, gets me that much closer to success.

Wow, a third time.  That is something to be happy about.  I am on my road to fulfilling my Definite Major Purpose. 

That, apparently is the insidiousness of the Unhappiness Virus.  It temporarily blinds us to the real silver linings of our life.  It forces us to look at our situations as being problematic, when in fact they are reasons to be happy.

Hate your job?  Then love the people you work with.

Hate the people you work with?  Then love the paycheck, no matter what it’s size.

In debt?  Get excited about finding your way out of it.  Be an example to your kids, your friends and family of how to live frugally, yet happily.

Not in debt?  Then find a charity to champion and bring relief to others.  Let their smiles infect you with real happiness.

There are so many ways to pursue real happiness, but it starts with me.  Perhaps President Lincoln was correct.  Once I decide I want to be happy I will take off the blinders of unhappiness and look around.  Look, and really see all the blessings I am surrounded by.  Then, I will be grateful for what I have been blessed with, no matter how small.  Finally, the secret to the pursuit of happiness is sharing.  Sharing my smile, my umbrella, my home, my money.  Sharing a part of me is what will lead me to real happiness and cure the Unhappiness Virus in my household, for good.

Tiny Change 44:  I will focus on sharing my happiness, not spreading the Unhappiness Virus.

How will you share your happiness?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to share a home with my life partner and my son.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Day 43 of 365 Tiny Changes

Assumptions.  I have never really examined all of the assumptions I make every day. 

Assumptions do make it easier to function, on so many levels.  For example, I assume that my car will start every time I get in it. This gives me comfort and keeps me from worrying that I may be stranded somewhere.  So far, this assumption is working.  My car is a 2001 model, so at some point I may need to change my assumption, or buy a newer model, so that I can keep my assumption in place.

But what if I have assumptions that aren’t working?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I am all about saving a penny.  Not a dollar, a penny.  Because of this I consider myself a thrifty shopper.  I rarely buy anything that is not discounted, and I love thrift shops.  This doesn’t mean I buy junk.  It does mean, that if I look, there are deals equal to the discounts given on Black Friday, all year long.  I just have to be diligent in my patience and my search for them.

My son swears that he can get better deals than me, any day of the week.  In places I would never think of.  I think he may be right.

He owned a lawn service, for which he was his only employee most of the time.  This meant that he was out working in the heat every day, getting hot and sweaty and dirty.  Really dirty. 

He discovered that if he went to a store, after work, covered in the dirt from the day, he could get better discounts.  Here’s how he did it.

He asked for the discount and then let other peoples assumptions work in his favor.

The first time, it happened in Kroger.  He had worked late, and wanted to pick up something for dinner.  He went to the discount meat section.  It was after the meat department had gone home. 

He had learned that Kroger codes their meat when they discount it.  It is actually discounted 4 times before it is removed from the shelf.  The first time it is just a sale tag added to the original pricing tag.  The 2nd time a bright yellow tag is added and it is coded with an L1.  The 3rd time a new yellow tag is placed over the original yellow tag and it is coded L2.  The 4th time the tag is coded L3.

He also knew that the meat department marks down their meat before 8 AM, every the day.

My son would find a piece of meat in the discount bin.  He would make sure it had some brown on it, where the blood had drained away.  There is nothing wrong with the meat when this happens, it just doesn’t look as good as a nice red piece.  He would take this piece of meat to the service counter at the front of the store.  Remember he would be covered in grass and dirt.  He would tell the service person that there was no one in the meat department, and would then ask if they would be willing to mark down this sad, unpalatable piece of meat, so that he could purchase it.  It worked every time!

He had the same success with the auto repair shop.  When his vehicle broke down, he went to the owner, covered in the dirt from his lawn work and explained that he really needed his vehicle repaired, so that he could earn his income.  In fact, he was desperate to have his vehicle repaired because there were only so many of his customers close enough to walk his lawn equipment to, so that he could fulfill his commitments.

The owner gave him discounts on the labor, and made payment arrangements with him for the two years that my son owned this vehicle.

OK, so he asked and he received.  I have asked, and not received.  My son claims the difference is he “looks” poor.  He “looks” in need of a discount.  I don’t.  I go in dressed in clean, pressed clothes.  My make-up is in place and my hair is just so.  And, I wear earrings.  In other words, I don’t “look” poor.

What an assumption!  Why does one need to look unkept to be poor?  Why if one is groomed well, does one automatically have money?

I thought I had lived through all of the prejudicial assumptions about money.  When I was in my 20’s and new to management, I was discussing, with my boss, the annual raises I wanted to give my staff.  My boss, a female, had the audacity to say that I needed to give the man on my staff a higher raise than I needed to give a woman who was doing a better job and had earned the higher raise.  My boss reasoned that he had a family to take care of, so I needed to take care of him.  While she was married, so she didn’t need the money as much.  What!?

It was the early 80’s, so there were a lot of left over stigmas about women in the work force and not staying home 24/7 with their darling children, so I get where her assumptions were coming from. 

But here we are in 2012 and we are still living with the stigma’s assigned to being poor.  From when, the 1600’s?

