Like most people, I try to make improvements in my work and personal life continually. I then start thinking “easy to say, easy to do” but add to that “easy not to continue doing”. This last part is a struggle for me. Fortunately I have found an accountability partner. This person frequently asks me how I am doing on these improvements and reminds me what I have set out to do and why. It is amazing what this does for me. If you don’t have someone asking you how you are doing as it pertains to your goals and commitments, try to find someone. Or just tell a bunch of people what your goal is and if you tell enough people about it, they will ask how it’s going…even this will help remind you to stay with it.

don’t forget to challenge yourself

Setting out a goal that pushes you to be a little better than you are, to try a little harder than you have can have unexpected benefits. I am making sure to always have another goal, something set up for a future date that I have to work on to accomplish. Whether it’s physical, financial, spiritual or any other area of life, having them constantly reminds me that I am alive and improving.  Once I hit a goal, I set another, it feels great to both hit the goal (or at least come close) and to then set another. This cycle of setting and working towards achieving and then seeing some results is a good way to always keep improving. Without these goals, periods of time can go by that are very unproductive. Before you know it you may look back at a year or more and wonder what you did. Keep setting and keep challenging.

Invest in yourself

I recently went to a 3 day conference in Scottsdale, AZ with my brother. It was put on by Dean Graziosi. I usually attend 2 or three of these types of conferences a year. I have been doing this for several years now. I look at these getaways as an investment in me. It’s pretty interesting how this process works for me. I usually plan for the event 2-3 months in advance, purchase the ticket, airfare, hotel if needed and then I don’t think about it too much until the time is near. Then without exception, I wonder if I did the right thing. Should I have spent the money? Should I have taken the time off work or away from my family? Maybe I should cancel? But I never do, I go and then am floored by what I learn and the renewed drive I have when it’s over. This drive lasts me for several months.

When in doubt, do it, invest in yourself, you won’t regret it, I know I never do.

Trial and Error, write it down

I use to live by the trial and error method. Not sure if I recommend this but it had served me pretty well over the years. A bit painful at times but ultimately things would work out.

But now I prefer to learn by example, of others mistakes that they learned from in the past. This is mostly done by reading or listening to people talk about what they have gone through and listen to the lessons that they learned. It is amazing what is available to us by simply buying a book. Or getting one from the library. There are biography’s out there by people who are no longer with us, but their lessons learned are still being taught.  This newer practice of mine is so valuable,  I almost feel like I am cheating the system a bit when I look at the price I pay for this information.

I think that we could all write a book that would help others. We should at least write something for our own kids, or friends.

I don’t remember getting a lot of “sit-down and listen” type of advice from my parents. Sure they were great and lived in a way as to show us how to live, rather than tell us. They continue to live this way even now. But what did they learn from their parents? Or their friends? I am not sure. I bet they told me many things, so I must have forgot. Maybe I can get them to write some of these things down? Since they are way ahead of me on the road of life, I can still learn many things from them. I will send them a binder, full of paper and a couple of pens…maybe a few starter questions to get them going. Crazy idea, but wow would that be valuable. I will seriously consider this in the next few weeks.

As for me, I talked myself into keeping a journal. I will start today.

My first entry will read:

“Today I decided that I will keep a journal so I can pass along some of the things I have learned in my life.”  Maybe one of these lessons will help someone in their life.



