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8 Rituals to Crank Up Your Productivity and Happiness

Productivity and rituals

Using Rituals to Crank Up Your Productivity and Happiness

There are some people who are amazingly organized. They calmly complete their daily tasks in order, and at the end of the day they feel a sense of accomplishment and contentment. They relax in the evening with family, friends, and their hobbies and they turn in for a good night’s sleep right on time.

These are people who have rituals.

Whether they are conscious of them or not, that’s what is going on. Rituals don’t mean you live your life like a robot. Rituals mean structure and structure means productivity and peace of mind.

Establishing rituals is fun. My strong suggestion is that you write these out in a spread sheet, on paper, or on a whiteboard to help keep you on track. I do this and it is very helpful. I don’t even look at it all that often anymore, but just having it hanging in my kitchen is enough to keep me on track. Download the Free Excel template: “Weekly Routines & Rituals.”

Here are 8 rituals and routines that you could add to your life with examples to help get your imagination sparked and motivated. You don’t have to use all of these. Some can be combined or maybe you only need to “program” certain parts of your day or week. For any of these rituals feel free to use this free Weekly Routines spread sheet I developed for creating rituals. It has a blank Weekly Routines template sheet and example sheets.


1. Morning Ritual

List out what you want your morning to be like and assign realistic time frames. By having your morning organized into a predictable routine, you’ll be able to make mornings more streamlined, less stressful, and even enjoyable. It might look something like this:

Morning Ritual
By having this written down you’ll be more likely to keep on schedule.

2. Daily Planning Ritual

Choose a time to do this every day. I either do this first thing upon waking when my mind is free of static or when starting my work day. I usually have a better result the earlier I do the planning. Others like to plan their day the night before, either before leaving work or before bed. I do part of my daily planning at bed time with my son. We plan how we’ll spend our time together the next day. The main things to keep in mind when planning your day are:

  • Plan the “big stuff” to be done first.
  • Plan only what you’ll be able to accomplish in one day by using realistic time frames for each task.
  • Build in transition time between activities.
  • Build in times for taking breaks.

3. Weekly Planning Ritual

I do this on Sunday evenings, but you can also do this on Monday mornings. If you choose that route, I suggest going into work 30 minutes early so you can do this with no interruptions. Here is a basic checklist for Weekly Planning.

  • Brainstorm what you want/need to work on this week.
  • Review upcoming appointments
  • Review Lists: project lists, “waiting for” list, “someday” list.
  • Review your Capture notes from the previous week. (These are the things that you’ve written down during the week in your capture notebook to remember to do, research, file, delegate, etc) Assign them to the right “place” such as a project list or your next action list (your immediate to-do list) or to a reference file. See Getting Things Done cheat sheet.

4. Daily Review Ritual

Schedule a time for this at the end of your day, either at the end of work, after dinner, or at bed time. This can easily be combined with your Daily Planning Ritual. Here is a checklist for Daily Review:

  • Review your capture notes from the day and assign to appropriate list.
  • Review what you accomplished today and be glad and grateful.
  • Review and reassign unfinished tasks from today’s daily plan.
  • Check to see if anything left over from today can be delegated or deleted from your unfinished task list.


1. Weekly Routine

This is much like the Morning Ritual. It is a template of things that get done on certain days every week. I use an excel spreadsheet for this and use colors as a way to label categories of activities. For example, my Mon, Wed, Fri days have one routine and T Th days have a different routine. If your days are all the same, then you’d just have your “daily routine.” A great thing to do is to link your weekly activities to your most important current goals. Update this quarterly or as needed. Here is an example:

Weekly Routine
Click here to download this template for free.

2. Work Routine

This is actually one piece of your Weekly Routine, but you may want schedule this out in a little more detail just to be posted by your desk at work. You may not need to have that much work detail on your Weekly Routine sheet. If it is helpful do it, if not, you can skip this one. Here’s what you do: Segment your day into compartments and assign different types of tasks. You might vary this by day or have every day be the same. Here is an example:

Work Routine
Click here to download the free template.

3. Evening Routine

Again this is another sub-segment of the Weekly Routine that you may want to break out into more detail or you may want to keep it as part of the overall Weekly Routine. Here’s what it might look like:

Night Routine
Download this example and the free template.

4. Weekend Routine

I saved the best for last. Having a weekend routine will help you to make the most of your weekend. You might want to put “weekend planning” into your weekly routine on say Tues to plan out what you’ll be doing for the weekend. Your Weekend Routine might look something like this:

Weekend Routine

Download the Weekly Routines and Rituals excel template here for free.

Other Resources

Please Share!

What are your favorite rituals? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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10 Referral Tips for Bagging Big Business

Need to grow your business?

