We Are Half Way There

Below is a review of the past six months. This week’s lesson is simply to take some time and review the previous six months’ topics. See what stands out to you. Make two kinds of notes: First, reflect upon what is working—what improvements and changes you are developing and seeing in your life.

Second, see what hits you right between the eyes—areas you see that you can grow or improve upon. Make notes as to which one or two things you can, or should, start doing to help bring more awareness and change. Finally, ask yourself, “Am I heading in the right direction?”

Here’s a formula you can follow to stay on pace:

– Take care of the daily to-do’s.
– Invest time (average 5 to 10 percent) on a regular basis toward future planning and projects.
– Invest time (2 to 5 percent) cleaning up old projects or messes.
– Finish strong and don’t create new messes that will need to be cleaned up in the future.

If you follow this formula, you might find yourself getting a little frustrated in the short term—especially if you have a number of messes to clean up—because it might seem like progress is slow. But, over a given period of time, you will start to see amazing progress on many levels. Your daily consistency will keep you on schedule with your projects and deadlines; your future planning will soon find itself reaping present rewards; your commitment to cleaning up messes will begin saving you time as you become more organized—mentally and in your workspace—and your efforts to finish strong and not make new messes will continually help to create more time for higher-end duties.

As with any long-term plan or goal, including The N.J.W Blog, results start to emerge slowly, but, like a snowball going downhill, they will increase rapidly the longer you consistently invest in them.

Again, below is a review of the past six months. Please take the time to read through and answer the questions above.

—Personal Development
Week One: Part One—The Journey
Week Two: Part Two—The Plan
Week Three: Part Three—Influence and Association
Week Four: Part Four—Learning and Education

—Goal-Setting
Week Five: Part One—Evaluation and Reflection
Week Six: Part Two—Establishing Dreams and Goals
Week Seven: Part Three—SMART Goals
Week Eight: Open Week
Week Nine: Part Four—Accountability

– Health-Spiritual/Physical/Emotional
Week 10: Part One—Spiritual Health
Week 11: Part Two—Emotional Health
Week 12: Part Three—Physical Health: Nutrition
Week 13: Part Four—Physical Health: Exercise

—Finances
Week 14: Part One—Getting Out of Debt
Week 15: Part Two—Saving
Week 16: Part Three—Investing
Week 17: Part Four—Giving

—Relationships
Week 18: Part One—Basics of Healthy Relationships
Week 19: Part Two—Family and Spousal Relationships
Week 20: Part Three—Friendships
Week 21: Part Four—Business Relationships

—Time Management
Week 22: Part One—Philosophy and Values
Week 23: Part Two—Creating a Proactive Schedule
Week 24: Part Three—Breaking Through Barriers
Week 25: Part Four—Gaining More Time

Upcoming Events:
Event Seven—Networking/Referrals
Event Eight—Selling
Event Nine—Communication/Presentation
Event 10—Leadership
Event 11—Memory/Speed-Reading
Event 12—Legacy/Contribution

-N.J.W Blog

Gaining More Time

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Gaining More Time

Here is what we are covering this month under the topic of Time Management:

1. Developing a Philosophy of Time Management—Establishing your priorities and values. As important as how to manage our time is first and foremost the why, since the why is the force that pulls us toward our dreams and determines the how. First we’ll look at the philosophy of time management and then determine our priorities based on the values we believe in and hold in the highest. We discussed these things in depth three weeks ago.

2. Creating a Proactive Schedule—Allocating time based on your unique priorities and values. Once you know why you are managing your time and the priorities and values you strive for, then it is important to understand where you currently spend your time and how to strategically budget for maximum performance. You see, something will always master and something will always serve. Either you run the day or it runs you. Two weeks ago we took a deeper look into this aspect of time management.

3. Breaking Through Barriers—Eliminating time wasters and overcoming procrastination. Many folks know what to do, but it is often the things we shouldn’t spend our time on that get us off track. It’s important that we not mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get tricked by being busy, but the key question is: Busy doing what? Last week, we looked at how to overcome procrastination and eliminate time wasters.

4. How to Gain More Time—We’ll talk about time-management pointers and how to reclaim one to two hours a day through delegating, skill improvement, multitasking and improved focus. These are things anyone can do to gain more time in their day. Yes, there are only 24 hours in each day, but we can maximize those hours by working “smarter” rather than longer, and employing other skills along with our time management. We will look at these ideas today.

On the topic of gaining more time, of course we can’t actually “gain” more time. Time is a fixed resource, but what we are talking about is the ability to manage ourselves in such an efficient way that we see our time “open up,” so to speak, so that we have more time to do what we want. We will also find we can accomplish much more in a shorter period of time.

As I said above, because time is a fixed resource, I want to strongly encourage you to embrace this concept of “gaining” time. The more efficiently we can do things, the more time we will be able to give to our families, our hobbies and other important areas of our lives. We will become people of great accomplishment and leave extraordinary legacies for those who follow us.

With that, let’s take a look at how we can “add” more hours into our days.

1. Delegate. As we review our priorities like we did a few weeks ago, we see there are certain things we should spend more time on and certain things we should spend less time on. It is all a matter of managing our priorities, playing to our strengths and acting on our natural giftedness.

Two thoughts: One, you should do the things that will make you successful. In other words, you should hire out or delegate anything that does not fit into the goal of taking your life and work to the next level. For example: If you are a person who makes money as an accountant, you should spend your time doing accounting. For this you might make $75 an hour. You should not spend your time doing filing. Instead, hire someone for $15 an hour to do the filing. Let’s assume there is two hours of filing to be done in an accountant’s office. That means you make $150 but spend $30, which is $120 a day and $600 a week. That is $31,200 a year!

Second, delegating allows you to work in the areas you are strongest. This will help you finish more quickly, with more quality and in a much better mood than if you are spending time working on things you are not good at. Spending time on your weaknesses creates discouragement and causes you to be less efficient. Instead, delegate it! You will find a lot more time for the good things in life when you do.

2. Skill improvement. Every time you improve your skills in an area you save time. If you learn to read faster, you can read that report in less time, and hopefully with better retention. If you learn to type better, the reports are written faster and with fewer mistakes. If you learn to communicate more clearly, your meetings will finish more quickly. You get the point. When you do things better, you also do them faster and that means being able to do more in the same period of time. Either way you come out a winner!