Measuring progress

I want to add meditation to my daily routine as I have read so many positive things about it. I have tried several times over the last 2 years but it has never really worked for me. I seem to be able to get a routine going for a few weeks but then lose interest. This time, though “it will be different, I know it!”  This is what I tell myself. So once again I will give it a shot. I truly do believe that it has many benefits, but they must be subtle and I just haven’t noticed. I have seen this with other things, such as running. I had tried several times over the years to start running. I would set up a 3-4 day a week schedule, buy the shoes and heart rate monitor and then give it a shot. I would get to the point where I could run a mile or so…without walking! Pretty good for me, but then I wouldn’t see any progress for months..or at least I didn’t think there was any progress?? You see, I ended up getting a free app from Strava that could record my runs that showed me there was improvement. I would run the same route most of the time and the app would give me the times,compare it to other runs and I could see the improvement. So simple, duh, I should have done this before! I would see very small incremental improvements on this app., that I wasn’t able to feel.  This gave me hope, I was improving, slowly but it didn’t matter, as long as I was going the right direction, I was motivated to keep going. I still run 1-3 days per week and maintain my ability to do 3-5 miles without too much trouble.
So now back to meditation, how can I measure it so I know there are some results? Or at least know I am having some slight improvements? So that will be my challenge, to look for a way to measure my results. In the meantime I am starting a meditation routine again so I can at least be in the habit of meditating. My hope is two-fold:
1. That I can create a habit by continually taking 5-10 minutes a day to silently meditate.
2. That I can find or create a way to measure my results.
I am making a post out of this as I think it may help me continue even when I get discouraged or frustrated. Look for posts in the coming months telling you about the success I am having and the way I found to measure my progress.

Money for food

I was exiting the freeway a few weeks ago and a homeless man was holding a sign that read “I need money for food and travel”. I felt generous and a bit uncomfortable as I was stopped at a light with him staring right at me. So I waived him over. I then realized I had a pocket full of 20’s, but no one’s or five’s, oops, oh well I already committed, so I folded up a 20 and handed it to him. I asked him his name, “Richie” he said. My name is Rich and my son is Richie, so that was interesting I thought. He said thanks and I asked where he was going. He said back to Florida. Then I wished him luck and took off. Then as I pulled off, I heard a really loud yell “THANK YOU!!” I guess he saw it was a 20….not a lot of money but probably more than his usual 2 or 3 dollar take.
I felt so good it is hard to say who really was the recipient of the good deed, him or I. I think I was, although that was not my intention.
Hopefully Richie will end up safely in Florida and just maybe, by me asking him his name and giving him a little money helped him as much as it helped me that day.

When I am down and not feeling happy, I now try to change my focus from me to someone else. I have found that when my focus is helping others, I always end up helping myself.

Simple Gesture

This is a re-post from last year, but I thought it was worth repeating:
Why hello matters
On average,1 person every 9 days jumps from the Golden Gate Bridge to end their life. Several years ago, a person was on their way to do just this. He walked from his apartment to the bridge and jumped to his demise. When the police found a note in his apartment, it said something to the effect of ‘I am walking to the bridge to jump off,as no one cares about me. If anyone says hi or asks how I am, I won’t jump, because I’ll know that someone cares about me”.
Even though this way of thinking may not make sense to most,that is how he felt. Such a simple gesture of saying hello or asking someone how they are doing, just may mean everything to them…give it a just never what effect you will have on someone’s day, or even on their life.

