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The Key to Creating More Joy in Your Work

“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~Sarah Bernhardt                        Ten years ago, when I first moved to China, I came as an English teacher at a university. I hadn’t the faintest clue as to how I would teach and I only had one year of experience as a teaching assistant in graduate school. At the beginning, I was completely out of my element. In fact, I woke up the following morning after arrival in my new apartment only to realize that I had no food, couldn’t say anything in Chinese, and had no idea where to get something to eat. For me, everything was uncharted territory, especially my new career. After settling in, I tried to do a good job of teaching, and I truly did care for my students. However, having hundreds of different students and seeing each group for less than an hour per week, I did not see how I could make much difference. Because of this, I lost my motivation and never really gave it my all. I could find no reason to excel at what I was doing because I couldn’t see how I could have any impact. I became apathetic about what could have been a wonderful occupation. I dreaded waking up in the morning and dragging myself to class. When making a lesson plan, I would just throw something together that I thought might be sufficient. In class, I just wanted to get it over with and move on with my day. I rarely stuck around to converse with my students and I often complained about my work. I did what was necessary just to get by. I gave very little of myself and got very little in return. My profession became a job to trudge through. You Get What You Give Years later I began to work on improving myself. Naturally, this included my own job and I began to search for a way to transform my work into something better, something more meaningful. And I found the answer. Fast-forward a few years, and everything changed. When preparing classes, I would construct course plans with meticulous care and would repeatedly practice how best to deliver them. I would wake up each morning at 5:00am to make sure that I was physically and mentally wide awake and ready to give it my all, every single day. Before each class, I would talk to myself and whip myself up into a state of excitement, determined to make every class a masterpiece. I started to feel genuinely excited on my way to class and felt great joy upon entering the classroom. I would stay afterward and speak with students, who were always full of questions for me. Increasingly, I was able to see through the eyes of the learner. And, by being able to put myself in their shoes, I knew what needed to be done and how to execute it. [...]

2018-11-27T18:08:54+00:00 By |

Are You at Peak Financial Fitness?

Physical fitness and financial fitness are inextricably linked, says financial advisor Pamela Gilmour. Ignore your health or your wealth, and it can catch up to you. The parallels are striking. When people live an unhealthy life in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the risk of disease and debilitating conditions grows. By the time people reach their 50s, medical care often becomes an expensive necessity. Likewise, those who ignore their finances — keeping credit cards maxed out and living paycheck to paycheck — live with high levels of unhealthy stress. When they reach their 50s and start thinking about retirement, a new reality sets in: They may arrive at retirement without enough to live on. Pamela Gilmour, CEO of Financial Fitness in Towson, Maryland, has been providing financial planning for over 25 years. A golfer, runner and certified Yoga instructor, she defines financial fitness as having the financial means to live the life you want without undue stress. How do you know if you’re financially fit? She says the following warning signs suggest you may need to give your finances the same attention you give to your workouts.  ARE YOU HAVING TROUBLE SLEEPING? “Waking up in the middle of the night is an alert from your subconscious,” Pamela says. You may successfully rationalize an unhealthy financial situation during the day, only to have deep-seated nightmarish anxieties. In fact, in a 2017 survey, 65 percent of Americans reported losing sleep over financial concerns.1 ARE YOU STUCK IN A VICIOUS CREDIT CARD CYCLE? Pamela sees many young adults who fall for the lure of interest-free credit cards as a way to reduce debt. “They have a balance of $10,000 on one card, so they flip it to a new interest-free card with the idea they will pay off that amount without incurring more interest. Instead, they run up more debt on the first card, so they’re in even worse shape.” By the time people reach their 30s, Pamela says they should be paying off their credit cards fully each month. ARE YOU ENGAGING IN EMOTIONAL SPENDING? Just as emotional eating can derail a health-conscious diet, coping with feelings of anxiety, boredom or unhappiness by buying things you can’t afford can seriously damage your finances. One client, after listening to Pamela talk about financial planning, said, “That sounds great, but it won’t work for me — I’m an over-spender.” Pamela replied, “Is that like having an incurable disease? If you keep saying you’re an over-spender, you’re going to be an over-spender.” Working hard to change your habits — to become an under-spender — can help build financial fitness, she says. ARE YOU PASSING-UP GOOD OPPORTUNITIES? An inability to say “yes” to opportunities like sending your child to a top-notch university or buying a beach house with friends — even though you’re making good money — is a warning sign. If you feel you should be able to afford something but can’t, you need to explore why. Taking a tactical approach to personal finances could be [...]

