Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My New Blog Is Up and Running

Today I am launching a brand new blog. It's called Live Bold and Bloom: Personal Growth for Fearless Living. I feel like I've just delivered another child. I am so excited about the new look and what I will be able to offer you, my valued readers.

Live Bold and Bloom is for people who want to live fearlessly and make extraordinary things happen in their lives. If that's you or you wish it were, please hop over to my new blog.

Here's the link:

Live Bold and Bloom

Thank you for following me here, and I look forward to your comments and inspiration at Live Bold and Bloom!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do You Have a Mission Statement?

Many years ago, I worked in public relations for the JCPenney Company. James Cash Penney, the founder of the now giant retailer, based his business philosophy on one simple notion: "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" --The Golden Rule. In fact, his first store was called The Golden Rule.

This philosophy permeated every aspect of how Mr. Penney ran his business. He asked for a "fair remuneration and not all the profits the traffic will bear." He was the first to call employees "associates", and he treated them like family. During the stock market crash in the 1920's, he lost his personal fortune and took a loan against his life insurance in order to pay the associates' salaries.

When I arrived at JCPenney in 1984, it was the fourth largest retailer in the nation with stores in every state. The retail business was pretty cutthroat, but The Golden Rule remained the company philosophy almost ninety years after the store was founded.

One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Penney is this: "Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals, and I'll give you a stock clerk." Mr. Penney understood the value of having a mission, a goal around which everything in your life centers.

So are you are stock clerk with a goal or just a stock clerk? Are you a man or a woman with a mission? It's just my humble opinion, but I think it's as vital for individuals to have a mission and a vision for themselves as it is for any business. Writing a mission statement for yourself forces clarity and helps you define purpose. Putting it on paper makes it real. A mission statement is like your own personal constitution. It is the basis for making major life-directing decisions as well as making daily choices that impact us and those around us.

So here are my thoughts on writing a personal mission statement:

1. Think of a person in history or in your life whom you admire. What are the qualities of that person that you would like to emulate. List those qualities.

2. Define the type of person you want to become, not just what you want to have or do.

3. Define your life roles (career, family, community, etc.), and write down how you would like to be described in each of those roles.

4. Write down a goal or purpose for the four fundamental elements of who you are: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

5. List the talents and skills you possess that are most important to you.

6. Using the information you outlined above, begin crafting your mission statement. Keep it simple, clear and brief -- no more than 3-5 sentences long.

7. Create a mission statement that will guide you in your day to day actions and decisions, as well as your long term goals.

8. Keep your words positive and affirmative. Focus on what you want rather than what you don't want.

9. Review the mission statement regularly and revise and update it as you continue to ponder your values and goals. It may take you weeks to refine your final statement.

10. Keep your mission statement within view so that you can read it regularly. Use it as your personal framework for your life. Every time you make an important decision, let your mission statement be your guide.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Are You an Adrenaline Junkie?

Thousands of years ago when men were carrying clubs and wearing little fur loincloths, adrenaline was a life saver. You could count on its rapid fire results to propel you through the hunt or when some wild beast was hunting you. Adrenaline still gives us that jolt of energy when faced with a threat or surprise. But for the most part, it isn't necessary in everyday life. I mean, how often are you chased by a giant boar or a saber-toothed tiger?

Adrenaline creates some very unusual physical sensations that help you survive stressful situations. Time seems to slow down. Things seem to happen in slow motion. At the same time, you feel extremely alert, energetic and responsive. If you are physically hurt, you don't feel pain. You feel detached from reality -- more of an observer than a participant in what's happening. These mechanisms are in place to help you survive dangerous situations.

But what happens when your entire life is fueled by adrenaline? Is that possible? Absolutely. You may not have wild animals chasing you, but chasing your own tail will create the same effect. Our high-intensity, over-stimulated, stress-out lifestyles keep a constant adrenaline drip running through our veins. Initially, adrenaline gives you a high. You feel alert and energetic. Over time, you feel increasingly fatigued and unable to deal with stress. The adrenal glands are weakened, and you become susceptible to illness, insomnia and depression. You can become detached from the world around you, including family and friends.

Even with all of the negative consequences of an adrenaline-fueled life, adrenaline addiction is quite common. Type A personalities and people who are angry, worried, guilty or fearful are especially susceptible. Are you addicted to adrenaline?

Here's a self test to find out:

1. I drink caffeinated beverages in order to get going and keep going.
2. I eat sugar to calm myself.
3. I over-promise and then rush to finish projects.
4. I arrive at work rushed and already "on".
5. I feel an inner rush or lack of stillness most of the time.
6. I tend to be impatient.
7. I drive over the speed limit, tail gate and get angry in traffic.
8. I tend to run late or arrive just in time.
9. I often have to deal with a problem or hassle in my life.
10. I don't allow reserves of time in the day for things that come up.
11. I love a challenge and pushing through it as hard as I can.
12. It takes me a few days to calm down from surprises or upsetting events.
13. I find it boring or difficult to just relax and hang out with people.
14. I am at my best when under pressure and deadlines.
15. Sometimes I deliberately set myself up to wait until the last minute.
16. I don't arrive at the airport an hour before my flight.
17. I carry my cell phone even when I don't need it.
18. I unconsciously try the hardest way to get something done.
19. People complain that I'm not there with them, even when I am.
20. I am a driven type person.