Is marketing taking too much of your time? Want a powerful way to increase business with low resistance?

Check out my guest article today at Dumb Little Man for some tips on how to get referrals and how to ensure that you never forget to ask for one! 10 Referral Tips for Bagging Big Business


Please Share!

What are your best tips for getting referral business? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to vote for this with a Digg, Stumble or Delicious bookmark over at Dumb Little Man. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!



How to Recover from a Fumble at Work

How to Recover from a Fumble at Work


This is a guest post written by Chrissy of The Executive Assistant’s Tool Box.


Let’s be honest: we all make the occasional mistake at work. Some of us, more than others.


I prefer to call them “fumbles” because it just sounds nicer. Some people say things “fell through the cracks” or they “dropped the ball”. Whatever you call it, making a mistake at work is a stressful, frustrating experience. Yes, it happens to all of us from time to time. The important thing to remember is that mistakes can not simply be ignored. They must be dealt with. How you deal with and recover from your mistakes can say lot about your character and your work ethic.



Here are a few pointers for how to handle the inevitable (though hopefully occasional) fumble:


Acknowledge Your Mistake Immediately

Time is of the essence when dealing with a fumble. Once you’ve realized that there is problem, consider who will be impacted by your actions (or lack thereof). What will the result be for them? Approach them immediately with honesty about what has taken place. Be straight forward and concise. Don’t beat around the bush and don’t wait. Often, we get in the habit of thinking no one will notice or we just hold our breath that circumstances will change and the mistake will no longer be important. That might work on the rare occasion. But consider the time it doesn’t work and the problem explodes. Do you want people coming back to you asking why you didn’t notify them of your mistake earlier? Acknowledging your mistake to the appropriate parties allows them the opportunity to:


a) Help in fixing the problem

b) Prepare for damage due to the mistake

c) Prevent further damage from being done


Don’t Give Long Winded Excuses

No one really cares about what caused the mistake. Sure, you and your boss might go over it again in the future in an effort to determine how to prevent it from happening again, but right now, people only care about one thing: dealing with it (i.e. accessing and fixing the damage done while also preventing further damage). Giving a long, drawn out excuse looks like you’re trying to rationalize your fumble. Keep the reason for why it happened short unless it is absolutely necessary.


Don’t Blame Others

While it’s tempting to give a long, detailed explanation of why the mistake happened, it’s even more tempting to slide a few other people into the mix so you don’t look solely responsible. Newsflash: people see right through that. Even if you aren’t the only person responsible for the fumble, step up and take the responsibility. Your team mates will appreciate it and remember your loyalty in the future.


Bring Solutions

Think about how to resolve the situation. Also, consider future problems that could happen as a result of your mistake. Take solutions with you when you address the mistake with co-workers or supervisors.


Apologize….Then Move On

It’s important to say that you’re sorry. No one wants to mess up but it still helps others to hear that you don’t feel good about it. They are then more likely to feel a desire to help out. One word of caution though: don’t over do it. Nothing is more frustrating than someone who continues to apologize over and over again. Say it once, then move on.


Learn From the Experience

Sometimes the only good thing to come out of a mistake is the lesson it teaches you. Believe me, these lessons are engrained in your psyche. It’s such an awful and uncomfortable experience, you won’t soon forget it. More than likely, you’ll be replaying exactly what happened and how a million times in your head. That’s good! It will help you identify the problem and prevent it from happening again. But don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that we’re all human and life is nothing but a series of lessons.


Written by Chrissy of The Executive Assistant’s Tool Box. Check out her site for more information on professional and personal development. Popular posts include How to be a Good Listener and 10 Ways to Build a Better Team.


Please Share!

How do you handle workplace fumbles? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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25 Tips to Become More Productive and Happy at Work

25 Tips to Become More Productive and Happy at Work

Have you gotten into a rut at work? Would you like to be more engaged, satisfied, and fulfilled in your work? Would you like to be more productive and feel a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of each day? Well you can. It just takes a desire and commitment to renew your habits and routines. Follow these tips and you’ll see your work life improve. And that improvement will trickle into the rest of your life too.

