Category Archives: Take Action

Taking action is critical to successfully achieving your goals.

The Best Way To Stop Procrastination

Procrastination is a universal problem. It exists in all countries and cultures. And it always has. All of us procrastinate, and for some of us (according to experts, about 1 in 5) it is a persistent and disruptive habit.

So, what is the best way to stop procrastination?

What Is Procrastination

How To Stop ProcrastinatingAccording to Napoleon Hill, “Procrastination is the bad habit of putting of until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”

Procrastination is avoiding doing things that need to be done. When we procrastinate, we delay action on an essential task.

The Best Way To Stop Procrastination

I don’t know if it’s “the best” way to stop procrastination, but I have an insight that has helped me dramatically slash my procrastination and increase my productivity.

My secret procrastination-buster is the way I think about time.

Let me explain.

My attitude is that time is my most valuable possession, worth far more than any material thing I own. With it, I have a chance to accomplish great things. Without it, I cannot accomplish anything.

But time is a depleting asset. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

Therefore, there is simply no reason or excuse for wasting this most precious asset.

How we choose to use our time defines our life. If we waste our time, or use it unwisely, we waste our life. At the very least, we slow our progress toward our goals and dreams.

How To Stop ProcrastinationTo achieve our maximum potential, we have to treasure every moment.

Because I value my time so highly, I’ve gotten to the point that when I put off doing the essential things I must do to accomplish my goals, I feel it in my gut. It’s physically painful.

On the other hand, acting promptly on important tasks — even when I don’t want to — means that I accomplish more goals, and accomplish them faster. And that feels great.

Admittedly, I haven’t always felt this way about time.

When I was younger, I held the illusion that I had unlimited time. I felt that if I didn’t get something done today, there was always mañana. As a result, too much was put off, delayed.

When I changed my attitude about time, procrastination disappeared and my accomplishments exploded. Now that I treasure every moment, I get more important things done and achieve far more.

Here’s what I have learned: When we master our time, we master our life.

Adopt this mindset and procrastination will become something you just don’t have time for.

How I Organize My Journal

I have written about the benefits of keeping a journal. Here, in the hope that an example will be helpful, I will show you how I organize my journal.

How I Organize My JournalOf course, one of the best things about journal writing is that you can write anything you want, about any subject you want and in any format you want.

You can write your journal free form, as most do, or you can create a structure for it, as I have. Let me tell you how I do it . . .

I keep an electronic journal, not a handwritten one. Typing is much faster than writing for me. And, unlike my writing, typing produces a readable result. I like being able to easily add photos and links to my electronic journal. And I love the fact it is searchable.

I use a journal template I created, and here it is, with some comments about each section . . .


DATE


TOP 5 VALUES

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

The first thing I see every day is a reminder of what I’m all about, what I’m trying to achieve through my activities.


ANNUAL GOALS

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

At the end of each year, I develop 3 – 5 major business and personal goals for the upcoming year, and they appear near the top of each day’s journal. I want to be reminded every day what I’m trying to accomplish and whether I’m making consistent progress toward my goals.


MONTHLY GOALS

1. Read at least one book and write takeaways
2. Weekly calls to [family and friends]
3. Monthly calls to [friends and business associates]
4.

Monthly goals are partly derived from my annual goals. These are the things I must do in the current month to stay on pace to achieve my annual goals. I set these on the last day of the preceding month.

Some of my monthly goals are the same each month. I have shown several examples, such as staying in touch with family, friends and business associates on a regular basis.


WEEKLY GOALS

1. Call [family, friends, business associates]
2.

Weekly goals, in turn, are derived partly from my monthly goals. These are the things I must do in the current week to stay on pace for achieving my monthly goals. I set these on Sunday.

Some of my weekly goals are the same each week. Examples are keeping in touch with family, friends and business associates.


TODAY’S TO DO LIST

1. Edit yesterday’s journal entry.
2. Make today’s journal entry.
3.

This is my TO TO list for the day. I normally create this list at the end of the preceding business day. If I couldn’t, I create this list in the morning before I do anything else.

Some of my daily goals are the same each day. I have listed obvious examples of reviewing yesterday’s journal and making today’s journal entry.


EXERCISE

Fitness is a priority of mine, so I keep track of my fitness efforts and hold myself accountable every day. I record the details of that day’s workout.