Score Key:
15-20 -- You are a certified adrenaline addict
11-14 -- You probably have an unhealthy level of adrenaline in your body.
6-10 -- You may have an adrenaline problem.
0-5 -- Bravo! Adrenaline does not have a hold on you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ten Trends That Will Impact Your Life

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

from "The Times They Are A Changin'" by Bob Dylan

Even back in 1964, Bob Dylan understood that change is inevitable. The sooner you adapt, the better off you'll be. I'll even go one further than ole Bob. The times aren't just changing -- we are changing the times. Our behaviors and reactions are constantly evolving. Ripples of creativity, anger, innovation, dissatisfaction, greed, and optimism wash over humanity every day. Sometimes these ripples make waves. Sometimes they create tsunamis -- like wars and economic recessions.

One consistent attribute of the human spirit is resilience. We have an amazing ability to recover and adjust to misfortune, challenges and change. We are able to learn new ways of coping and responding to the ever-shifting events around us. As our societal responses emerge and take shape, we begin to see trends forming that give us a glimpse into the crystal ball of our future lifestyles.

There are hundreds of emerging trends on the horizon. Many of them are not real pick-me-ups to say the least. But I've researched some value trends that will have a positive impact on your life. Strangely enough, many of these positive trends have emerged from our economic meltdown. But isn't that they way it is with life? When it gives you lemons . . .

So here are ten trends that could be life-changing for you and your family:

1. Restraint
Showing restraint in spending and acquiring has become the new normal. The economic meltdown has melted our ability and enjoyment of free-for-all spending. We are now saving more, and even the most affluent see the value in cutting back and living more simply. Doesn't that take the burden off keeping up with the Joneses? Thank goodness.

2. Simplicity
This goes hand-in-hand with restraint and is a counter-trend to mass consumption. Consumers have been talking about simplifying their lives for several years now as reflected in the magazine titles and food labels we see. For many, the result of simplified living is a better life overall because we are producing less waste, eating simpler and healthier foods and having more time for ourselves and our families. A less complicated, cluttered life brings more peace of mind.

3. Global Influences
As globalization burgeons, people around the world are exposed to tastes, flavors, products and ideas from everywhere. We can communicate with just about anyone, anywhere, at any time. This ability is opening our minds to new experiences, and we want more. Increasingly we are becoming eager to try things irrespective of where they originate.

4. Adventure
As materialism declines, experiences are what people are seeking. And not just the same old experiences. We want adventure. We are looking for more creative ways to enjoy the world, and the travel industry has seen a huge up tick in active, experiential, and personal growth oriented travel. Trips that involve outdoor activities like rafting, hiking, kayaking, or biking, as well as educational travel is on the rise. We want memorable, beneficial adventures that we can share with friends and family. With so many travel options available at reasonable rates, now is a great time to plan the adventure of a lifetime.

5. Authenticity
With less expendable cash lying around, we want to spend our money on real products and craftsmanship. We want authentic experiences that don't flash with bling and over-marketing. Spin has spun itself out. Useful, well-made, practical, and meaningful are words that define what we purchase and why it's appealing. This move toward authenticity is a reflection of our shifting personal values. As we scale back to basics, we see the value od our outer world reflecting our inner core essentials.

6. Changing Gender Roles
Women will play an increasingly more important role in redefining traditional ideas at work. In 2009, for the first time ever, women represent 50% of all jobs in the U.S. Women represent 57% of all bachelor's degrees and 60% of all master's degrees, making them the most valuable part of a company's talent pool. The result will be more customized careers, flexible work arrangements, and the encouragement of more female-oriented management traits like empathy and compassion. It is also becoming less rare to see the woman as the main income earner and the man handling childcare and domestic duties. The pressure for maintaining traditional gender roles is definitely loosening up.

7. Mass Mingling
For the last several years, you've probably been hearing that the movement toward virtual communication and social media is going to create a generation of isolated robots who are wary of interpersonal relationships. Well, it appears that just ain't so, Joe. In fact, the opposite seems to be happening. Our online connections are encouraging real-world meet-ups. In some instances, that might not be great. But for networking, social gatherings, education, and business meetings, the virtual world is just another vehicle to finding like-minded people.

8. Happiness Measurement
Happiness is becoming a measure of economic prosperity. Factors such as quality of life and vacation time will be included in the overall measure of economic well-being. Including the happiness equation as part of the world of economics is certainly a huge paradigm shift taking us away from purely rational considerations. Behavioral economists are scrabbling to quantify "happiness", and we are seeing more books on the shelves about how to find it. I think if we look at the other trends I've list, it's easy to see that happiness probably includes a good dose of simplicity, adventure and authenticity!

9. Individuality
Increased experimentation with our own identities is spilling over into our cultural landscape. With blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, we can brand ourselves and launch businesses around our personal passions. In fact, everyday people are becoming national celebrities because they are media savvy and have something to offer. The absence, for the most part, of censure and ridicule, allows us to be creative in how we express and present ourselves to the world.

10. Youthfulness
We've known for years how to stay healthy and fit. The expectation of living a longer life isn't enough anymore. Now we want to stay young and look young. Cosmetic surgery has become popular, accepted and easily available. You can order off a menu of cosmetic treatments that smooth your skin, zap your veins, and suck your fat. Looking young isn't just for the fabulously wealthy anymore. I must admit, though, that I'm looking forward to the trend of loving wrinkles and revering the old and wise. Perhaps the trend toward authenticity will support that!

Sources: GfK Custom Research North America; Trendspotting Market Research