Does It Still Fit?

Just about every adult, at some point, has reached into their closet and pulled out something that just didn’t quite fit right anymore. It may be too tight, or too loose, or too worn, or just out of style. Whatever the reason, we know it’s best to just let it go.

In Fumio Sasaki’s book, Goodbye Things, he tells an interesting story of learning to let go of his stuff in order to live a more focused life. The book provides a list of ways to learn to let things go. One of these ways, is to say goodbye to who you used to be. The premise is that some of the items you keep may be related to a former activity, or image, which you no longer pursue. If they’re no longer helpful, then why keep them.

Isn’t this principle also true for those habits or traits which may have served us well in a prior lifestyle, but now conflict with who we’d like to become? I know that when I was a single parent of 5 active kids, being flexible about quickly shifting from one expectation to another probably helped my sanity. However, having a constantly shifting schedule derailed my habit of trying to plan weekly activities. A habit that took some practice to reestablish.

We all make goals for how we’d like to improve. But sometimes, we don’t recognize the small habits we have that are a roadblock to progress. For instance, the urge to look at your phone after a notification can trigger a derailment of your goal to reduce your time scrolling through videos. This trigger could be reduced by turning off just email notifications for some period of the day. The trick is to recognize those habits which derail your goals, and then take steps to limit them. This simple exercise will help you move away from who you used to be, and towards who you want to become.

Find more ways to create goals and habits at

Thanks for reading.
Please like and share with those who are struggling with these issues.
And remember to take the next step.

I Don’t Care

I once witnessed an “international incident” – of sorts. An American engineer said “I don’t care” to his Swiss counterpart. With that, the Swiss engineer stood up and shouted back in disbelief “We are spending billions of dollars and you don’t care?”

In my books, I write about the need to have difficult, but important, conversations regarding aging and estate planning. Tensions are typically high when discussing such subjects. The slightest miscommunication of word or intent can lead to unnecessary conflict and sadness. I have witnessed more than a few well-intentioned conversations that went awry because of simple miscommunication. 

Still yet, the conversations should be had. So what steps can be taken to minimize  the potential for misunderstanding? Here are a few things to remember when planning such a conversation. (And you should not undertake such a conversation without a little upfront planning).

Try not to use colloquial terms, which are informal words or phrases used in everyday conversation but are usually specific to a geographic region. These are easily misunderstood. I remember on my first trip to Kentucky that every cola was called a Coke.

Don’t use ambiguous terms which are open to interpretation. For example, the phrase “I’m down” can mean “I’m sad” or “It’s Okay with me” depending on the context.

Keep in mind that there may be generational differences in the meaning of a word. For example, the word “bug” is used by younger generations to refer to an app problem. Whereas, someone in their 80’s may think you are referring to an illness.

Difficult conversations are not the place for sarcasm or humor. Which is especially hard to contain for yours truly. However, this can also lead to misunderstandings if the listener is not familiar with the speaker’s tone or intentions.

Be specific in the terms you are using when discussing estate or care planning. If you are not familiar with the myriad of terms, my books “First Steps For Success” and “Embraced Living” give a great foundation in these areas and suggestions for where to begin this process.

Back to my opening story. The American engineer had simply said “I don’t care which you choose”. The Swiss engineer took this to mean that he literally was disinterested in the whole program. You can imagine his concern. It was all cleared-up and a few laughs were had. But there were some tense, undue, moments.

Thanks for reading. Please like and share with those who are struggling with these issues!
And remember to take the next step.

For more information on how to bring a little order to life’s chaos, visit and check out my books:
– First Steps For Success
– Embraced Living

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

“If you don’t move forward, sooner or later you begin to move backward.” – Mikhail Gorbachev

I frequently write about ways to reduce the anxieties of everyday life. And although it may seem a little paradoxical, I believe there is a certain amount of anxiety that comes with being too comfortable.

We all have our Comfort Zones. A behavior, or lifestyle, which allows us to cruise on automatic; never really having to think about what comes next. The problem with comfort zones, is that they’re an easy place to stay.  But like Gorbachev stated, there really isn’t such a thing as staying in one place. When we are comfortable with our habits and routines, our desire to meet our goals can start to slip-away at an imperceptible pace. Our wanting for sameness will often drag us into the decay. The funny thing is, we often know this is happening. And that just creates more anxiety. Here’s a simple reminder of how you can stop this process, step outside of your comfort zones, and get on with your personal growth, and a more fulfilling life.


Goal Review: Were they to big? Can you break them down in something more immediately achievable? Maybe it time for some new goals.

Evaluate Your Lifestyle: Take a close look at your daily habits and routines. Are there areas where you can make changes or improvements? Identifying these areas can help you break out of the decay and start making progress.