  1. Planning. Establish a routine of planning your week and your day. This will allow you to have your most productive week all the time. Start your day an extra 15 minutes early to do this planning everyday. Write down the top 1-3 important things you must do that day. And most importantly, set and reach your Goals! Use the power of intention to get there! (This is what adds jazz to your life! And focusing on your future helps you get through challenging times.)
  2. Power Question. Keep a question like this at your desk to help you stay focused: “Am I making the most of my time right now?” or “Is this the most productive use of my time?”
  3. Accept That You’ll Never Finish Your Task List. For perfectionists and overachievers this is as frustrating as a greyhound forever chasing the mechanical bunny around the track. Get off that track. Just make sure you work on your most important stuff first. Let the fluff slide, not your priorities.
  4. Turn off Your Computer. “What?!” you say. “Everything is done on my computer!” Well is it really? What percentage truly is? Plan to have your computer on only for that amount of time each day. Plan out blocks of time for different computer tasks and work from a checklist to keep you focused. Giving your eyes a rest from the screen will give you more energy for creating. Even if you just close your eyes as you think of a response to an email can help too.
  5. Don’t Check Email First Thing. Unless this is required in your job, then let it go until after you’ve completed your top priority of the day. And then process email in batches, say two or three times a day.
  6. Take Breaks. It’s a fact that taking breaks will increase productivity. It’s been proven in studies. If you need to, find someone to help ensure you take a morning and afternoon break.
  7. Make the Most of Your Commute. How do you spend your commute? Make it positive time. Use it for reading, writing, creative thinking, creative projects, listen to audio books, or, heck, write your own book! If you enjoy your commute, that happiness will spill over into how you feel at work.
  8. Drop Unimportant Tasks. Delegate or delete the non-essential items from your to-do list. The best way to do this is to always do your most important things first. Somehow, miraculously, extraneous things will fall away.
  9. Transitions. Make sure you plan in enough time between activities and appointments, and find ways to fail proof being on time.
  10. Choose Happiness, Humor, Enthusiasm, Gratitude, Kindness, and a Positive Outlook. Being productive and competitive in business doesn’t mean that you have to be serious all the time. Smiling doesn’t mean you’re not working hard. Enthusiasm doesn’t mean you’re not competitive. Being positive doesn’t mean you’re blind to challenges. Choose to enjoy your time at work. Find others who are like this and spread good cheer. It’s contagious and it grows. Try to avoid gossip and negative chat. It can be tempting, but it doesn’t serve anyone well, including yourself.
  11. Cultivate Compassion for Negative Coworkers. People who are negative are that way for a reason. They may have difficulties you don’t know about. Try to be compassionate and non-judging. If you’re a manager, people still need to meet benchmarks, but you don’t have to dislike them if they are not cutting it. When you encounter a negative person, you have the choice to either be affected by the negativity or to be the one who influences the other person. It’s a decision. Choose to stay positive. Instead of saying (in your head or out loud) “Oh, that Suzy-Q! Her negativity always ruins my day,” try thinking “Poor Suzy-Q. She must have some difficulties. I wish her peace. In spite of her negativity I will try to be a positive influence around her.”
  12. Pace Yourself, Especially on Bad Days. Go slow. Don’t be in a hurry. Just take one thing at a time and keep moving forward. If you’re having a really low day, you might even want to take care of yourself by playing hooky ! 🙂
  13. Take Everything in Stride. Deadlines, tough bosses, rude clients, slow computers. Don’t make them into large dramas. Don’t lament the challenges of the world. Simply accept that they are there, and just keep moving forward.
  14. Conflicts with Others. Let your goal be “to make progress.” Don’t get caught up in trying to “be right” or to “win” the argument. That will just slow you down. In your mind ask yourself, “what will move this conflict forward right now?” And then get busy doing that.
  15. Take Your Vacation Time. Try doing something different. If you always go on a trip, try taking a more local vacation, and really get some good rest time. Or if you always stay local, try visiting a new place. Variety is one of the keys to happiness.
  16. Pick Your Battles. Cliche, but true. It’s kind of like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” When you complain or fight on everything, then your power to ask for things is diminished. Save it up for when you really need it.
  17. Share Your Results. This is not about bragging, but about ensuring that you get credit for the hard work you do. Don’t keep quiet thinking that the right people know what you are doing. Speak up and find ways to let the right people know how you are contributing to the success of the company.
  18. Ask for Help. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with others. Don’t wait for your company to tell you what to do. Think creatively about how you can work with others to generate a greater result than if you had each worked on this alone.
  19. Face the Tough Stuff Head On. If there is something difficult that you must do, just bite the bullet and do it. Don’t put it off. Do it first thing in the day. It’s like jumping into a cold pool. Just count to three and do it!
  20. Ask for More Time. If you are asked a question that stumps you or surprises you, never feel like you have to answer it right away. (unless you absolutely must) Seek more time to think about or research your answer. Simple as this, “I’ll have to get back to you with an answer later.” This will save you from giveing an answer you will regret.
  21. Breaking Negative Habits. For one day, observe yourself. Where do you face difficulties? With people? Certain people? Certain circumstances? Take notice and then later on during some quiet time, think about one or two things you would like to work on. Set up some kind of reminder system to fail proof it, such as a simple yellow sticky note next to your computer.
  22. Learn from Criticism. Don’t immediately reject critiques from others, even if you don’t like or respect them. Sometimes people you don’t like may be giving you more honest feedback than you can get from others. Don’t take it personally. Even if it is personal, who cares? Listen, process, and then decide what positive action you might want to take.
  23. Adapt. Adaptation is the number one survival skill of living organisms. Those that don’t adapt, become extinct. In the work world, the same is true for companies, whole groups, and for individuals. Be open to change. Give it a chance. Adapt to new things while using your experience to guide you, and you will have great success.
  24. Learning and Improving. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to learn and improve your skills. Look for good seminars and training. Then ask work if you can attend and will they pay for your admission. If your company pays for education, use it! Borrow books from your local library, the company library, or even from your boss. Borrow some motivational audio tapes from your local library. Keep learning to continually renew your enthusiasm.
  25. Creative Thinking. Is your job boring? If so, take some responsibility in changing that. How can you make it more fun, more creative, more varied, etc.? What can you do that no one has done before? How could you grow enthusiasm at work? What is a new way that you could do old things? What processes could you alter to save time, work and money?