2019-05-31T17:10:52+00:00 By |

7 Ways to Make Your Workday Awesome

“When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” ~Wayne Dyer   I wish my first real boss had read the book Fish. It’s the story of Mary Jan Ramirez, a young widow who took a job managing the least productive and most negative department of First Guarantee Financial, in Seattle, Washington. In fact, the department was referred to as the “toxic waste dump” of the company. One day she had an epiphany as she observed workers in “Pike Place Fish Market,”—people who had smelly, nasty jobs of cleaning, wrapping, cooking, and serving fish to an overflow crowd. This team was having a great time and were the reason for the overflow crowd. She found the owner and began a several-month relationship during which she learned how to make the workplace both fun and productive. My first real job was when I was a student at USC, studying computer science and game/app design and minoring in media communications. I took a part-time job with a small local consulting firm that handled digital marketing campaigns for small businesses—maintaining their blogs and their social media platforms, user testing designs and specific strategies, and so forth. The owner of the firm was a sour man. He assigned tasks and deadlines to all of us, discouraged collaboration, and seemed only to come out of his office to “bark” at someone. While the creativity portion of the work was personally rewarding, the office itself was a bleak, stark den of unhappy people. Fortunately, he was gone quite a bit, meeting with prospects and managing current ones (I don’t know how he made any sales—perhaps he had a split-personality), and we were like those bad children who came out to play when he left. I was determined to make my workday more pleasant, and hopefully the days of my co-workers, so I began to add things to the environment. The result? We began to have some fun at work and, despite, the disapproving looks of Mr. Sour Man, he could not argue with success. Everyone was more productive. If you are in such a situation, I urge you to take a look at the suggestions below. They really do work. 7 Strategies to Help You Transform Your Workday You may actually like your work, and you may already feel that you are plenty productive; on the other hand, you may not really like your work that much and are the first one out the door when you workday is over. You can change that, however, by adding these seven easy elements. 1. Bring just a bit of fun to your workplace. In the morning, while you have you coffee, get online and find a great joke. Type it up, make copies, get in early, and put it on everyone’s desk—anonymously. If that’s not possible, post it on the inside doors of the restroom stalls or on the mirrors; post it in the lounge and by [...]

2018-11-27T17:17:08+00:00 By |

4 Things You Need to Know When Pursuing An Ambitious Dream

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” ~Christopher Reeve Have you ever decided to pursue something that excited you, that seemed really hard to do, and then had your will tested and almost crushed? I have, many times, most recently this year. As you may recall, I shared a blog post in January about the newly formed Tiny Buddha Productions, a film company I started with my fiancé, fellow screenwriter Ehren Prudhel. If you haven’t read that post yet, you may want to read that now. Go ahead—it’s here. I’ll wait. Welcome back! A lot has happened in the six months since we decided to make a short film about loneliness and connection. We’ve faced delays, and drama, and disappointment. We’ve questioned ourselves, our idea, and our potential. And we even considered scrapping the whole thing when it all seemed far harder, and success far less likely, than we once imagined it would be. But we’ve pushed forward, in spite of the fears and the discomfort. We’ve waded through the guck of insecurity and uncertainty. And here we are, about to start filming our first short film tomorrow. As I sit here with a goofy perma-grin on my face, I’d like to share a little of what I’ve learned over the past six months. If you’re pursuing a dream, and feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, self-doubting, and scared, perhaps some of my lessons will help. 1. There’s no shame in being green. I knew going into this there was a ton I didn’t know. Although I’d studied acting and writing in college, I didn’t study screenwriting, and I had no experience producing a film or working on a set. In addition to what I didn’t know, there was a lot I didn’t know I didn’t know—stuff about permits, and insurance, and securing locations. Every part of this has been a learning process for me, and that can feel incredibly vulnerable. It’s easy to feel insecure and embarrassed when you’re working with experienced people and you feel a little ignorant. But when I took my ego out of the equation and stopped worrying about what other people might think of me, I realized how fun it is to be at the beginning of a journey. It reminds me of when I was in college, and I felt excited about everything—being on campus in Boston, meeting new people, learning from them, getting to share my work, and imagining possibilities for the future. Would I feel more confident if I were an expert? Sure. But there’s nothing like the enthusiasm you feel when you’re just starting out. Some day I will be an expert, and I can only hope I’ll maintain this electric passion I feel right now. If you too are at the beginning, remember: This feeling won’t last forever, so soak up the best and don’t worry about the worst. No one loses respect [...]