WEIGHT

Here, also, I want to be accountable daily. I want to know each day how much pressure I am putting on the planet.


BLOOD PRESSURE

When my blood pressure started to creep up, I began measuring it every day. That focus has helped me make the necessary changes to bring it back to where I want it.


FOOD CONSUMED

Breakfast –
A.M. Snack –
Lunch –
P.M. Snack –
Dinner –
Late Snack -

Diet and exercise are the core components of health. Therefore, I make a record of my diet so that I will be accountable to myself each day. (Although I have 6 entries for meals, I don’t always eat 6 meals a day. I may eat 3,4,5 or 6, depending on such things as my activities.)


MONEY SPENT

I want to know on a daily basis how I am spending my money. This helps me decide whether my financial priorities are sound and whether I’m making progress toward my financial goals.


TODAY’S ACTIVITIES

This is a description of what I did during the day. It is usually the longest entry in my journal. I include details such as phone numbers that I may need again and order or reference numbers. Sometimes I include thoughts about future activities.


IDEAS & THINGS TO REMEMBER

This is where I record ideas and anything else that is important enough to remember. For example, if I’m researching a consumer purchase, this is where I keep my notes. I also record interesting things I have learned, as well as projects or goals I am contemplating.



That’s how I organize my journal. My journal system may be more complicated than you want, need or have the time for. Or it may not be detailed enough for your needs. It’s just an example. I hope it helps you design your personal journal.

15 Benefits Of Keeping A Journal

Benefits of Journal WritingWhen I decided, a little over a year ago, to finally begin writing a daily journal, I had no idea how many benefits would come my way.

My experience has made me an unabashed proponent of journaling. I strongly recommend it to you.

So, what exactly is a journal and why should you write one?

A journal is a periodic, usually daily, record of information which often includes such things as experiences, thoughts and future plans. However, what you write in your journal is entirely up to you, and journal contents vary from person to person.

Before I explain how I have benefited and how I think you can benefit from keeping a journal, let’s look at reasons why people do not write a journal.

Reasons Why People Do Not Write A Journal

These are some of the most common reasons why people do not keep a journal:

  • “Writing in a diary is for kids.”
  • ”I don’t have anything to write.”
  • “I’m not a good writer.”
  • ”I don’t have the time.”
  • “That’s the last thing I need, another daily obligation.”
  • “I don’t see how it would benefit me.”
  • “It’s sissy to write in a ‘diary’ about my ‘feelings.’”

Do any of those sound like you?

I didn’t start journaling earlier because I subscribed to the no-time and no-benefit schools of thought. In short, I didn’t see any reason why I should bother.

Here’s what I have learned . . .

Journal Writing

Benefits of Writing In A Journal

These are the top 15 benefits I have experienced from writing in my journal every day, any one of which would be enough reason to continue.

1. It helps me remember things.

As I recently told my wife, whatshername, my memory is not as sharp as it once was. So I record information to preserve it.

2. It keeps me organized and focused.

My journal is where I post and keep track of my goals and where I monitor my progress toward achieving those goals.

3. It makes me accountable – to myself.

If I write in my journal that I’m going to do something, it’s like a written promise to myself. I have to prove to myself every day that I can consistently act on my commitments to others and to myself.

4. It’s a way to have a degree of immortality.

As I write my life story — essentially, that’s what a journal is — I am aware that my thoughts and ideas will live after me, instead of dying with me, simply because I recorded them. That’s a pretty cool thought.

5. It helps me be self-reflective.

By that, I mean that it organizes my thinking about myself, the world around me and my role in it.

6. It makes me more thoughtful.

Regular journaling forces me to look for the lessons of daily living. Generally, it makes me think more. And that’s never a bad thing!

7. It improves my writing.

The best way – by far – to learn to write better is to write. I thought I was a decent writer before I started writing in my journal, but I have seen dramatic improvement over the last year which I attribute to consistent journal writing.

8. It is a place where I record my ideas.

We all have them. Those brilliant ideas and insights that we mull for a few moments and then, in most cases, forget. Now, I’m more likely to record these gems for further consideration. (Of course some of these “thought diamonds” turn out to be cubic zirconia, but that’s ok, too.)

9. It’s a great place to work out problems.

Writing about your problems forces you to come to grips with them and leads to solutions.

10. It’s a great place to record my successes.

This is the flip side of working out problems. We all have successes, large and small. Now I write them down and savor them. It feels good.