Please Share!

What makes you more productive and happy at work? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to vote for this with a Stumble or Delicious bookmark. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!


Slow Cook Your Business Goals for Success

successful Business Goals

Along the “slow down theme” of this week, I have a guest post over at

The article is for anyone who is frustrated with their rate of progress on their business goals. It can also apply to many other types of goals.
The suggested solution may seem counter-intuitive, but I’ve found it has worked well for me.

Check it out. Think about it for a few days to let it sink in, and then determine if it might work for you. Slow Cook Your Business Goals for Success

Please Share!

What goals are you struggling with right now? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to vote for this with a Digg, Stumble or Delicious bookmark over at Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!


Working Parents Survival Tips – Part 2

Working Parents Survival Tips – Part 2

Part Two of an article I wrote featuring time management tips for working parents, has just been posted at

In Part Two of this two part series, we cover Weekends, Non-Routine Events, and General Tips for saving time and money. If you are a working parent (or know one) that is struggling with balancing work and home time, I think you will these tips unique and useful.

Please check it out today! Don’t forget to share your time management tips for working parents too! Working Parents Survival Tips – Part 2

Please Share!

What are your best working parent time management tips? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to vote for this with a Stumble or Delicious bookmark over at emomsathome. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!



How to Craft a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business

elevator speech

Crafting a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business

My debut guest article over at has just been published!

Have you ever wanted to nail down a great elevator pitch? Maybe you just haven’t gotten around to it or maybe you’re not sure where to start. Either way, look no further than this article for straightforward step by step guidance.

Find out what it’s all about and how it can make a big difference for you in your business success:

Dumb Little Man: How to Craft a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business

Please Share!

What’s your elevator pitch? All comments big and small are very welcomed!


If you found this post valuable, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to vote for this article over at DLM with a Stumble, Digg, or Delicious bookmark. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!


Should You Start Your Own Work at Home Business?

Work at Home: The Dream

Ah, the dream of working for yourself out of your own home! What could be better, right? Well it turns out there are major pros and cons to having your own work at home business. This article will provide the elements of working from home that you should consider before making the leap. I have been working from home as a freelance writer and blogger for 3 years now so I have personal insights that you will hopefully find valuable.

Work at Home: The Reality Pros and Cons

1. Work in your PJ’s.
Pro: This is the ultimate, right? Getting up and doing your work in your PJ’s and slippers. Sounds good and sometimes it is good. Being able to do work anytime in any clothing is convenient.

Con: The reality for many people is that your level of productivity is often influenced by how you are dressed. Yes, you can work in your pajamas, but once you’re doing this for a while, you’ll probably find that you get a little more motivation from getting out and exercising first, showering, and putting on clean clothes before starting work.

2. No Boss.
Pro: It’s true that your boss is not in your home looking over shoulder.

Con: However, we all have a “boss,” someone that we answer to:

  • Bloggers have their audience to please.
  • Freelancers and service providers have their clients to please.
  • Product sellers have their customers to please.
  • Writers have their editors, publishers, and readers to please.
  • Inventors have their end-user to please.
  • We all have ourselves, family, and financial needs that we must live up to.

3. Flexible Schedule.
Pro: This is a major benefit. You can decide when you work. You can take time off whenever you wish. Doctor appointments? No problem. Your child is sick? You’re already home to take care of them. But there is a catch.

Con: You need to make up the time somewhere. The work must get done. You can make it up on nights and weekends, but then balancing work and home can become quite challenging. If you have a family you might run into resentment of the extra time you spend doing work. If you’re single, this is less of a problem in terms of people putting demands on you, but you certainly run the risk of work edging out your personal time. So you need to think about how you will define the line between work and home life. And it’s not as easy as you might think.