2018-11-27T16:20:30+00:00 By |

LIFE CYCLE PLANNING

Financial planning means something different to everyone. For some, it's about getting by on their paycheck, for others it's about watching the stock market each day. Unfortunately, very few of us feel prepared to meet our ongoing financial obligations and objectives. Worries about money have become one of the greatest anxieties of our day. Because our lives and goals are so different, there is no turn-key solution for managing ones finances and meeting financial goals. We can, however, identify several steps successful people take in planning for and meeting their financial goals. We call these steps "Life Cycle Planning" because each step can be tied to the attainment of certain life defining events that almost everyone goes through. DEVELOPMENT OF HUMAN CAPITAL Human Capital is a person's ability to turn their skills and abilities into a livelihood. The development of these skills and abilities helps us maximize our income potential in a competitive marketplace. In our early years, usually between age 19 and 25, we set ourselves on a course that largely defines our Human Capital potential. Each of us makes an investment in Human Capital, whether we realize it or not. For some this is an investment of time, gaining experience and skills on the job. For others it is an investment in trade school or college. It should also be noted that although our greatest focus on Human Capital development is in our early years, this is an investment we should continue to make and assess throughout our working careers. MANAGEMENT OF EXPENSES, BUDGETING Once our "Human Capital" investment begins to pay dividends in the way of earnings, we must begin to develop and apply management skills to our newfound earnings. Without managing our expenses, our wants and needs will invariably outpace our ability to earn. By implementing some form of budgeting, we can begin to set our sights on saving and meeting our longer term financial objectives. A beginning budget can be as simple as setting aside a predetermined percentage of our earnings each month for saving, spending what is left until it is gone, then spending nothing more until next month. ADEQUATE LIQUIDITY As our budget begins to pay off in a healthy savings account, we begin to wonder how best to apply our limited savings to our unlimited needs and wants. Without exception, the first financial need we should meet is to have an emergency fund. An emergency fund allows us to cover unexpected short term needs using cash instead of leveraging our future earnings through costly loans. As a general rule of thumb, your emergency fund should be adequate to maintain your standard of living for three to six months. ADEQUATE INSURANCE PROTECTION A major disability, the loss of a family breadwinner, a fire in your home, a major medical problem for a family member... the most dramatic emergencies can seldom be planned for through personal saving. Although such tragedies can create devastating individual financial hardship, the financial risk [...]