3. Single-tasking and multitasking. Be clear on this. There is a time to single-task and a time to multitask. There are certain tasks that can be done while you do something else and others you should devote your full attention solely to what you are doing.

Good times to multitask: When you can do one thing passively and one thing with focus. For example, many people on the East Coast ride the train to work. During their travel time (passive) they can also work on reports or get their reading done (focus) for the day. In fact, many people do all of their e-mail during their commute to and from work.

Good times to single-task: Anytime you need to focus. There are times you will need to be ruthless about distractions. First of all, you will find you get the work done more quickly, and secondly, you will find the work is done better and with fewer errors. Anything that requires detail is a good time to single-task. And as the old saying goes, “Haste makes waste.” And in our case here, not focusing will end up costing you more time—thus being inefficient—in the long run. So predetermine those tasks that require single focus and then do it!

4. Improved focus. Focus is a matter of discipline. It is the ability and willingness to let everything else fall away while you set your mind solely on the matter at hand. It is an incredible way to gain more time. Many hours are lost in the work world to employees (and owners!) who never force themselves to focus. Instead they come and go from their work, letting their minds wander and allowing themselves to be pulled from one task to another. You know the guy: There he is working at what he needs to accomplish and then he remembers that he hasn’t called his mother lately. So he does. Then he needs a drink of water so he goes to the water cooler. There he sees the sales manager and they shoot the breeze about golf last weekend. Twenty minutes later he goes back in his office and decides that it’s time for an early lunch…. On and on until the end of the day when he says, “I didn’t get a thing done today!” Focus!

Learn how to set aside distractions and put all of your energy, thought and work into accomplishing the goal. That is, focus. Do not let anything take you away from it. As you focus, you will see that you accomplish more in less time and with better results.

5. Working “smarter” rather than longer. You should make it your goal to work fewer hours by working more efficiently. Anyone can establish their schedule and work in such a way that enables them to leave the office at a predetermined time and get home to eat dinner with their family. I do not know a person alive who couldn’t work more efficiently and thus work shorter periods of time if they worked smarter. What constitutes smarter? Here is the short list: Be directed by goals, ruthless against distractions, work from a prioritized task list, be focused and disciplined, delegate, and budget the time you have to get what you need done, done.

6. Applying time-management skills. Think about the hundreds of millions of dollars—maybe even billions of dollars—spent on time-management seminars. Whole companies that generate 50 million dollars a year have been built just on time-management tools, products and seminars. Yet most people are very inefficient with their time. Why is this? Because of one simple problem: They do not apply the truths they learn. The key is application.

There are ways to gain hours in your day. There are ways to become more efficient. You can manage and use your time to become everything you desire to be and have everything you desire to have.

We are drawing to a close now with our month on time management. As I mentioned before, time is our most precious asset. Every day is a new day—yesterday is gone, so do everything within your power to make each day the best it can be so you can live out your values and priorities.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Supplemental Notes

The Top 10 Ways to Gain Two Hours a Day or More!

Take a look at the list below and implement a few—if not all—of them and see how much time you gain this week and how much more you accomplish. When you gain two hours a day, you gain 14 hours a week and a whopping 728 hours a year, or 18.2 workweeks! Note: The estimates of time saved are per day. These are also very conservative estimates.

1. Turn off the TV. We may as well start with the easy one. The average person watches three hours a day. So turn it off for one of those hours. Do something else instead. Read a book. Better yet, start writing your book! Time saved: 1 hour.

2. Group your projects together. Do all your e-mail at once or make all your calls at once. Starting and stopping wastes a lot of time. Time saved: 15 minutes.

3. Don’t answer the phone. Let it go to voice mail. Then, at a set time, listen to the voice mail, delete liberally, and write down the information on a pad to call back when it is best for you. Talk to them only about the issue at hand. Time saved: 30 minutes. Another 30 if you count the telemarketers you avoid.

4. Get up 15 minutes earlier. Go to bed 15 minutes later. If your alarm goes off every day at 6 a.m., make it 5:45. Now we’re not saying to deprive yourself of the necessary and needed sleep your body requires to function properly, but if you can, try the 15 minutes and see what you can accomplish with those extra minutes. Time saved: 30 minutes!

5. Enroll in what Zig Ziglar calls “Automobile University.” We have a friend who always has the best CDs with him. He listens to about 10 hours of great material a week, all while in the car. Time saved: 1 hour.

6. Cut your lunch short. Shave 15 minutes off of it. Side benefit: You’ll lose weight without the dessert! Time saved: 15 minutes.

7. Hire an assistant. Let him or her do the smaller tasks like answering e-mail, copying, screening calls and filing. Time saved: 1 hour.

8. Focus. Different people are distracted by different things. Whatever it is that distracts you, cut it out. Tune it out and lock in like a laser on your work. You will save time and your work will be better! Time saved: 30 minutes.

9. Shift your work hours to include time when others aren’t at the office. Being there alone will help you stay on task, and you will be shocked at how much you get done. Time saved: 15 minutes.

10. Plan. Spend 15 minutes a day planning your day to work on the most important tasks in the most efficient way. You will lose 15 minutes but gain an hour. Time saved: 45 minutes.

Total if you do them all: six hours a day of time saved, improved focus and increased productivity!

If you will just implement a few of these—those that work best for you—you will see a dramatic improvement in your time management and productivity.

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Breaking Through Barriers

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Special Audio Bonus! Nationally recognized writer and author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast Laura Vanderkam talks about the value of keeping a time log, how time is a choice, and how every schedule needs a little slack.

philosophy, which says that there are about a half-dozen things that make the greatest difference in any area of our life, whether it’s health, money, relationships, etc. If you focus on about five or six things long term, you will be in the top 20 percent of successful people in your particular area. Next question is: How do you get in the top 10 percent, 5 percent or 1 percent? Well, this is where refinement comes in.

Our guess is that if you have mastered staying on task and limiting interruptions on a consistent, daily basis in your work life, then you have positioned yourself in the top 20 percent of the marketplace. But what are the refinements the ultra-successful make? Obviously, they have a handle on time management, both in how to maximize their work time to get the most benefit, as well as having more personal and family time to enjoy their results.