4. No More Office Politics.
Pro: You won’t have to schmooze for that promotion. You will make your own promotions. You won’t have to watch Suzy-Q and Dapper-Dan get ahead because they are good at working office relationships. But….

Con: You may watch competitors get ahead for the same reasons. You may lose clients, contracts, readers, deals, etc because you are not working smart enough on the relationship building front. The bottom line is politics is not good or bad. It just is. By definition it exists as part of all human interactions. The only question is how you navigate and leverage it. Politics is human relations. It doesn’t mean you have to bend your morals. But it may mean that you need to work with someone you’re not crazy about in order to bring about a mutually beneficial outcome.

5. No Limits on Income.
Pro: No longer will you have to wait some silly prescribed timeframe in order to be eligible for a raise. The quality of your work will determine your income. By working hard and smart, you’ll have unlimited earnings potential. Really.

Con: It’s not easy. You will need to have a smart business plan. You will need to adjust your plan as you progress, especially when you hit roadblocks and plateaus, which will inevitably happen. You will need to be super organized, focused, and persistent. Income is especially hard in the beginning, so what you gain in upside potential you lose in security of income, retirement plans, health insurance and other benefits.

6. No More Interruptions.
Pro: You won’t have to worry about Chatty Cathy stopping by your cubicle every day, interrupting your productivity. You won’t have to worry about endless non-productive meetings anymore.

Con: But you’re not entirely off the hook. There’s still two potential challenges:

  • First, if you have family or roommates, inevitably there will be interruptions. When you’re using some of your flexibility to work nights or weekends, they’ll be there either getting miffed about you working again or they will be tempting you to slack off. If you have children, forget it, especially if they are young. It’s a real challenge. You need to establish boundaries and you will likely find times when you want to keep working, but you must stick with your promises in order to keep a happy family.
  • Second, if you live alone, then you will face the problem of isolation. With isolation you have no “local” colleague with whom to bounce ideas, ask advice, or consult. You will need to develop these types of relationships elsewhere. No man is an island. You will gain strength from having a virtual “team” of people you can go to for guidance. The other problem with isolation is you must provide your own motivation. Whether we like it or not, we all need to be pushed from time to time. Without interruptions or a boss you must create this for yourself. Yes, interruptions can serve as a motivator at times! And they force breaks on us too which is good for productivity. You’ll want to consider how you’ll ensure that you take breaks.

7. I’ll Work Less Hours. It Will Be Easier.
Pro: Perhaps eventually you will work less and it may be easier down the road. Maybe you’ll become like Tim Ferris and design your life so you only work 4 hours per week. Or it may be that you choose to live on a lower income. In that case you might work less sooner rather than later.

Con: For most of us, starting a business means hard work and long hours! Of course those hours are all for your business so that’s a beautiful thing. But it’s also your time and money at stake too. Work is work and it must get done. The other good thing is that if you are choosing the right business, i.e. something you love, then the work will feel like play. That’s a great thing. But at the end of the day, you will be tired, you will struggle at first and wonder “Did I make the right decision?” You’ll need to stick with it, adapt your plan when necessary, and smile even when you feel like you’re not making any progress.

8. More Creative License.
Pro: You will be in charge. You’ll make the decisions in your business. Your creativity can run free and wild. There are, however, conflicting forces at work that you’ll need to content with.

Con: You must please someone in addition to yourself in order to make money. So you will need to balance your income goals, your desire for creative authority, and the desires of your clients, readers, vendors, users, etc. It may be that your creativity is right in line with what your clients want or it may be that you’ll need to sacrifice your creative freedom a bit in order to meet your income goals. The bottom line is that for most, the client’s needs and desires will highly influence how our creativity manifests in our product, writing, services, inventions and so on. It’s a matter of prioritizing your income goals in balance with your desire for maximum creative license.

9. No Selling Things I Don’t Believe In.
Pro: There will be no more product/service of the month that you’ll be required to sell. Sometimes you like the company you work for, but occasionally you squirm at the thought of selling this quarter’s featured product. Ugh. No more of this! Hurray!

Con: No matter what your business is, you will still need to sell. And boy will this be important to your success or failure. Selling is not hard if you believe in what you are selling. Presumably this will be the case with your own business. If not, then maybe you don’t have the best business idea yet. True “selling” means helping people meet their needs. Focus on meeting clients’ needs and you will sell a lot. But of course there is a lot more to it than that. Stay tuned by subscribing for an upcoming article on How to Be a Great Salesperson.

10. No More Nightmare Clients.
Pro: If a client is beligerant, unreasonable, or otherwise unattractive to deal with, you will have the decision power to say, “Bye, bye!”