This most recent economic downturn, should have proven to us, that there are a lot more poor among us, then those who just don’t groom themselves properly.  Multimillion dollar homes were foreclosed upon, because the owners were suddenly poor after they lost their jobs, and burned through their savings to pay their bills.  They probably still had their nice clothes from when they had money, so I’m sure they still look good every day being poor.  

Since when does being poor mean one has to give up their self esteem and dignity?  What a horrible assumption we make, simply based on the way one grooms themselves.

I’m ashamed that on an emotional level, I too have held this same assumption.  The shame of it is, I know better.  I know that those dirty guys working on the construction sites are probably earning union wage. Some of them are earning $20+ an hour.  My brother is one of them.  He owns 2 houses.

I know the well dressed retail clerk, working at the clothing store, has been told that she is required to wear the clothes her store sells, and must purchase them out of her minimum wage income, just to keep her job.  My sister was one of them.  She and her daughter had to live with my parents, so that she could afford to pay for day care, instead of rent.

The retail clerk sure “looks” more well off then the dirty construction worker.   Well, maybe she’s lucky enough to be married to a construction worker, so we don’t really need to worry about how she’s feeding her kids, do we?

The really sad thing is my assumptions cause me to treat people differently.  I am more willing to hold a conversation with a well dressed stranger, than a dirty, ungroomed stranger.  How about you?

Tiny Change 43:  I will strive to face my unfounded assumptions and treat people fairly.

What unfounded assumptions are you living by?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to have nice clothes to wear.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Outside vs. Inside

Day 42 of 365 Tiny Changes

I woke up with a terrible headache this morning.  It’s in my sinuses.  I feel like my left eye is only open half way, from the swelling; but when I look in the mirror, it looks like it’s all the way open.  I hate that. 

I’m tired, and exhausted.  I think I’m catching the butt kicking cold that my life partner, Guy, has been living with for the past week.  I’ve already cursed him and the virus that came riding in on him, but that doesn’t seemed to have stopped it from jumping on me.  I hate that, too.

So, after having a warm cup of herbal tea and flipping through the TV channels for an hour, I decided that I would get up and take my shower.  (I normally read in the mornings, especially when I’m not feeling well, but I was having trouble focusing my left eye.   I really hate that.)

The shower is the first step to my morning ritual.  After a nice, slow, shower, during which I used up all of the hot water, I slathered on the wonderful smelling and feeling face and body lotion.  Ahhhh...Then, because I wasn’t feeling well, I took the time to blow dry and curl my hair.  Normally, I let it air dry and stick it in a pony tail.  Then, I plucked my eye brows and put on my make-up.  Afterward, I got dressed, including shoes.  I usually leave my shoes off until I’m ready to leave the house, but not this morning.  This morning I needed to feel completely ready for the day and ready for anything.

Why?  Because I don’t feel well.  Somewhere along the line I decided that completing my morning ritual makes me feel better, and ready to face the world.  It doesn’t always work, like today, for example.  I’m all ready for the day, including shoes, and now I just want to lay down and take a nap.  What was that comedian’s saying?  “It’s better to look good than to feel good.”  Today, I’m following his advise.

Why does making myself pretty smelling and pretty looking make me feel better, emotionally if not physically?  I’m sure there’s some deep psychological and sociological answer to that question, but I don’t know, or, at the moment, care, what it is.

I do know that it works.  I would much rather spend the hour each morning making myself look, what in my opinion is presentable to the rest of the world, than skipping it and letting the world see my morning bed hair.  I’m guessing the world at large would prefer this, also.  Don’t argue with me on this one.  I’ve seen my morning bed hair, you haven’t.

I’m willing to bet money that the majority of the people I know feel the same way about their morning rituals.  In fact, I’m willing to bet, more people I know are less willing to give up their morning beauty ritual than are willing to give up their exercise ritual.

What’s that?  What exercise ritual?  See what I’m sayin’?  I put more effort and belief in my feeling better by making my self look good, on the outside, then I do on what is way more important.  Making myself look good on the inside. 

What is looking good on the inside?  Open, cholesterol free arteries, toned muscles, less fat stores, strong heart, well functioning lungs, these are all things that make us pretty on the inside, and all much more important than plucked eyebrows.

If I spent as much time on my exercise ritual as I do on my morning beauty ritual, I would probably not be dealing with this cold, because another advantage to having a pretty inside is a stronger immune system.

As a society we do put way more importance on our exterior looks then our interior looks.  There are books and books on how to get ahead in the work place.  Almost all of them touch on dress.  I’ve read that it is very important to dress for the job you want, not the job you have.  I've never read a book that said it's important to exercise for the job you want, not the job you have.

I once read about a company owner, who, at his annual sales meeting, required each of his sales people to go out and purchase a suit that cost at least $1,000.  In his opinion, the suit made the person better at sales.

The book never mentioned if he, also, required his sales team to work out on a regular basis, or eat healthy, or get the proper amount of sleep, so that they would have a lot more energy and much better attitude with which to make more sales.  He probably didn’t.  Nope, apparently, the $1000 suit is what made the difference, in his opinion.   Maybe, in his sales teams opinion, too.