What are these refinements? We will touch on this later. Additionally, we’d like to add that for the top 10 percent, 5 percent and 1 percent, it requires a clear mission and purpose in advance—clarity about what they want to achieve and the cost it will require. Once procrastination is conquered and good time management habits are established, then, often, the biggest obstacles are prioritizing your projects/goals and nipping interruptions in the bud. The more success you have, the more people and opportunities will present themselves at your doorstep. No one likes to say no and be less than positive in how we relate to others and the opportunities we have to be of service, yet the old adage that “good” is the enemy of “best” begins to come into play the more you create success in your life.

A great example of this would be in your giving or charitable causes. Are there plenty of opportunities to give to worthy causes? Yes! Are there plenty of needs out there that are deserving of our attention, time and resources? Yes! Are there plenty of inquiries and solicitations for us to contribute our resources to these needs? Yes! Are we able to meet all the demands? Probably not. Are you made to feel guilty by others or yourself? Maybe. Well, the same is true with your time. There is only so much to go around, so it’s imperative to make good choices. Just as we are a steward of our money, and we believe it has an opportunity to multiply when we make good decisions as to how we allocate and spend it, likewise, we feel the same responsibility and opportunity with our time. Identify your priorities, set your goals, value and maximize your time, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

This month we’re focusing on the topic of Time Management:

1. Developing a Philosophy of Time ManagementEstablishing your priorities and values. As important as how to manage our time is first and foremost the why, since the why is the force that pulls us toward our dreams and determines the how. First we’ll look at the philosophy of time management and then determine our priorities based on the values we believe in and hold in the highest. Two weeks ago, we discussed these things in depth.

2. Creating a Proactive ScheduleAllocating time based on your unique priorities and values. Once you know why you are managing your time and the priorities and values you strive for, then it is important to understand where you currently spend your time and how to strategically budget for maximum performance. You see, something will always master and something will always serve. Either you run the day or it runs you. Last week, we looked deeper into this aspect of time management.

3. Breaking Through Barriers—Eliminating time wasters and overcoming procrastination. Many folks know what to do, but it is often the things we shouldn’t spend our time on that get us off track. It’s important that we not mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get tricked by being busy, but the key question is: Busy doing what? This week, we will look at how to overcome procrastination and eliminate time wasters.

4. How to Gain More Time—We’ll talk about time-management pointers and how to reclaim one to two hours a day through delegating, skill improvement, multitasking and improved focus. These are things anyone can do to gain more time in their day. Yes, there are only 24 hours in each day, but we can maximize those hours by working “smarter” rather than longer, and employing other skills along with our time management. We will look at these ideas next week.

This week, our focus is on eliminating time wasters and overcoming procrastination. Before we get started, I just want to say that I hope you are making strides in developing and implementing your philosophy of time management as well as setting priorities. You have also had a week to take an inventory of your time usage and begin working on budgeting your time. This should be proceeding nicely for you. Keep working on your time-budgeting skills; it may not come overnight, but if you work on it—and yourself—you will get your life under control and see a whole-new world open up.

With that being said, let’s move on to this week’s topic of eliminating time wasters and overcoming procrastination.

The key to all time management is to stay focused, have a plan based on priorities and actively follow that plan. If you do these three things, you will have your time—and your life—under control and moving along the way you would like it to.

But, similar to when you are driving, various things can slow you down, sidetrack or distract you. The same goes for time management. Have you ever been driving down the road when you came across a detour because of road work? Or maybe you saw a store you wanted to stop at even though you had somewhere else to go?

Managing our time is much like that. There we are, managing our time, knowing where we want to go because we have our priorities set, and then a time waster presents itself. Or we waste time because we simply procrastinate. Either way, it nets the same result: We don’t get where we want to go.

So let’s take a look at the issue of time wasters first, and then at the idea of procrastination.

What are time wasters? You may think they are obvious, but this isn’t necessarily true. Time wasters are anything that prevents you from accomplishing the proper use of your time based on your priorities and values.

Believe it or not, time wasters can be “good things.” Now, I don’t mean they are good for you, but that they may masquerade as something “good.” You may be able to look at them in a vacuum and say the things you are spending your time on are inherently good—until you weigh them against your priority list. Then it becomes clear that these “good” things are actually “time wasters.”

Time wasters fall into two primary categories:

The Urgent. If we do not have a firm grasp on our priorities, and work hard to develop a schedule that keeps us working on the important things we want to achieve, eventually the “urgent” will be upon us. Urgent things cry out to us, telling us they are important, when in actuality, they are not. The power of the urgent time waster is in the dramatic demand it makes on us. When it calls our name and appears to be urgent requiring that we spend time on it, it takes away from the very important things we should be working on. I have found, as I’m sure you have, too, that urgent things can rarely be done in short order. They usually drag themselves out, keeping us even further from our true goals. Perhaps the best way I have seen this demonstrated is in Stephen Covey’s idea of the four parts of the time-management quadrant. You have:

– The important and the urgent
– The important
– The urgent but non-important
– The non-important

The idea is to stay in Covey’s second quadrant. At first, you may be in Quadrant One (hopefully, you don’t spend much time in quadrants 3 and 4), but as you manage your time, you will see fewer and fewer urgent matters vying for your attention.

Always be aware of so-called “urgent” matters because most of the time they are just time wasters. Have the courage to let them go. At the very least, take a serious look at your life and make sure you aren’t constantly living in crisis mode. Crisis mode is a very dangerous thing when it comes to making good decisions and managing your time.

The Pleasurable. Pleasurable time wasters are extremely insidious. Sometimes when we spend time on urgent matters, we know we are wasting time and we wish we could get out of them. Not so with pleasurable time wasters. These are the things that we willingly and openly pursue. We know they are time wasters, and yet we still pursue them. Why? Because they are fun! They are pleasurable. We enjoy them, and that keeps us from disciplining ourselves to work on our priorities. It is much like the person who wants to lose weight yet keeps eating dessert night after night—they do it because it tastes so good.

As you think about time wasters, think about which ones are urgent and which ones are pleasurable for you. Work to get so far ahead in your priorities that you virtually eliminate urgent matters that call your name. In regard to the pleasurable, this takes you being brutally honest with yourself. It takes the ability to admit to yourself that you are choosing what is fun rather than what is important.