Con: At the same time, you will never be free of difficult client circumstances. And in each of these circumstances you will be required to decide how to handle them. Some examples:

  • Freelancers: Your biggest client turns difficult with the addition of a new general manager. What do you do?
  • Writers: Your editor seems to have turned sour on your writing, finding fault all the time. How do you handle this?
  • Bloggers: How will you handle mean comments, blog hecklers, and the like? How will you handle a negative campaign against you?
  • Selling products: There can be shipping problems, returns, complaints, lawsuits and more. You’ll need to deal with all of these.
  • Inventors: If you produce your product, you’ll need to manage relationships with manufacturers, distributors, and marketing companies where you will face issues of trust, control, and quality. If you sell your idea, you will likely face tough negotiations if you want to get the most value for your invention.

How to Meet these Challenges

Two words: Business Planning. (Subscribe for an upcoming Business Planning article) The best way to meet these challenges is to have a business plan. It doesn’t have to be formal if you’re not sharing it with financiers, but you’ll do yourself a favor by having as much detail as is necessary to be ready to take the plunge. See the resources below for links to business planning help, most of which is free!

The Bottom Line

This article is not meant to discourage you from pursuing your dream of starting your own work at home business, but rather to prepare you for the realities, both good and bad, so that you can decide whether you’ll be comfortable with this decision. If you do make the decision you’ll be able to plan how you will handle these challenges. Having a home based business can be wonderful, but it’s not for everyone. The other thing to consider is that if things don’t work out you can always go back to working for someone else.

Further Resources

Here are some helpful business planning resources if you decide to move forward with plans to start your own work at home business.

  • SBA – The Small Business Association has many online resources, services, and tools to help you with your new business.
  • SCORE – check out this resource in your local area. They usually have free business planning seminars. Retired business people provide free guidance and consultation to aspiring entrepreneurs. Don’t pass up this free resource!
  • Free Business Plan Templates
  • Fast4Cast – a free online business planning tool.
  • Govt of Canada Interactive Business Planner – a free online tool that will help you create a 3 year business plan.
  • Links to several Business Planning Freeware
  • Business Plan Pro Business Plan Pro (highly rated by PC Magazine and Inc. Magazine.) There is a cost with this program. I have used it and it is excellent. It makes the process very easy. And it is handy to have it right on your own computer.

Please Share!

Tell us about your business plans! You’ll get a link to your site! All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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Break These Rules for Success!

break some rules

Rules Schmules

Rules have their place in this world. But if they are stopping you from succeeding then you should look for a way around them. I’m not talking about breaking the law, but breaking the rules that say you need to do A,B, and C before you can achieve X. These rules may be good for the masses who are happy with slow progress, and who are looking. But if you want to rise to the top more quickly, see where you can bend or break the rules.

Rules That Are Waiting For You to Break Them

1) Needing a Masters Degree to teach. If you have work experience, this can be better than a masters degree. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t feel like you have to spend a ton of money and time on another degree (unless you want to.) This is especially true for programs from online schools. If you want to start teaching, then start looking for job openings and sell your skills! A masters degree may be required, but rules can always be broken for the right person. Maybe that’s you! If you are short on experience, look for teaching opportunities where teachers are in short supply. Essentially put yourself into an arena where you have an advantage.

2) You need experience to get the job. Bull! I used to hire a lot of people at a financial services firm. There was always an experience requirement. But experience doesn’t always have to be formal or job-specific. The bottom line is, the person’s attitude was by far the most important element in whether I hired someone. I turned down plenty of people with experience who had poor attitude or who had no enthusiasm. Focus on your experience. Be creative in relating it to the job requirements of the job for which you are applying. And be enthusiastic. Go for it!

3) You need to be young, beautiful, and talented to be a movie, rock star. Nope. What you need is drive and persistence. Having one or more of the other things can certainly help, but there are people who have made it on drive alone. You can learn the rest. If you really want it, go for it. You’ll probably want to keep your day job for a while. And you don’t have to be a star to make a living as an entertainer. If it’s your dream, go after it. Don’t let “the rules” keep you from trying. You may not make it big, but you’ll be living out your dream!

4) It takes money to make money. Not necessarily. Having money can help, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll make money. You can start many businesses with a small amount of money. But whether you have big money or small money, you’ll need to implement smart business strategy. If you have a good business plan, you can always use other people’s money. Of course you’ll need to sell your idea well. But it can be done. What business have you been wanting to start? What small steps can you take today to start?

5) You need a degree in English, Journalism, or Writing to be a good writer. I think we all know this is not true, right? Right? OK, maybe not everyone knows this, but now you do. If you’ve dreamed all your life of becoming a writer, it’s never too late to start. Just start talking on paper. The more you write the better you’ll get. Seek out critiques from people who can and will give you honest and knowledgeable feedback.