Well, I’m not going to change society’s opinion on what real beauty is.  Or what makes a person successful.  I’m not even going to change my own.  What I am going to do is at least give my inside beauty the same daily time commitment as I do my outside beauty.

Tiny Change 42:  Add 1/2 hour to exercise ritual

This will put my time commitment to 1 hour a day.  I can now add weight lifting, or yoga, or a longer walk.  The options are endless.  I’m going to start this new routine, tomorrow.  Today? I’m going to go take a nap.

How much time to you spend on keeping your inside as beautiful as your outside?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am grateful for the invention of the cold pill, really grateful.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Business Plans For Your Life

Day 41 of 365 Tiny Changes

It’s the first week of the new year.  I’m not one to start off a new year with any new resolutions, I’ve already committed to making 365 tiny changes, no reason to add on any more.  I think my plate is full enough.

What I do like to do at the first of each year is set up the current year’s business plan for our household.  (Did I really hear you say, “Ugh” ?)

I know, I know, if you aren’t a numbers person, or a planner, this could sound overwhelming, because a good business plan includes both.

You’ve heard of business plans for your company, maybe have even been involved in the creation of them.  The difference in a company business plan and a personal business plan is your commitment to it’s fruition, and the benefits you get when you meet your personal goals.

At work, you are compensated for showing up each day and are probably bonused in some way for meeting certain goals.  You want to see your company succeed so that you can keep showing up each day and possibly get bonused for meeting goals.  After all, it’s your livelihood and your source of the funding you need to live the rest of your life, paying bills, buying things, feeding yourself and your family, but, for the most part you probably aren’t totally responsible for your company’s success or failure.

In your personal life, you are.  Each day you earn a certain amount of income and you spend a certain amount of it.  If there is any left over you either spend it on something else or save it for a rainy day.  This scenario repeats itself every day.  Do you know what the actual numbers are that are related to your daily activities?  Do you know how much you earn, each day, each hour, each minute?  Do you know how much you spend, each day, each hour, each minute?

Do this.  Take your last paycheck of the year, find your total annual gross income number.  Find your total annual hours worked.  Divide the gross income by the gross hours.  That is your hourly rate. 

Then take this number and divide it by 60.  This is the amount you earn each minute you are on the clock.  I always like knowing what I’m  worth minute to minute.  Now you know what a bonus you are giving to your company for every minute you work, off the clock.  Interesting, to say the least, but hang in there with me, because it gets a lot more interesting.

The next step is a little bit more involved, but I promise you will see a benefit in the end.  Add your monthly mortgage payment, including taxes and insurance, your gas, electric, water, and sewage payments together.  This is the total amount it takes to keep a roof over your head.

Now, take this number and divide it by your earnings per minute.  Got it?    This is the number of minutes you have to work to pay for your home. 

Too big of a number to get your head around?   Then divide this number by 60.  This final number is the number of hours it takes you to simply keep a roof over your head.  Surprised?

It actually takes about 30% more hours because the Federal, State, and Local governments all get their piece of your income pie before you do, to the tune of roughly 30-35%, but I wanted to keep the calculation somewhat simple.

In our household, the number equals about 2400 minutes, or about 40 hours.  It takes one full week of income to pay for our home and all of the utilities.  Oh, but we have 2 properties.  It takes another week to pay for the 2nd property that we are in the midst of rehabbing.  (Anybody want to buy a partially gutted house, I know a lot about?)

The other two weeks of income are left to cover everything else.

This past year I tracked every penny we earned and spent.  Doing this allowed me to really see where all of our money was disappearing to.  Based on these numbers, we made adjustments throughout the year. 

We no longer go out to eat nearly as much, and when we do, we’ve make it a game to do it as inexpensively as possible, by uncovering discounts.  Restaurant.com has some really great deals, and we have discovered good restaurants we never even knew existed.  All this goes into making our meals out much more special.

I also coupon.  To be a good couponer, I can’t be brand loyal.  This has opened my pantry to some products that I have never used in the past and  has allowed some more variety to our home cooked meals.

We’ve made a lot of other changes, based on my close scrutinizing of our spending and bills.  It’s amazing how many bills I was paying while not ever looking at any other information but the amount due.  Now, I review each and every bill, from top to bottom.  If I have a question, I pick the phone up, immediately, and make a call.  I am really surprised at how many errors I have found, especially on cell phone bills and doctor bills.

So, back to our household business plan.  This plan also includes other things we would like to accomplish this year, such as completing the rehab of the 2nd property, taking a dive trip to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, building an office in the basement, and starting 2 new businesses.  It's going to be a full year, and one that will not be successful with out a well thought out, well carried out plan.

Tiny Change 41:  Dinner meeting each Tuesday evening, with Guy.

During this dinner meeting we will review the progress we have made during the past week and discuss tasks that need to be completed during the current week to stay on track with our expected time line of completion.

Have you created a business plan for your household?  If not, why not?  Your future is totally in your hands, why not plan for it?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing for the Day:  I am extremely grateful to have a computer and the internet available to me.  My life would be completely different without it.