Talk to friends and family, for their thoughts about what they think you’d like to do or learn. They may have some pretty interesting thoughts.

Upgrade your knowledge: Whether it’s through reading, taking courses, or attending workshops and conferences, learning something new can help stimulate your brain and generate new energy.

Pursue something new: A new exercise routine, hobby, or social activity will break you out of your daily routine.

You may consider posting this phrase somewhere where you can see it daily so that it can remind you to take those first steps.

Thanks for reading. Please like and share!
And remember to take the next step.

For more information on how to bring a little order to life’s chaos, visit

Horses Sense

How does a 120-pound girl train a 1000-pound animal? One step at a time, of course. Years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a young lady who raised and trained her own riding horses. When she first told me about this I asked, “Aren’t you afraid of getting thrown?”. She just laughed and told me she had a better way to “break” a horse.

Looking back on that now, it’s easy to see how that seemed like an overwhelming task. Cowboy movies always show some poor fellow being thrown to the ground over and over until the animal finally bends to his will. But it seems, with a little planning, and a process there is a better way. But isn’t that usually the case?

We all have areas in our life where we’d like to make a big change. Whether it’s in our physical or mental health, finances, or relationships, there is something that we’d like to change, but the task seems too large to conquer, and we just lack the willpower.

Perhaps, though, we’re just using the wrong tool. Willpower is the ability to do something we don’t “want” to do. And we know we want to make a change; a permanent change to our behavior. This is done through small steps, taken every day, until the “change” has become the new normal.

In Brian Tracy’s The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success, Brian gives the following as the seventh, and final, step for achieving any goal: “Step seven: Do something every day, no matter how small, that moves you toward your goal.” Sure, the other steps include making goals, breaking goals into bite-size tasks, and having a schedule. But why is it so important to accomplish something every day?

In The Harvard Business Review’s May 2011 article The Power of Small Wins, the authors, Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer studied the dairies of knowledge workers to see what motivated them the most. Through this research, they discovered what they called “the progress principle”; which states “Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.”

It is in our small wins that we:

  • grow our self-discipline
  • find our motivation to take the next step
  • establish our mindset for success.

Well, what about the young lady? Her process was to work with the horse every day. She placed a potato sack on its back and gradually increased its weight over a period of weeks until it was accustomed to having the weight of a saddle and rider. Then she could climb on and continue training it to reign. You may ask, “What did the horse think about all this?” Well, it showed up at the corral every day at the same time for their sessions. ‘Horse sense’ means common sense. Maybe horses know what’s best for them. I just know that self-discipline is contagious.

As some of my readers already know, I was so impressed by this young lady, that I married her.

Thanks for reading. Please like and share!
And remember to take the next step…everyday…no matter how small.

Not This Year

It’s an old, familiar feeling that happens around this time every year. You’re headed for bed, reviewing your accomplishments for the day. And then it hits you. You’ve let your New Year’s resolution slip by once again!

You are not alone. By the end of January about two-thirds of New Year’s resolutions are typically abandoned.  But what if You could flip that to a 65% SUCCESS rate? Or even move it closer to a 95% success rate?

In a study performed by the Association for Talent Development, the most powerful factor in reaching goals turned out to be ‘accountability’. That doesn’t mean that a goal shouldn’t be written, have a planned completion date, and a list of its necessary steps. But those will only get you as far as 50%. But, by telling someone else about your goal, you raise your probable success to 65%. But there’s still one more step the study recommends for the highest probably success; get an accountability partner.

An accountability partner can check with you daily to keep you focused, on track, and establishing new habits. You can have planned weekly reviews to discuss successes, failures, and strategies to overcome obstacles. Furthermore, an accountability partner can often be there when you need some extra words of confidence and keep you progressing towards your goal. This powerful tool has been shown to provide a 95% success rate (and help establish some pretty strong friendships along the way)!

If you’ve got a goal that has seemed unreachable in the past, give it another try with the help of an accountability partner. You just may find it to be that extra boost you’ve needed all along.

Thanks for reading. Please like and share!
And remember to take the next step…

Improving Every Day

A favorite adage that project managers love to quote is, ‘You can’t manage what you don’t track’. Meaning, of course, if you don’t really know what you did yesterday, how can you improve upon it tomorrow?

First, what do you need to manage? Well, that’s different for everyone. But the focus of this post is our daily habits. We’ve all developed behaviors that don’t’ serve us well. Without conscious effort, we repeat a certain behavior often enough to become a habit. Or, as psychologist Donald Hebb put it , “neurons that fire together wire together”.  And before you know it, you’re going through a sequence of actions without even thinking about what you’re doing. Until you realize that you’ve done it once again.