6) You need a lot of time to write a book. Yes and no. Lot of time, yes. All at once, no. By being disciplined each day, you could have a book written within 6 months to a year. If you are very motivated, you could have a book written in 60 days or less.

7) You need an MBA to be successful in business. This is just not true. There are so many examples of this. You do need to be a life long learner though. You should keep up with the cutting edge of your field. And you must take action on what you learn. Set a course to read a cross section of books in varying fields of business, learn as much as you can from colleagues and competitors and you’ll have the equivalent of an MBA. If you want to get a formal MBA, that’s fine. But just don’t feel like you have to.

8 ) Everyone who loses weight gains it back. Not everyone. A lot do, but that doesn’t have to be you. Don’t let that stop you from trying to lose weight. That’s bad excuse. You can do it! Keep it off for your health and for your loved ones! And do it today. Father time keeps ticking away. The time to do it is now for future health. A great book on losing weight is The Fat Flush Plan by Louise Gittleman. She is a dietitian and her weight loss method stems from a biological perspective.

9) I can’t eat healthy because I don’t like vegetables. That’s rule you need to get rid of! The real problem is you just haven’t had vegetables that are cooked right. Here is a great book on cooking vegetables with creativity so that they taste yummy! by Patricia Wells.

10) You need to make a lot of money to save for retirement. This is not true. You need to save more money than you spend to save for retirement. It’s simple math. Total your income, figure out how much you need to save for retirement, and then cut your expenses as much as possible to leave enough left over for your monthly savings goal. Best bet is to automate it. Have the savings direct deposited into a separate savings account that you don’t touch. What’s left over is what you are allowed to spend.

11) Investing is for rich people with secret knowledge. No. Investing is for everyone who wants to earn a better return on their money than a savings account. Check out my free Guide to Investing and begin to have success of your own. Just start small, build each month, and you’ll be on your way!

12) Only good looking people can find someone to love them. This is not true. Bash this rule from your head. Haven’t you seen ? People love you for what’s on the inside. You don’t want the people who only love the packaging because they won’t be with you for the long run. Love yourself and others will love you. Be the person you would want to hang out with. Plus everyone is good looking in their own way when they smile and when they are good to others.

13) People can’t change and therefore my marriage can never improve. Baaahnt. Not. This may be true for many people who have given up. But if you really want things to improve, they can! The basic steps: envision a better future, identify what YOU need to do, develop and express gratitude for positive aspects of your spouse, and keep repeating over time. Start small. Look for, recognize, and record in a journal the small successes. If you do this they will build. Good luck!

Some Famous Rulebreakers

Bill Gates dropped out of college to start a little company called Microsoft.
John Grisham wrote his first book over the course of many months on his commuter train to and from work.
Blogging Pro Wendy Piersall had a major turnaround in her marriage to an alcoholic. Today her marriage is fantastic.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling had no experience and was an unemployed single mom, when she started writing her first blockbuster book in a coffee shop.
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee lost and kept off over 100 pounds with simple diet and exercise.
Richard Simmons not only lost weight a long time ago and kept it off, but he also helps millions to do the same.

Please Share!

What Rules Will You Break to Reach Your Dreams?

Who are your favorite inspirational Rulebreakers?


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Ultimate Goal Setting Guide + Free Download

Smart Life Goals

Can Someone Please Make Goal Setting Easy for Me?

Think goal setting is hard? Well it’s not. The actual goal setting part is easy and fun. It’s setting aside the time to do it that is difficult. We’d much rather sit on “input mode” in front of the TV or internet because that doesn’t require much thinking.

Well if you are yearning for something better in your life right now, do yourself a favor and use this simple guide and free Life Goals and Values Worksheet to discover your values, establish your goals, and craft your action plan to get there.

Unleash the Power of Goal Setting

Did you know that only 3% of people in the US set goals, and that they are among the wealthiest folks in the nation?! If you want to accomplish something, you can do it! But you must know where you want to go, have a plan to get there, and monitor your progress along the way.

I have created a very easy to use excel spreadsheet template to uncover your values, establish your goals, and craft your action plans for each goal. I will keep this as simple and streamlined as possible. Please download the template before starting.

Personal Values

If you want to set your goals very fast, you can skip this part and go to the “Life Goals” heading below. If you want a compass to guide your goal setting then, read this part.

Values are our inner guides that tell us how to live our lives. They help us make the most of our most valuable resource, time. They keep us from becoming caught up in distractions that steal our time away from what we really want. In short, they help us live our best life possible.