2019-04-12T19:47:12+00:00 By |

Strategies for Paying Down Student Loans

College was fun. But now the bill has come due. American students have over $1 trillion in student debts. The debt burden college graduates have is a substantial obstacle to personal financial progress, but you likely already know that. There are strategies you may want to consider in lightening the weight. LOOK INTO PUBLIC SERVICE LOAN FORGIVENESS For people working in government, non-profit and other public service jobs, certain federal loans may be forgiven after 10 years of qualifying payments. Many individuals are not even aware that they qualify for the program. VOLUNTEER There are a number of programs, e.g., AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and Military service, whereby such service will accrue a benefit that reduces an outstanding loan balance in an amount that varies with each program INCOME-BASED REPAYMENT PLAN Your payments on eligible federal loans can be capped at a percentage of your income, if you have a partial financial hardship, which is defined as monthly repayment amounts in excess of the level calculated under a 10-year standard repayment plan. If you make such payments and meet other requirements, any remaining balance will be forgiven after 25 years of qualifying repayment. PRE-PAY PRINCIPAL Pre-payment of principal will help lower the lifetime interest costs of a loan. Of course, the challenge for many young workers is that they may not have the cash flow to make pre-payments. Consider ways to raise cash specifically for such pre-payments. Do you still receive birthday and holiday presents? Ask for cash instead. Did you receive a raise, bonus or overtime pay? Direct unexpected cash flow to pre-payments. Student debt can be overwhelming. It may seem, at times, like you’ll never get past it. Don’t despair. Remember, time is in your favor. As you gain work experience, the economy improves and Baby Boomers retire, opportunities for economic advancement will emerge and help you move ahead.   Jerry Maldonado Jerry specializes in retirement, insurance and tax off-set strategies for professionals and small business owners. His focus is to help clients identify their definitions of legacy and financial security while simultaneously implementing innovative strategies to help make those financial goals a reality. For more information on his services, he can be reached at: JGM Consulting LLC [email protected] (951)858-0798 Lic#0H33733 www.jgmconsultingllc.com

2019-03-01T15:48:28+00:00 By |

5 Hidden Blessings in Failure

“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” ~ Dalai Lama   Recently I received some “bad” news; after years of studying and a nerve-wracking exams’ procedure, I didn’t make it to the list of the lucky few selected for the upper level public administration job posts. Having always tried to keep up with a job that made good use of my law degree, while at the same time pursuing my career as a writer, there were times when I questioned whether a law-related job was actually my true calling. At the time, trying for the public administration exams had seemed like a “best of both worlds” scenario. So, having finally made the difficult decision to take a leap of faith and change my career path, the outcome was certainly not what I had hoped for. Thus, I was faced with two options: either shrivel up in a corner by the heater, bawling my eyes out for one more shattered dream, or finally establish these new neural pathways I’ve been striving to build this past year of awakening and see the situation for what it really was. The expected, rather self-pitying reaction was looking at me with tearful puppy eyes, begging me to indulge in it. But this time I chose the new way. After the initial disappointment, I took a deep breath and tried to focus on the truth of things—that I had done my best for this job opening, and the outcome I was about to fret over was out of my control. I recognized then that I could not change what had happened and I had to accept it. Not surrender, but accept. As I’ve navigated my recent setback, I’ve pinpointed five ways failure can actually be beneficial. 1. You come to terms with what you can control and what you cannot. In short, you get to have a first-class, one-on-one encounter with your ego. Because it is your ego, not your true self, that demands to control every single outcome of every single plan and effort you make. According to Jungian psychology, the ego is made of our own beliefs and ideas about ourselves, whether true or false. That’s why the ego’s very existence depends upon keeping these beliefs intact; it cannot allow them to come crumbling down. For example, you might think of yourself as the best at your job; so when you end up fretting for days over a mistake you might have made at work, this is your ego trying to control something that is out of its power. In my recent exams’ case, I too could have barricaded myself behind my belief that I normally perform well at academics, and allowed my ego to keep nagging me about my not attaining my goal—but this time I chose perspective, not ego. Preparing for a job interview or exam? You can minimize your potential errors by studying thoroughly and keeping yourself in good [...]