Remember, you don’t have much time to waste in the first place. I realize now in the latter years of my life that time moves by quickly! Time is a very precious gift, and it’s one that we can and should take seriously because once that moment in time is spent, it can never be retrieved. Stay focused on the very important things you desire for your life. Stay focused on the things that will build your business and fulfill your life’s purpose. Stay focused on the things that will bring you a happy and joy-filled family life. Don’t waste your time on things that will quickly pass away and have relative unimportance.

Procrastination
Paul of Tarsus wrote, “The things I want to do, I do not do.” This is a problem as old as humanity itself. I am sure the wheel would have been invented and fire discovered much earlier if it weren’t for procrastination!

Humans have two incredible abilities: First, they are able to become crystal-clear about what it is they want. Second, they are able to completely put off pursuing it!

I believe there are a few primary things that cause people to procrastinate.

What drives procrastination?
Fear. In my opinion, this is the biggest source of procrastination. People procrastinate because they are afraid—afraid of failure or afraid of success. They are afraid they will do a poor job or of what others will think of them. I would encourage you to think about whether or not this is an issue for you. If so, do whatever it takes to deal with your fears and move past them.

Hard work. Some people procrastinate because they know doing the work will be hard. Many people have an aversion to hard work, so they procrastinate, putting it off indefinitely. Realize that being successful usually requires a lot of hard work. Sometimes it is physically exhausting, sometimes mentally or emotionally exhausting. But let me assure you of this: If you invest in the miracle of hard labor required to accomplish your goals, the rewards, the gifts and the feelings of increased self-esteem you will reap will far outweigh the pain of labor. At the end of your efforts, you will be able to smile with deep satisfaction knowing you have faithfully sowed and now you can joyfully reap—and reap without complaint or apology! What a powerful opportunity to invest in the labor that creates miracles.

Lack of passion. Some people procrastinate because deep down they aren’t really passionate about what it is they should be doing. It isn’t really a priority for them or for their life, even if they have said it is. If this is the case, go back to the drawing board and get really clear about your priorities and values; then have the courage to pursue and live them out.

An inability to motivate themselves. Some people procrastinate because they do not know how to get themselves going internally. They wait until something externally moves them. You’ve heard me give the example of the guy who says, “I wish someone would come by and turn me on and get me motivated.” Well, what if they don’t show up? You’ve got to have a better plan than that. You’ve got to be self-motivated because, ultimately, that is the best motivation. Now, everyone is motivated differently, so it’s your job to figure out what it is that really motivates you and then do what it takes to get and stay that way.

Time wasters and procrastination are the roadblocks that will keep you from reaching your goals. This week, work to become aware of the things you waste your time on and what drives your procrastination. As you come to realize these things, as you become fully aware, you will be better equipped to overcome them.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

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-Nick James

Supplemental Notes

The Top Three Time Wasters

1. Television. Yes, the old one-eyed monster. Think about how much TV you watch. Go through each day, from Sunday to Saturday. For example, Sunday: one hour watching Meet the Press, three hours for football. Monday: half-hour morning show, one hour news, half-hour sitcom, etc. Add it up. Be honest! The average amount of television watched per week by “busy professional people who don’t watch much TV”? Twenty hours!

Now, think about this: That is more than 1,000 hours a year—or 25 full workweeks! What could you accomplish if you had an extra 25 workweeks a year?

So, how can you overcome this time waster? Here are a few ideas:

– Get rid of the TV. At the very least, cut back on your TV viewing.
– Be proactive and take control of how much you watch. Budget your time.
– Cut some shows out (most shows can be cut out and your life won’t suffer!).
– Using DVRs for recording the shows you want to watch is great because they allow you to watch the program but skip the commercials.

2. Telephone calls. The phone can be the “great interrupter.” There is this very weird, almost magical effect that a ringing phone has: Many of us are like preprogrammed zombies; we “must” answer it. Try something the next time you have someone in your office and the phone rings. Just keep talking as though you don’t hear it. Watch the person you are with nervously look over at the phone and then back at you before finally asking, “Do you want to answer that?” Even though it would take away from them, they expect you to answer the phone!

The fact is that you do not have to answer a ringing phone. Especially with voice mail, you can let the phone ring through and schedule a time at regular intervals to return important calls (one side benefit is you will be amazed at how much time you save by not having to work your way off the phone with unsolicited sales calls).

How can you avoid wasting time on the phone? Here are a few ideas:

– Don’t always answer it. Enough said.
– Schedule your calls into time frames. Make all of your calls during regularly scheduled times. This will keep you from “spur of the moment” calls that distract you.
– Know before you call what you want to talk about, talk about it, and then get off the phone. When you call someone, say, “Hi there, I wanted to talk to you about XYZ.” Then talk about it. When you are done, say, “Well, I know you are busy and I have some things to get done, too, so I’ll let you go.” Bingo—you’re off the phone!

3. E-mail. E-mail is the new phone—except much worse. Why? A few reasons. Some of it is spam, but the main reason is because people can’t type as fast as they can talk. When someone writes an e-mail that will take a long response, either call them or write an e-mail that says, “Call me. It would be better to talk about this.” Another reason is the volume of e-mail we receive. Add to that the forwarded jokes from your aunt in Omaha. Just sorting through this takes time. By the way, the best way to get off Aunt Margaret’s e-mail list is to politely ask. Just tell her that you are trying to cut down on e-mail and ask if she will take you off the list. It works!

Some ideas for reducing email time wasting:

 Overcome your fear. We have made a great point about fear. Much procrastination results because we fear things. A lot in life can be accomplished as we dig deep into who we are and what drives us. Do you have fears that cause you to procrastinate? Do some internal work and find out what you are really afraid of—then face that fear. Get some help from a coach or counselor if you need it.

2. Get motivated. Motivation is something we have to work at. Read books, listen to tapes, go to seminars, and hang out with exciting people. Do whatever you can to stay motivated. It is much easier to get down to business when you are motivated than when you aren’t.

3. Just start. Just start doing what you said you need to do. Tell yourself you are going to just do 10 minutes and then you’ll quit. What often happens, though, is that you don’t quit. Much of the problem with procrastination is just starting. So get started!