Discover Your Personal Values


  1. Go to the “List of Values” tab in the LifeGoals spreadsheet.
  2. Either print for offline viewing or read it online.
  3. Highlight the ones that resonate with how you want your life to be.
  4. You may add ones to this list or define them more specifically.
  5. Try to get this down to 10-20 values by merging similar ones or eliminating ones that are not as important.
  6. Write out your top 10-20 on yellow sticky notes for prioritizing.
  7. Prioritize these by continually comparing them two at a time until you have them in order.
  8. Type these into the tab “Your Values.”
  9. Place an (x) under each of the categories that those values apply too. See the examples you have questions on how it should look.


Free Life Goals Tracker

Click to Download the Free Life Goals WorkSheet

Life Goals

Here’s the fun stuff. What if I told you you can have just about anything you want? Well you can! The real “secret” of this life is that you can achieve anything to which you set your mind. Here’s the magic formula: you must pick your destination, plot your course, execute your plan consistently over time, and monitor your progress, adjusting as necessary. Most of us are doing a lot of this on the fly and that’s fine. However if you want big changes that are important to you, this process will keep you more focused and more likely to succeed.

Setting Your Life Goals


  1. Go to the “Life Goals Tracker” tab in the LifeGoals spreadsheet. (See example tab for how it might look)
  2. Fill in your goals in the different categories (career, relationships, financial, physical, etc.). Don’t feel like you have to fill them all in at once.
  3. Fill in the SMART criteria for each goal: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound. Each one is explained on the sheet. This can be done either online or printout the sheet.
  4. Go to the “Action Plan Template.”
  5. To fill out on paper, print out as many templates as the number of goals you have.
  6. To fill out online, create as many copies as the number of goals you have. (Go to “Edit”>“Copy or Move Sheet”>click on “create copy”>Click OK)
  7. Fill in the Category and Goal.
  8. Optional: Fill in the Values from “Your Values” tab that align with this goal. If none of your values align, this could be a red flag that either this goal is not right for you, or that you’re missing a value that is important to you.
  9. Fill out an “Action Plan Template” for each goal you have. Include all the steps. Be really specific and detailed. Include Due date if appropriate.
  10. Add action steps into your calendar.
  11. Check off Actions as they are completed.

Tracking Your Progress

This is really important. Just as a pilot needs to continually monitor his location and heading relative to his destination, so must we monitor our progress toward our goals. If you’ve put together a complete action plan then this is easy. There are several ways you can track progress:

  1. Your current calendar. A great one is Google Calendar. Online or offline, schedule your action steps and fill in habits achieved each day.
  2. Online tracker: is a great way to track those goals that involve a daily or recurring actions. Very easy to use.
  3. The “Progress Calendar” Tab in the LifeGoals worksheet. You can use this for success charts which I will cover in another post soon.

Some Success Tips

  1. When setting your goals, allow yourself to dream big.
  2. Don’t worry about past attempts. Today is a new day. The future is yours to shape!
  3. Everyday visualize yourself achieving your goal. Believe! You Can Do It!
  4. When tackling your goals and setting your action plan, take it slow. Apply the Rule of One, which says to start only one goal at a time for the most success. Don’t be in a rush. Slow and steady wins the race.
  5. Get a Goal Buddy or more than one to help spur each other on with your goals.
  6. Make sure that your goals are YOURS, not someone else’s idea of what your goals should be.
  7. Goal setting is the easy part. Doing the action steps and monitoring your progress is where the real work is.
  8. Be persistent and methodical. Slow and steady wins the race!
  9. There is no “Failure” just opportunities to learn and readjust your strategy. See “What’s Getting in Your Way.
  10. You goals may morph over time. Adapt your goal list and action plan accordingly!
  11. If traditional goal setting is not for you then just use this loosely to whatever extent you can.
  12. Celebrate successes along the way even if they are small. Enjoy the journey. (Here are some keys to happiness.)
  13. Remember Action Creates Energy so get started now no matter how you feel and watch your enthusiasm grow!

Additional Resources

Goals On Track – very cool online goal software. “an easy to use, web 2.0 style goal setting, goal tracking, task and time management software that helps you accomplish any goals in life.” It is a pay service, but it’s got a 100% money back guarantee. Hey, if it helps you reach your goals, especially financial ones, it will probably pay for itself many times over.

Quantum Cookbook – If you are interested in adding the power of intention to your goals, this course is awesome. Having a guide that helps you focus your mind on your goals on a daily basis is one of the most powerful things you can do to ensure that you follow through. And it has a 200% money back guarantee. (Basiscally if you don’t find value in the course for any reason they will refund you double what you paid!)

Please Share!

Please share your comments on Goal Setting and Personal Values. All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, please SHARE THIS below with a Stumble or Delicious bookmark. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or visit Amazon through my “Books� page at the top of this page. Thank you!


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