2018-11-19T15:21:46+00:00 By |

Learn, Earn and Retire at Any Age

Millennials are do-it-alls and have-it-alls — in a good way. Research shows they far outpace other generations in focusing on these life priorities:1 Traveling Having a rewarding career Being recognized for accomplishments Enriching their intellectual horizons Looking great In other words, millennials expect to have fulfilling jobs that earn them kudos, but to never rest on their laurels and to always keep learning. Plus, they intend to travel the world while looking fabulous. (Sleep, apparently, is not a priority.) Kidding aside, millennials are rewriting the “life stage” playbook. Rather than compartmentalizing their journey into pre-, mid- and post-career periods, they are blending learning, earning and enjoying life in a continuum. What can the rest of us learn from millennials’ desire to embrace all of life in the moment? FEED YOUR BRAIN We know that learning ties to financial empowerment. College graduates earn approximately $1 million more over their lifetimes than high school graduates — and the gap increases with more education.2 But did you know that being a lifelong learner, as millennials so far tend to be, can also help reduce stress, delay cognitive decline and increase lifespan?3 Take educational tours, listen to TED talks, master a hobby, monitor online courses, read more. Enriching your brain will expand your horizons at any age. WORK TO LIVE Many millennials are opting for “portfolio careers,” amassing skills and experiences to build their value in the employment market or to start their own businesses. It’s a good model to follow. (And here are some ways to build your own career stock, while we’re at it.) The other takeaway is that many millennials say they don’t plan to retire. That philosophy squares with the research:  being engaged with meaningful work as we age is linked to better emotional and physical health.4 When tailoring your own retirement plan, consider ways you can continue to contribute your skills to others. CHILL AND FULFILL The most financially and emotionally confident Americans balance work-life responsibilities.5 Millennials take it even further. They’re not waiting for retirement to live their best lives. Harnessing digital technology, they’re blending the professional and personal in a holistic way to gain greater flexibility over how, where and when they work and play. This sense of control helps them avoid burnout even in demanding roles and drives high fulfillment, with 74 percent of millennials reporting they are satisfied with their lives. No matter where we are on life’s journey, the moment that matters most is right now, and maybe there is an opportunity to learn from the millennial mindset to add greater satisfaction, control and fulfillment to your life.   Jerry Maldonado Jerry specializes in retirement, insurance and tax off-set strategies for professionals and small business owners.  His focus is to help clients identify their definitions of legacy and financial security while simultaneously implementing innovative strategies to help make those financial goals a reality. For more information on his services, he can be reached at [email protected] JGM Consulting LLC [email protected] (951)858-0798 Lic#0H33733

2019-03-01T15:53:45+00:00 By |

My Life Is Boring

“Hold up your cup here is some positive tea that I want to pour out for you”.   Are you bored? Or more specifically, is your life boring? Do you feel stuck in your life? Is it hard for you to actually have fun? Don’t worry because I know how you feel. It seems we do the same things every day. So, for most of us, life is busy. However, we’re certain that there are times when we’re stuck at home, bored. We’ve all been there, when all our work is finished, or maybe everyone’s away and you’re home alone and bored. Today, let’s do something new and different. I would like to share with you 10 things to do when life gets bored.   Go on a walk/run. Challenge yourself to leave your cell phone in your purse or pocket. Admire the view. Create a Vision Board. (Write down 5 things that you want to accomplish by next month.) Strengthen your brain (Read/Listen to books.) Become a member of a fitness gym. Provide service to others. (Help someone in your community.) Host a game night. (Invite your friends over for a fun night of board games.) Clean out your closet. (Make a trash pile, a donate pile, and a keep pile.) Challenge yourself. (Set some goals for yourself that you never really thought of achieving and set out to accomplish them.) Get out of the house and meet new people. (One of the absolute best ways to rid yourself of boredom is through stimulating conversation.) Cook for fun. (If you don't really consider yourself a baker, look online for some beginner recipes and you will surely find something easy and delicious.)   “Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours."  – Dale Carnegie   The world and life – both are small. Go and enjoy every bit of it. Don’t miss the good things in life, worrying about the undesired. Stop being bored, and start being creative.   When life is boring, I hope you'll use these ideas to help you get out of any slump.   #AlrightNow #BreakOut

2019-02-15T13:28:16+00:00 By |