11. I can measure my development over time.

Even in just one year, I can see great personal growth and development which I attribute to recording my goals and being accountable for taking regular, daily action to achieve them.

12. Writing in my journal is great way to reduce stress.

I feel better when I get it out, whatever “it” may be at that moment. In fact, there is a great deal of scientific research that validates my experience. Writing about problems is a recognized and valuable therapy technique. There is other research which shows that writing a journal improves your physical well-being, too.

13. I can sort out my feelings.

I don’t know if it’s a male thing or my particular personality, but I don’t spend a great deal of time ruminating about my feelings. I’m more focused on taking action and accomplishing things. However, there are times when writing to myself about my feelings, such as after my mother’s death, has been invaluable.

14. I record significant events in my life.

I want to remember things like when my children or other family members achieved various milestones, when loved ones died, when I had major business or personal accomplishments and what I was thinking at the time.

15. It’s a great place to keep track of the things I am grateful for.

A large body of recent research has shown that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships.

Closing Thoughts About Journals

In my next post, I will explain what things I record in my journal and how I structure it. I’m not suggesting that my journaling system is anything more than what works for me, but seeing an example might help you.

In the future, I intend to write about such journaling topics as:

  • Which format should you use for your journal, paper or electronic?
  • Should you review your journal; and, if so, how often?
  • How much time should you spend writing in your journal?
  • What are the best ways to make your journal searchable?
  • What are some common journal topics?

One more thing . . .

The idea of maintaining a daily journal forever is overwhelming. So don’t initially commit to forever. On the other hand, it takes a little time for the habit to be established and the benefits to be clear. My suggestion, therefore, is that you commit to a 30 day trial. Then evaluate and decide whether the benefits are worth the time.

High School Reunion Tips: 8 Dos And Don’ts For Your Next Reunion

So, your high school reunion is coming up. Damn, that 5 years went fast!

High School Reunion Dos And Don'ts(If you think the last 5 years went fast, I’ve got some bad news for you: It only gets worse. Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!)

I know that high school reunions can provoke anxiety, insecurity and maybe even the occasional nightmare.

But go anyway.

And go expecting to have a good time because whether you think you will have a good time or a bad time, you’re right.

Go to renew old friendships, recall your youth, feel young again and celebrate how you and your old friends have changed.

But, here’s the secret for having a good reunion experience: go with a general intent to have fun, but keep your specific expectations low.

To help, I’ve come up with some tips in the form of 8 dos and don’ts for your next high school reunion.

High School Reunion TipsDON’T expect everyone to remember you. In fact, to be safe, don’t expect anyone to remember you. Maybe you’re wearing 40 pounds of camouflage or your face is unrecognizable because you have so much more forehead. It doesn’t matter. As you’ll soon find out, everyone is in the same situation. Sooner or later, we all look like the before picture in a plastic surgery ad.

DON’T expect to remember everyone (for the same reasons). Even if you prepare by going through your high school yearbook, there will still be people you don’t recognize. That’s what name tags are for. And here’s another tip. If anyone that you don’t recognize even glances at you, before they can say anything, rush up to them and introduce yourself. The natural instinct is for the other person to respond by stating their name. Problem solved.

DON’T bore everyone with your resume. When people ask you what you’ve been up to, they really don’t want an answer. It’s just an awkward conversation starter. And, besides, because you found the reunion without getting lost, they already know that you’ve accomplished more than they expected.

DON’T expect the dicks to have changed. Most of us change and grow up. But some dicks don’t. Just avoid them. Oh, if you don’t know who the high school dick was, here’s what you do. Look around the room. If you don’t see a dick, it’s you.

DO talk to anyone who will talk to you (except the dicks, of course). Even if you weren’t friends in high school, you could have a lot in common now and you could leave the reunion with some great “new” friends.

High School Reunion TipsDO allow yourself to be swept away by the music of your high school years . . . unless, of course, you were in high school during the unforgivable disco era. That, you want to forget.

DO be yourself. They accepted you during your Urkel-like years — at least some of them — and they will now. You don’t have to cover up your receding hairline with some ridiculous comb-over. And this applies to the men, too.

DO have fun. Why not? You’re there, you’re dressed up and you can’t get your money back. Reminisce with old friends. Even if you haven’t spoken in years, or even if you weren’t close friends back in the day, you have a lot in common. You shared what was one of the best, or worst, times of your life. If high school was agony for you, your few high school friends made it bearable. If high school was the best time of your life, your friends were probably the reason why it was so good. Either way, be sure to thank them.