This blog often contains thoughts about ways to improve some aspect of living. Often, the posts focus on changing behavior. Stanford behavioral scientist B J Fogg wrote that there are 15 ways to change behavior. And of those 15, two are the most effective; change your environment and change your habits. He further notes that changing your behavior will have the most effective, long term, impact. Fogg formulated the B=MAP behavior model, in which Behavior is a function of Motivation, Ability, and Prompt (or trigger). This post provides a simple tool to increase the readers ability to modify their behavior.

Using a daily journal, like the one provided at, will bring full focus to any behavior. A journal reminds us to review our actions and take new ones. All we have to do, is remember to make our timely entries. That’s now easier than ever when using calendar reminders on your computer and/or cell phone. If you’re interested in changing your early morning habits, add a calendar reminder  to journal when you first rise. If you’re seeking to change you meal-time habits, make a reminder to  journal at each meal. If you’re struggling with maintaining a household budget, journal ever morning to stay focused on your goals. Within a few days, you’ll  probably find that your remembering to journal without the prompts.

Journaling also provides an additional benefit. While it helps to establish a new habit, it also makes you reflect on how well it’s working and consider what changes could serve you better. In psychologists Daniel Goleman’s book, Focus, he downplays the common statement that ‘10,000 hours of practice makes anyone a master of their craft’. He notes that repetitiously practicing a bad golf swing won’t improve it. Improvement comes by making small changes as you practice. Journaling makes us stop and think about our, sometimes subconscious, actions.

As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…

Take a Minute to Reflect

Our everyday lives are whirlwinds of activity. For years it seemed like there was little time to sleep in-between the daily onslaught of getting up, getting ready, getting the family ready, getting bills paid, getting to work, getting home, getting dinner ready, getting shopping done, getting homework done, getting everyone in bed, and finally trying to get some sleep. 

That’s a lot of getting. Let’s try a little taking. Every day should have a few minutes to take some time to reflect and refocus.

Every household, and life, is different. Maybe mornings are just too crazy to set aside 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe it’s lunchtime when you have a little quiet time. Or perhaps it’s after everyone has gone off to bed before you can take a breather. Whenever it is, instead of looking for a digital escape, look for an internal escape. An escape from the demands of the world, to a place of peace and quiet. A place to reflect on what has happened and what you’d like to happen in your life. And just like reflections in water, the calmer the environment, the clearer the reflection.

There aren’t many steps to this process. It doesn’t have to be a long process which starts with burning incense and deep breathing exercises, although there’s nothing wrong with that if it works for you. But it does require that you turn off the daily distractions and try to focus on nothing for a bit. You’ll be amazed at how many things will pop into the forefront of your mind that typically get buried under the daily deluge of data. That’s why I recommend keeping a pen and paper handy to capture your thoughts before they escape again. The only stipulation I put on this time is that you purposefully start with reflection on positive events and accomplishments. It starts the process in the right direction.

If you want to capture your thoughts, keep track of your progress, and plan for the future, follow-up your reflection time with a few minutes reviewing your ‘Todays Expectations Worksheet’ available for free at the store on the website.

Thanks again for reading.
And remember to take the next step…


Time to Open a Window

Now that the weather us turning a bit cooler, it’s time to consider turning off the climate controlled interiors, opening our windows, and enjoying some fresh air indoors.

Although summer-like temperatures can linger for a bit, Fall eventually brings gentle breezes, cooler days, and chilly nights. All perfect for shutting off the a/c and  working with nature to reduce our electric bill and maintain our homes comfort. And the benefits don’t stop at the bank account.  Here are some other advantages for opening your windows this Fall.

  • There are numerous health benefits to having fresh air in your home. Many of our homes still being uses for our offices and school room. Since your brain uses around 20% of your oxygen intake, it is very sensitive to the changes in the air’s oxygen content. Fresh air usually means better brain function.
  • Along with brain function the body creates higher levels of serotonin with increased oxygen, elevate mood.
  • Having the windows open also means more sunlight. And sunlight, too, helps elevate mood and helps in the body’s production of vitamin D.
  • And one of my favorite reasons… the smell of Autumn. I don’t know if it’s the leaves or something else, but I truly love the smell of Fall.

Later this week I’ll post on things you can do to prep your home for winter while your furnace and a/c are taking a rest.

For additional details about cooling your home naturally see

For more information on life and household management, please visit

 These posts are written to share knowledge and help with everyday life. If you find them helpful or interesting, please Like this page and share it with friends.

Thanks again for reading.
And remember to take the next step…

Outdoor Fall Fun

Fall is a great time to get outdoors and let nature do the entertaining.