Creating A Proactive Schedule

Time Management, Part Two—Creating a Proactive Schedule

I hope in the past week you were able to begin clarifying your core priorities and values, as well as the exact reasons why you want to be diligent in managing your time.

Here is what we are covering this month under the topic of Time Management:

1. Developing a Philosophy of Time Management—Establishing your priorities and values. As important as how to manage our time is first and foremost the why, since the why is the force that pulls us toward our dreams and determines the how. First we’ll look at the philosophy of time management and then determine our priorities based on the values we believe in and hold in the highest. Last week, we discussed these things in depth.

2. Creating a Proactive Schedule—Allocating time based on your unique priorities and values. Once you know why you are managing your time and the priorities and values you strive for, then it is important to understand where you currently spend your time and how to strategically budget for maximum performance. You see, something will always master and something will always serve. Either you run the day or it runs you. Today, we will look deeper into this aspect of time management.

3. Breaking Through Barriers—Eliminating time wasters and overcoming procrastination. Many folks know what to do, but it is often the things we shouldn’t spend our time on that get us off track. It’s important that we not mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get tricked by being busy, but the key question is: Busy doing what? Next week, we will look at how to overcome procrastination and eliminate time wasters.

4. How to Gain More Time—We’ll talk about time-management pointers and how to reclaim one to two hours a day through delegating, skill improvement, multitasking and improved focus. These are things anyone can do to gain more time in their day. Yes, there are only 24 hours in each day, but we can maximize those hours by working “smarter” rather than longer, and employing other skills along with our time management. We will look at these ideas in two weeks.

This week I want to get down to the basic nuts and bolts of time management. I want to discuss how to proactively schedule your time and allocate it based on your priorities and values.

Once you have determined what your priorities and values are—what is most important to you—you will want to take a hard look at where you actually spend your time.

Essentially, this consists of two basic processes. First, we want to take a look at where our time is currently being spent—an “inventory,” if you like. It is always wise to start from wherever we are and with whatever we’ve got. From there, we’ll want to begin setting our schedule according to our priorities. This could be called “budgeting.”

A financial model may be best for us to review in order to help us understand how to go about this. Most of us are familiar with analyzing our finances. The first thing we do is track where our current spending is and then we write and begin adhering to a budget. This is extremely effective if you are disciplined enough to follow through, and the same principles work quite well when we look at our time management. The process is so simple, yet so very powerful.

Time Inventory
Have you ever truly looked at where you are spending your time? I mean virtually minute by minute? This is the first order of business because I am sure you will be surprised.

A time inventory is done by taking a small journal, calendar or notebook and writing down everything you do during the day. I recommend doing this for at least three or four days, but it really is most effective when done for a week or two, since there are some things we might only do once a week.

Begin tracking what you spend your time on. Write down everything. If you spend 10 minutes on the phone, write it down. If you sleep for eight hours, write it down. If you eat lunch for 45 minutes, write it down. If you commute 35 minutes each way, write it down. If you watch television for three hours, write it down.

Certainly even one day will begin to reveal some of your patterns. A basic day may show that you sleep for eight hours, eat for two and half hours, work for eight hours, drive for one and a half hours, talk on the phone for three hours, and watch television for three and a half hours, among other things, of course! Hopefully what you will begin to see is that you are spending the right amount of time on some things that fit with your priorities. You may realize you are neglecting other things, and certainly you will see there are things you are spending an inordinate amount of time that are opposed to your priorities.

After a few days or so of doing this, sit down and total up your “spending.” What does it look like? Where did your time all go? Are you happy with how you spent it? These things will become clear, because if you track it moment by moment, the numbers will not lie. I believe it is so important to make the distinction that time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you can’t get more time. Once spent, it’s gone. Assessing our time expenditures is the first step toward getting our “spending” under control, because it will show us that our memory of how we spent our time can often be a little foggy. It’s powerful when we understand, grasp and apply the principle of wisely budgeting our time.

Time Budgeting
Just as a person may realize that they have been spending $250 a month eating out when they really only want to spend $100 month, you can begin to set a “time budget” for yourself.

Now, I would suggest that budgeting be done once or twice a week, but some of you may need to do this every day, especially at the beginning of the process.

Let’s assume for a moment that you work a typical Monday through Friday workweek. You may want to sit down on Sunday evening and spend a half-hour going through your schedule for the upcoming week. Use this time to group your activities together as much as possible to maximize your time.

For example, you may want to assign one hour each day to answering phone calls or e-mail. Often, our days are interrupted and we work inefficiently, because as we work on something, the phone rings and we answer it, and then we have to try and pick our task back up (often right in the middle) and go back to work. This is very inefficient. It is better to have a set time to make and return your calls. Perhaps you need to schedule four half-hour slots a day. This is where knowing your own business comes into play, but the idea is to schedule your tasks so that you do them when it is best for you and your management of time.

You may budget five 45-minute lunches during the week. Well, if by Friday you have spent your “budget” on lunches, perhaps you will have to skip one to keep yourself on budget. Just as you would stop spending money if you were to reach your financial budget, this same principle will help you with your time.

Now apply this to all of your activities throughout the week. Again, you might need to do this each morning, and that is OK—tailor it to whatever works best for you.

The key is to set these time budgets according to your priorities. By putting actual time frames into your calendar, you place your true priorities at the forefront of your schedule, allowing them to drive your activities, instead of just doing whatever urgent matter is at hand.

Time management takes discipline because at times you will have three hours scheduled for some important project and something else will be screaming for your attention. Often it will seem to either be more “urgent” or more fun. Either way, you will need to have the inner fortitude to say no and follow your time budget. The key here is to not allow the “winds” of the urgent blow you off course and prevent you from accomplishing your established priorities. Use your schedule—or time budget—as a rudder to guide you through your day and help you reach your goals.

The idea here is to be proactive in the use of your time. Too many people take what comes to them rather than proactively pursuing their chosen priorities. Budgeting your time will help you immensely in achieving the success you desire!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

Time Management(Core)

This month we will focus on the important topic of time management. As we discuss in today’s edition, effective use of time management is usually a result of identifying your priorities and values and then working from those priorities. We would also add that identifying the need to establish these priorities is often borne out of necessity—whether it is being a single mom or dad; having to overcome a major challenge or setback; or wanting to create as rich and full life as possible through relationships, health, philanthropy, etc.