Maryland Renaissance Festival

The Maryland Renaissance Festival – or “Ren Fest,” as many call it – is a hoot.

Maryland Renaissance Festival - Costume
Maryland Renaissance Festival - Costume

It’s a delightful way to spend a Saturday or Sunday between the third week of August and the third week of October – especially if you are interested in history, fantasy, costuming and, of course, ale.

Located in Crownsville, near Annapolis, the Maryland Renaissance Festival is set in a 25-acre fictional 16th century English village named “Revel Grove.”

Maryland Renaissance Festival - Stage Act
Maryland Renaissance Festival - Stage Act

The Ren Fest, which opened in 1977, features stage performances located around the grounds along with shops and stalls for finding the perfect Medieval gear such as shields, helmets, ball protectors (don’t ask) and gowns – which is just what you’ve been looking for, I’m sure.

The staff are all dressed in medieval costumes and they say things like “m’lord” and “m’lady” and “that’ll be $17.50.”

Guests are encouraged to wear costumes, too. When we were there this year, probably 15% of the customers were costumed.

Maryland Renaissance Festival - Staff
Maryland Renaissance Festival - Staff

The stage shows are a highlight. Spread over about a dozen venues, there are almost 50 different acts. These are some of the best . . .

There is even a joust!

It turns out that the Maryland Renaissance Festival is one of a series of Renaissance Festivals, or Renaissance Fairs, or Renaissance Faires located around the United States. Some of the most successful Renaissance Fairs, in addition to Maryland’s, are located in . . .

Maryland Renaissance Festival - Joust
Maryland Renaissance Festival - Joust
  • Texas
  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
  • New York
  • Minnesota
  • Maryland Renaissance Festival - Hilby
    Maryland Renaissance Festival - Hilby

  • Michigan
  • Georgia
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Connecticut
  • North Carolina
Maryland Renaissance Festival - Stage
Maryland Renaissance Festival - Stage

Here’s a list of Renaissance Festivals and Fairs in the U.S.

In fact, if you’re really into this stuff, here’s an even more inclusive listing of Renaissance, Medieval & Pirate Faires around the country.

Do yourself a favor and check one out!

My New Daily Routine — Why Didn’t I Think Of This Sooner?

Daily Routine
Daily Routine

I changed my daily routine because my personal, non-business projects – such as writing this blog — were regularly being pushed to the end of the day.  Then, too often, I was beat from a hard business day and the personal projects didn’t get done.

I wasn’t giving my personal projects and goals the priority I should have.

By nature, I’m an early person.  I go to bed fairly early and I get up early.  My mind is clearest in the morning.  I’m not as sharp or vigorous at night.

I decided to rearrange my activities to take these realities into consideration.

My New Daily Routine

Here’s what I came up with . . .

5:30 a.m. —  Get up.

5:30 a.m.to 6:30 a.m.  – Breakfast.  Simultaneously, I’m reading newspapers and magazines on my iPad.

6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. —  Personal, non-business, projects — including this blog.

9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. —  Regular business work.

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Exercise.

1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. —  Lunch.  Usually with my wife.  This is our main meal of the day.

2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. —  Regular business work.

7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. —  Light meal with my wife.

8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. —  Personal and play time.

10:00 p.m. –  Bedtime.

This is the weekday schedule.  Believe it or not, on weekends I usually get up at the same time.  And I put in some time on my special projects in the early morning. I wrote part of this article early on a Saturday morning.

Friday and Saturday nights are date nights.  Sometimes, Sunday night is also a date night.  And, occasionally, so is Tuesday.  Remember, it’s about priorities.

How’s My New Daily Routine Working?

After 6 months, this routine is working very well for me.  I’ll stick with it . . . until I come up with a better plan.

Here are some further thoughts about changing my daily routine . . .

  • Making the changes was easier than I expected.
  • I’m accomplishing far more than ever on my personal projects because I’m working on them regularly and when I am the sharpest.
  • I’m getting more benefit from my exercise because I’m doing it midday when I am physically strongest.
  • By being the Early Bird, I always feel that I am “ahead.”  Before the start of the normal business day, I have several hours of focused work under my belt which gives me a feeling of accomplishment.  By the time I break for exercise and lunch, I have put in almost a full day of work.
  • The long midday break is very relaxing and reinvigorating, and it gives my wife and me more time to spend together.
  • I usually stick to the schedule, but I’m not crazy compulsive about it.  When circumstances require it, I deviate from the routine.  For example, a couple times during the week, I do volunteer work so I have to adjust to make the time.