Here in the Midwest, summers are often hot and humid. Even short trips to the store can be sweltering and unpleasant. Entertainment during these hot days are usually centered around water or indoor activities. When the weather finally breaks at the end of summer we’re given a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the best that nature has to offer.

Early fall is a great time to get out on a river float. The crowds have died down and the water is still warm enough to not send you into shock should you happen to take a swim (unexpectedly or not). The days are long enough to still enjoy a full day out on the river.

Hiking is an inexpensive way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors. A quick internet search for “Hiking trails near me” will provide a plethora  of options, but often not much information about the hike itself. Using and phone app such as AllTrails provide not only maps, but information such as elevation and difficulty, as well.

If you’re a hiker. You’re probably itching to get into the woods. But no one likes to itch after they leave the woods. Use a spray containing Deet to dissuade flying insects from landing and biting on you. Spraying your shoes on clothing with Permethrin will greatly reduce the number of both flying and crawling pests, such as ticks and chiggers,  that will see you as a treat. Waiting till after the first frost greatly reduces the number of ticks and chiggers that you’ll encounter on your walks.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year to camp. Whether in a tent or camper, the nights can be comfortable with the proper gear. And what’s better than a cup of hot chocolate by a warm fire on a chilly night? Although not as inexpensive as it used to be, camping is still an affordable way to vacation from home life.

If you’re a Fall foliage fanatic like me, you’ll probably enjoy the interactive map hosted on It’s not just for the Smoky Mountains. They’ve compiled the peak leaf viewing predictions for the entire continental U.S. (but not Hawaii or Alaska). You can use this tool to plan a walk in the woods during peak color. Find it here:

Autumn is also the time for Fall festivals. Many communities and churches hold their annual picnics and carnivals during this time of year. These are often an opportunity to experience another cultures food and festivities. Each weekend there are usually opportunities to travel into the city, or out into the country, whichever you prefer. A quick internet search for your cities fall festivals should provide lots of options.

And finally, there are few things more relaxing than a day trip to the wineries. Some serve food and some have music on the weekends. Making it easy and convenient to spend several hours relaxing and enjoying the scenery.

So make a plan to get out of the house and enjoy the pleasant weather and beautiful fall foliage.

And remember to take the next step…

Stay safe in the heat

Stay safe in the heat.

Yesterday was a scorcher in the mid-west. My cars outside thermometer registered 101° F in the afternoon. Thankfully, my days tasks were indoors, and not out, as they frequently are during the summer. This kind of heat can be dangerous. But there are a few steps I take to help lessen the effects of such overwhelming sun and heat.

  1. Wear sunscreen. The sun may not even feel hot some days, but it can cause real damage to your skin.
  2. Wear long sleeves to protect your arms from the sun. All old-timers no this. You wouldn’t catch either of my grandfather’s out in the mid-day sun in short sleeves.
  3. Wear as much white as possible. Some days I am in the direct sun for hours- literally making hay while the sun is shining. As an experiment I dressed completely in white; from the top of my white hat, to the tips of my white leather gloves (I know right), all the way down to my white tennis shoes. The difference was so amazing, that I continue to do this every time I must spend the day in the field.
  4. Wear a wide-brimmed hat. This is another thing that all old-timers wore. Keeping the sun off of your face helps protect it from the sun’s harmful UV.
  5. Get a cheap car windshield visor to help keep the sun from heating up your car, and breaking down the plastic in its interior.
  6. If possible, crack your car window, even a very small crack in the window will let your vehicle vent some of its heated air. I spent a couple of years in Phoenix. It made a real difference if I forgot to crack my windows before leaving my car in the parking lot all day. Ouch.
  7. Keep a cooler in your car. My mother never left home without one. And if your drive to the grocery store takes more than 15 minutes, it’s good to have one available for those perishable groceries.
  8. Get hydrated before you go out. No. Coffee is not a hydrating liquid. Water is a hydrating liquid. Coffee has water. But it also has caffeine. Which causes your kidneys to pull more water from your body.
  9. Keep water in your vehicle or with you. And drink some during the day. Heat stroke, caused by a lack of water in your system. Can come on quick and without warning.
  10. Pre-freeze a large water bottle. My grandfather kept half-filled milk jugs frozen in the deep-freeze. And he always took one with us when we’d be out for hours in the hot sun. He kept it slung over his tractor fender with a piece of bailing twine. That’s a great summer memory…But I keep mine in a cooler.
  11. Plan your day to avoid the hottest part of the day. If you can, get up early to do your outdoor activities…or at least those in the direct sunlight.

I’m always interested in learning from my readers. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned to help ‘beat-the-heat’?

So be careful out there during these hot days.

And remember to take the next step…

For more helpful tips to limit the dangers of the extreme heat, visit