To overcome certain obstacles or accomplish ambitious goals, the effective use of time management is a necessity. Look around for examples of people who have the successes you desire; they seem to have relationships you would like to have, the health you desire, the business success you want. Decide which skills you need to attain and the disciplines you need to engage in to reach that same level of success. Then, budget those into the new possibilities of time you will begin to “create” as you follow through this month on what N.J.W has for you.

I’m excited about our topic of Time Management. You’ve heard me say it before, but the management of time is the best-kept secret of the rich. So here is what we will cover this month:

1. Developing a Philosophy of Time Management—Establishing your priorities and values. As important as how to manage our time is first and foremost the why, since the why is the force that pulls us toward our dreams and determines the how. First we’ll look at the philosophy of time management and then determine our priorities based on the values we believe in and hold in the highest. We will discuss these things more in depth later on in this edition.

2. Creating a Proactive Schedule—Allocating time based on your unique priorities and values. Once you know why you are managing your time and the priorities and values you strive for, then it is important to understand where you currently spend your time and how to strategically budget for maximum performance. You see, something will always master and something will always serve. Either you run the day or it runs you. Next week we will look deeper into this aspect of time management.

3. Breaking Through Barriers—Eliminating time wasters and overcoming procrastination. Many folks know what to do, but it is often the things we shouldn’t spend our time on that get us off track. It’s important that we not mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get tricked by being busy, but the key question is: Busy doing what? In two weeks, we will look at how to overcome procrastination and eliminate time wasters.

4. How to Gain More Time—We’ll talk about time-management pointers and how to reclaim one to two hours a day through delegating, skill improvement, multitasking and improved focus. These are things anyone can do to gain more time in their day. Yes, there are only 24 hours in each day, but we can maximize those hours by working “smarter” rather than longer, and employing other skills along with our time management. We will look at these ideas in three weeks.

This month is going to be an exciting one because time management is such a powerful issue. When a person masters time management, look out because they will have transformed their daily life into a powerful force for achievement.

When a person learns why they should manage their time and finds those compelling reasons that drive them forward, it is only a matter of time until they achieve everything they set their mind to. When they live out their priorities and values; when they know where their time has been going and where they want it to go; when they eliminate things that hold them back, wow, they are on the road to massive accomplishment.

So let’s look at some of the whys of time management. We all know the value of doing the important things first and leaving the unimportant things for some other time, and essentially we know how to do it, but we often lack—or at least are unaware of them—compelling reasons as to why we should manage our time. Let me give you an example. Imagine you are a smoker. You already know what it takes to quit, but you don’t have enough of a reason to quit. But then you find out you’re going to have your first child, and now, all of a sudden, you have a reason (or maybe even two). You want to live as long as you can to see your baby grow up, and you also want to make sure your secondhand smoke doesn’t affect the health of your new child. So you quit because you finally have a strong enough reason.

Now, what about time management? Why take control of our lives and manage our time? Below are a few of the main compelling whys of time management.

The first is a deep appreciation for the idea of stewardship. Ultimately, our lives are not our own; we owe them to someone else. Think about our lives like a banker. The banker is a steward of someone else’s money. The money in the bank is not his. In fact, money is entrusted to him to invest. I view time management in much the same way. I am given my life and entrusted to manage it wisely with all of the skill, discipline and responsibility that I can. I believe time is our most valuable asset, and yet, so often, we tend to waste it, kill it and spend it rather than invest it. But when my life is over, I will hand back whatever I have made of it because, ultimately, I am a steward of the life given to me. This philosophy drives me to invest my life wisely and to manage my time.

Managing my time allows me to spend more time with those people important to me, and I love having that option. Managing my time well and taking care of my work while I am at work gives me the freedom to spend time with those I want. Too many times, people get “stuck” at work because they simply haven’t managed their time well and end up paying the price by having to sacrifice time with their family.

So often I hear people complain about their lack of time and what they have not been able to accomplish; they are living lives of frustration. That isn’t very enjoyable, is it? What compels me to be disciplined in my time management is understanding that if I manage my time according to my priorities, then my result will not be frustration, but fulfillment, and ultimately that is exactly what we all want to experience, isn’t it? Now, let me give you a key phrase: Recognize that managing time will bring personal fulfillment and allow you to accomplish what you desire. But a word of warning here as well: Days are expensive. When you spend a day, you have one less day to spend, so make sure you spend each one wisely.

Stewardship, people and fulfillment are three very powerful reasons to manage your time. Give some thought to these this week.

Now, let’s talk a little about priorities and values.

What are priorities? The dictionary defines a priority as precedence, especially established by order of importance or urgency. Priorities are the things or activities you give the utmost importance, things done because of their inherent value. If you think about it, the root of the word is prior. Priorities are those things that come prior to or before, or, better put, first. Time management then is basically priority management. It is the act of determining what is important, and then living out your life or work in a manner that will help you fulfill your priorities.

What are your values? Simply put, they are those things you value or have value for you; they are the important things. It is wise to decide what is major and what is minor on your importance scale and then learn how to separate the majors from the minors. You’ve heard me say it in my seminars, but a lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things. Don’t allow yourself to fall into this trap and waste time on things that are not of value to you. Instead, invest in things that will bring you pleasure, joy and fulfillment.

So how do we make sure we live out our priorities? Here is a very simple, yet powerful, way to get started and to move forward with your priorities.

First, you must know what your priorities are. If you haven’t already, stop and take a few minutes to list them in the workbook. This list should include your priorities in all areas of your life.

Second, group them into areas. For example, work, family, hobbies, health, etc.

Third, under each category, put them into order of importance, from most important to least important.

Fourth, stay tuned next week, when we’ll specifically talk about how to look at the time you currently spend and how to take these priorities and put them into a fully functional schedule that will empower you to live them out. (Here’s a preview: Begin to spend the majority of your time on those things that are at the top of each of your priority lists. Do them first and leave things that are less important for later. Focus your time on those priorities you have established.)