I’m not saying this schedule would work for you.  This is a schedule that works for me under my circumstances.  And my circumstances are a little unusual.  I am self-employed, I work most of the time in a home office and my children are grown and out of the house.

Please share anything about your daily routine that would help other readers.

Is It Time To Change Your Daily Routine?

Daily Routine
Daily Routine

The flimsiest possible justification for maintaining your daily routine without change, year after year, is that you have always done it that way.

So, about 6 months ago, I started thinking about my daily routine and wondering whether I could tweak it to make it more efficient.

Maybe you should look at your routine, too.  These are the 2 main questions to ask yourself . . .

    1.    Are you doing all the things you should every day?

    2.    Are you doing them at the best time of day?

What Activities Should Be In Your Daily Routine?

Let’s start with the things you do every day.

Sure, most of your schedule is decided for you by work and family commitments.  But you must make time for yourself.

Two critical activities are missing from many daily routines.  One is exercise.  The other is personal time to do important “special projects.”  Special projects can be building a side business online, acquiring a new skill, writing a book or whatever else helps to achieve important goals.  Writing this blog is one of my special projects.

Exercise

Regular exercise is a non-negotiable requirement for a healthy and happy life.  Just do it.  Set it (in your routine) and forget it.

Personal Time

Time to pursue your goals is also essential for a happy life.  The emphasis here is on your goals, not your employer’s goals or someone else’s goals.  These are the objectives that will make you healthier, wealthier and happier when you achieve them.

When Should You Do Each Activity In Your Daily Routine?

Once you have decided which activities to include in your daily routine, you have to decide the order in which you will do them.

In other words, when will you exercise, when will you work on your special projects and when will you do any other activities that are important to you?

The experts disagree on the best time to exercise.  Some swear by a morning workout to rev up your metabolism and clear your head for the day.  Others believe that midday workouts break up the day, de-stress you and prepare you for the afternoon.  Still others are convinced that late afternoon or evening workouts are best because they de-stresses you from the day and help you sleep better.

The answer is that you should exercise when it fits best into your schedule so you will do it. If you’re concerned that you will find reasons not to exercise if you put it off until later, do it first.

If possible, you should work on your special projects when you are sharpest.  Make your projects and goals a priority.

If you are an Early Bird, work on your projects in the early morning, before your other activities.  If you are a Night Owl, schedule personal time later at night.  If you’re super motivated to achieve your goals, work on them both early and late.

Conclusion

Here’s my suggestion.

Take a look at your schedule and decide whether it includes all the right activities and whether you are doing the activities at the best possible times.  This exercise could turn out to be one of the most important things you ever do for yourself.

In my next article, I’ll talk about the changes I made in my daily schedule and how they are working out.

Ya’ Gotta Love County Fairs

County And State Fairs
County And State Fairs

County and state fairs are an American tradition and a great way to have fun.

I cannot find out exactly how many county and state fairs there are in the United States, but it’s obviously hundreds. Click here to see a pretty good list of fairs, divided by state.

Even if I’m right that there are hundreds, and although I’ve only been to a few of them, I’ll bet I can do a pretty good job of describing your closest fair.

Let’s see . . . carnival rides . . . carnival games . . . crafts . . . livestock . . . mucho food . . . demolition derby or tractor pull . . . perhaps a country music concert.

How’d I do?

We just made our annual visit to our local county fair and I thought you might enjoy a few photos. Do they look familiar?

County Fair -- Sheep Judging
County Fair -- Sheep Judging
County Fair -- Carnival Rides
County Fair -- Carnival Rides
County Fair -- Really Bad Food
County Fair -- Really Bad Food
County Fair -- Ferris Wheel
County Fair -- Ferris Wheel
County Fair -- Carnival Ride
County Fair -- Carnival Ride
County Fair -- Cow And New Calf
County Fair -- Cow And New Calf
County Fair -- Farm Equipment
County Fair -- Farm Equipment
County Fair - 3 Little Pigs
County Fair - 3 Little Pigs