The 2 tracks

My days go by so quick that before I know it another month has gone by. I think this happens for a lot of people and more so the older you get. I wake up early Monday morning and off I go, before I know it here comes Friday. Saturday and Sunday seem to be a blur. This keeps up day after day, week after week, before I know it, years are passing, and quickly. I can’t believe how old I have gotten in such a short span of time…
What I described above is my one track in life. The track of everyday life, the job, the family, the hobbies, the visiting, the food, the play, the fun the friendship’s, all make up what is part of my main track in life. This is great and exciting but time will just pass quickly, kids get older, parents get older and before I know it, I am much older. And what have I really done? I know many things mentioned on track one are important and worthwhile but is that all there is to life?
No, I have a 2nd track, track 2. This track needs to keep going at the same time, like two trains can ride at the same time and parallel on 2 tracks, my life runs on two tracks. This second track is where I make time for myself, my goals, my aspirations. My place to really figure out if my main track is on course. I find it so important to have this second track going, without it, we just go with the flow and figure out things as we go, haphazardly running into situations out of our control.
Having the second track allows me time for myself, time to meditate, time to focus on exercise, time to set goals, time to try things and build things that I can then add to my main track in life.
An example would be self improvement. Self improvement takes time and needs to be continually worked on at the same time that track one is wheeling through life and everyday flying by without too much thought. Investment in track 2 items is always worthwhile in the long term but if I am not careful these investments can get put on hold for way too long and be forgotten about if I’m not careful. To help explain the concept, I look at training someone at work as an example. It takes time to train someone to learn a skill or handle a part of my job. I will have to slow down my productivity in order to train this person, but in the long run it will be time well spent. In a few months I will have someone who can handle the job like I did and free up my time for more important tasks. But doing this training is time consuming and tough to do. This is a track 2 item. Keep track one going but always have track 2 chugging along, in this example, keep training people to help you. This will pay off in the long run but maintaining it will be an extra challenge for a while.
Keep track 2 always moving, exercise can be a track two item, it isn’t urgent to do everyday but unless it is going on track two along with all the regular day to day things, you will never find time for it. Once this track two item get’s to be second nature it will make it to track one and become part of the normal day to day. But then add other items. Learn something new, challenge yourself, learn a language, start helping others, always add things to track two. In baseball this is your bullpen, the place to warm up and have a backup ready to go.
Lastly I look at track two as a place to ponder track one. Is track one on the right course? What if I did this instead? What if I read some books in a certain area to view things a bit different? Will this help me decide and change track one? Taking time to ponder and really think out the direction your life (track one) is heading is crucial.
So I will add more to track two and continually keep things moving ahead on that track, even if it is slow, it is important to keep it moving and full of challenges, lessons, improvements and possibilities.

In 5 years

Every once in a while I find it helpful to ask myself “where do I want to be in 5 years?”
By asking this, it makes me reassess where I am at and where I am heading.
What got me thinking about this recently? It happened when I viewed a video of myself doing some product demo’s at work from exactly 5 years ago. I was doing the same thing I am doing now. In this case, it wasn’t so bad since I like what I am doing. But at the same time I decided to ask my self that question again.
So, where do I want to be in 5 years?
Well, I will be thinking about that question over the next week or so. Seems like as I get older it becomes an even more important question to answer.
I have found that writing it out and then telling some of my closest friends my new goals is always helpful.
So why 5 years and not 1? Most people look at 1 year, set goals and then try to reach them, often forgetting a few by the new year. I think that looking out 5 years helps you make sure that the 1 year goals are taking you in the right direction.
The other thing watching the video of myself from 5 years ago triggered was this reflective question:”did I reach the goals I had set out for myself 5 years ago?”
In some areas I have and other I have not. But overall I am pretty happy with the results. I break up my goals into various areas of my life, including:
Health, family and relationships, work, self improvement, spiritual, contribution and legacy. In a couple of areas I have exceeded my goals, of course in others, they need work.
I think the most important part of asking a questions like this is to try not to have any regrets when you are old.

Do something now

I have to take small steps towards change and improvement. How small? It doesn’t matter. I found that for me even a few minutes a day, done each day can make a big difference.
No big plan, no buying anything, no going somewhere, just something simple. Several years ago I wanted to add weight lifting to my daily routine. So I thought,man, I have to buy weights, and a bench and everything else that goes with it. Maybe a machine…then I thought, no, I’m going to start doing push ups each day. My goal was to do my age, so I was about 40 or so at the time, so I worked until I could do 40. I also added sit up crunches, same thing get up to my age in those. I set the time at 10 minutes each day and then worked until I could hit those numbers easily.
Fast forward a bunch of years, I can do way more than my age in both of those, I also added the dumb bells and the machine and the pull up bar,but only as I progressed and made sure I would use them. I go way more than 10 minutes because I love the feeling of doing this. I have learned to love it.
So I start simple with everything I do, then add to it.
But bottom line is start something now, before you know it, you ‘ll be good at it. And don’t over plan and plan yourself right out of it before you start.