Basically, this is the idea of a simple priority task list. Figure out what is important, put them in order, start with the most important, and move down the list—simple but powerfully profound.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

Business Relationships

Welcome back to the N.J.W Blog Where our main focus is to provide value for us. So that our personal life can improve. You always learn something new everyday!

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This week, we focuse on the value and importance of our business relationships. We will give many excellent points and share the core principles involved in creating and maintaining healthy, successful, win-win business relationships.

In keeping with today’s theme, we’ve noticed (and I’m sure you have, too) that while many companies and individuals might be struggling right now, there is also a group of companies and individuals flourishing. We’ve also noticed there are some common characteristics found in these companies and individuals who seem to do well during uncertain times. Here are five characteristics that stand out:

– These companies and individuals operate with a win-win philosophy and inherently value their business relationships with customers, employees and vendors. When you understand and appreciate this principle, it allows you to create and receive value both on a short- and long-term basis, as well as recognize and be available for new opportunities that present themselves.

– These companies and individuals have an entrepreneurial mindset. Although it’s true that when a boom is going on the entrepreneur is often leading the way, I’ve also noticed that when the water is high (things are going well), everything tends to even out and most everyone seems to do well. But when it all starts to go south, it’s then that entrepreneurs can rise more quickly and distinguish themselves. Their ability to take risks, be decisive, recognize and seize opportunity, and to basically “create” allows them to find a way to make things happen.

– These companies and individuals have an excellent work ethic and focus. In sports, dominant athletes, beyond their remarkable ability and talent, often have something more that helps propel them into greatness: their fierce competitiveness and their incredible work ethic. How do you beat the most talented person in the world when they will also outwork you and have a “will to win” that is not to be exceeded? Well, the same is true in business. The top performers do not get complacent. They do not rest on their laurels, and they don’t decide that because they are doing well or are at the top that they are good enough. Their work ethic and drive to be their personal best have allowed previous victories and momentum to carry over into more success, even in difficult times.

– These companies and individuals have made a commitment to succeed, the prerequisite to all successes. As Jim Rohn says, all good things are upstream, but the natural tendency is downstream. Commitment creates the mindset that allows us to face challenges, shut out negative circumstances and discomfort, and then move upstream toward our goals.

– These companies and individuals operate out of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to take risk. Without faith, it is impossible to make investments of time and effort in the present hoping for a future reward. And without faith, it is impossible to make short-term sacrifices on a consistent basis. Faith allows you to be free to give and be your best, knowing the reward will manifest itself sometime in the future. Faith also allows you to find the opportunity often disguised in the form of a problem or challenge. While others are “missing it” or spending their time and energy complaining, the person/company of faith is identifying and seizing new opportunities.

Question: How do you rate yourself in these five areas? Much of where you find yourself today could be directly related to how well you have fared the past few years in regards to the five points. The good news is that today is a new day, a new opportunity.

Remember, now is your time, the time to work on yourself, your relationships, your business, etc., and then to attract all the success outcomes you deserve. While you create the new you, look at every challenge you face as an opportunity to “create” new and better outcomes.

Life is full of opportunities—go for them!

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Part Four—Business Relationships

This month we are exploring the secrets of successful relationships, and are seeking to understand what ingredients make healthy relationships in our lives. We are looking at four main areas:

Basics of Healthy Relationships. There are certain fundamentals that, if mastered, will take you down the road of healthy relationships. The key to understanding relationships is that relationships involve people. And while every person is different, there are general principles that make most people tick. If we understand these basics or fundamentals and operate accordingly, we can make our bad relationships good and our good relationships great. We covered these basics three weeks ago.

Family and Spousal Relationships. The primary relationships most people have are with their family. Yes, that wonderful enigma we call family, those deep and meaningful relationships that can bring the highlights—and the lowlights—of life. That group of people, many of whom we didn’t even get to choose, who will walk through this life with us. Your family relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship growing and flourishing. We discussed how to have great family and spousal relationships two weeks ago.

Friendships. Second to family, friends are the most important relationships we have. Friendships are unique because they are the relationships we have that are almost entirely voluntary. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings, but you do get to choose your friends. So many times, we find these relationships provide matchless dynamics not found in our other relationships. These can, in their own special way, enhance our other relationships, making these friendships especially unique. We took a deeper look into successful friendships last week.

Business Relationships. Many people don’t understand how powerful relationships are in business. You’ve heard me say it before, but you cannot succeed by yourself. It is hard to find a rich hermit. So many times, we underestimate this unique dynamic and the potential it has to take us to new levels in our businesses. We may understand that family and friends are about relationships, but mistakenly think “business is business.” The fact is, even in business, relationships rule. Think for a moment about two salespeople: one is a friend and one you’ve never met. When it comes right down to it, you are most likely to buy from the one you know. That is the foundation of relationships. Today we will look at how to have great business relationships.

To begin, I want to give you three goals of healthy business relationships and then six aspects of healthy business relationships.

First, the three goals of healthy business relationships.

Honor the value of the other party. The primary goal we should have in any relationship, even in business, is to honor the innate value of each person or party involved. Every person has tremendous value, and in the midst of our interactions with them, we should remember that and act with the utmost respect for them, showing them they are valued and important. If our business degrades the value of another human being, it is no longer an honorable business. People are important, no matter who they are, and we should treat as such.

Produce a profit for each party. Business should be good for each party. This doesn’t mean each person should make the same amount—that would be socialism—but we should be capitalistic in our approach and profit, while at the same time being good people who make sure deals are fair, honorable and a win-win for everyone involved. At its core, producing a profit means touching something and leaving it better than you found it. Each party, in a long-lasting business relationship, should be able to take home a profit. We should structure our businesses in such a way that will enable us to sustain long-term business relationships.

Create value for each party and for the consumer. Not only should each person and party understand and know their own value, but the consumer should have an excellent product or service available to them. There is something inherently good about providing goods and services that are excellent. We should never say, “Well, it doesn’t matter if the product is good; they will buy it anyway.” They may buy it, but that doesn’t mean it is right for you to sell it. One of the goals of healthy business relationships is to work together to provide value not only for each party, but for the customer as well.

Now, let’s take a look at what I consider to be six important aspects of business relationships.

Always act with integrity. The key to all relationships, including business relationships, is to act with integrity at all times. Don’t pull one over on a client in order to get the sale. Dishonest people may get the first sale, but they don’t get any more after the client figures out they acted without integrity. Those who act with integrity build lifelong clients who help build their businesses.

Create win-win relationships and opportunities. Many people go into business with the sole goal of “getting the sale.” Whatever they need to do, however they need to convince someone, they will do whatever it takes—they want to win! Unfortunately, this is extremely shortsighted. Those who develop long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are those who win, but they also make sure their business partners win, too. They make sure that in every relationship everyone is satisfied, because when people aren’t satisfied, they will probably back out of the relationship. And what’s powerful is that when you do more than expected and you deliver more than promised, you are making an investment in your future and the future success of that business relationship.

Be loyal beyond price. We live in a world that is increasingly focused on the bottom line. Now, don’t get me wrong, we need to get a good and fair price for what we buy and sell, but there is more to consider than price. Sometimes a business relationship will have to raise prices on you. That’s OK, if it is fair and justified. At this point, many people let the relationship go and look elsewhere, but I have found it’s best to remain loyal as long as you can when you are in a good relationship. Good business relationships are hard to find and they take time to develop, so don’t look just at the bottom line.

Give—don’t take. It is important to be a giver and not a taker. If you are more of a taker than a giver, you aren’t really a part of the network but just a “hanger-on.” If you have the resources or know someone who does, share with others. This makes you a valuable asset in the network, and someone people will want involved and active in the network.

Succeed at what you do. If you are successful in what you do, you will be sought out. Successful people want to connect and do business with other successful people. They will want you in their network. Do the best you can, accomplish as much as you can, and watch your network become all that you want it to be!

Keep records. Keep a list of names, dates, phone numbers and addresses—anything to help you remember people beyond just their business. This way, you can drop them a note on their birthday or when their alma mater wins a big game. This kind of attention to business relationships goes a long way, and nowadays has become a lost art. So, pay attention to the little details that so many people miss and take the opportunity to keep that “personal touch” in your business relationships, and watch your relationships soar to a whole-new level of success!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

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F Is For Friends

Welcome back! What a great week we will have!

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Jim writes in The Seasons of Life that spring is a time of resurgence—new beginnings and new opportunities. Similarly, today, regardless of the past, we all have new opportunities to become who we desire in our heart and mind to be—the husband or wife, the parent, the employee or employer, the friend (the focus of today’s edition). We have the opportunity to experience the health and vitality we deserve, to have the boldness and clarity to challenge stagnation or mistakes from the past. In essence, we have the chance to start fresh again today and throughout the year.

It’s hard to believe we are already on Week 20. We trust you are experiencing growth and shifts in your vision, thinking and actions. If you’re behind in the program, that’s OK—just start today with this week’s lesson. Remember, we’re looking for the diamond or thought or concept each week meant uniquely for us and our situation. You’ve already enrolled—made a commitment—and that’s 70 percent of the victory. Now let each week provide an insight or change that will help take you toward your desired outcome.

Life is full of opportunities. You are a winner—go for it!

Part Three—Friendships

This month, we are exploring the secrets of successful relationships and seeking to understand what the ingredients to healthy relationships are. Ultimately, one person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.

We will look at four main areas:

Basics of Healthy Relationships. There are certain fundamentals that, if mastered, will take you down the road of healthy relationships. The key to understanding relationships is that relationships involve people. And while every person is different, there are general principles that make most people tick. If we understand these basics or fundamentals and operate accordingly, we can make our bad relationships good and our good relationships great. We covered these basics two weeks ago.

Family and Spousal Relationships. The primary relationships most people have are with their family. Yes, that wonderful enigma we call family, those deep and meaningful relationships that can bring the highlights—and the lowlights—of life. That group of people, many of whom we didn’t even get to choose, who will walk through this life with us. Your family relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship growing and flourishing. We discussed how to have great family and spousal relationships last week.

Friendships. Second to family, friends are the most important relationships we have. Friendships are unique because they are the relationships we have that are almost entirely voluntary. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings, but you do get to choose your friends. So many times, we find these relationships provide matchless dynamics not found in our other relationships. These can, in their own special way, enhance our other relationships, making these friendships especially unique. We will take a deeper look into successful friendships this week.

Business Relationships. Many people don’t understand how powerful relationships are in business. You’ve heard me say it before, but you cannot succeed by yourself. It is hard to find a rich hermit. So many times, we underestimate this unique dynamic and the potential it has to take us to new levels in our businesses. We may understand that family and friends are about relationships, but mistakenly think “business is business.” The fact is, even in business, relationships rule. Think for a moment about two salespeople: one is a friend and one you’ve never met. When it comes right down to it, you are most likely to buy from the one you know. That is the foundation of relationships. Next week, we will look at how to have great business relationships.

This week we take a closer look at the importance of friendships.

As I mentioned earlier, friendships are the second-most important relationships we have in life, second only to family relationships. We do well to place a high emphasis on friendships and their positive role in our lives.

Here are some important thoughts on finding and developing lifelong friendships.

Choose your friends wisely. Remember, your associations, your friends, have an effect on you. The character flaws that your friends exhibit, if you spend much time with them, will inevitably begin to work their way into your life. An old proverb says, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” Your friends will be the primary influencers of who you are. Understand that there are two parts to influence: influence is powerful and influence is subtle. You might not let your friends push you off course, but you might let them nudge you off course and not even realize it. So pick good ones. It is also true that if we surround ourselves with good friends, we will see their positive aspects rub off on us as well and make us better people because they are in our lives. So surround yourself with people who have something of value to share with you. The impact can be significant.

Commit time to your friendships. One thing I have noticed is that we tend to go through stages in life where the pendulum swings too far in one direction. One example of this is when people get married, they tend to spend very little time with their friends as individuals. Now, of course our families should take priority, but many times we end up neglecting friendships that could and should be meaningful and beneficial to our lives. No matter what your time commitments, whether work or family, be sure to set aside time on a regular basis for your friends. If you are married, both of you should give the other time to spend with friends. Your partner will be better off, as will your marriage. You will also set a good example for children who need to see healthy adult friendships.

Balance fun times with meaningful times. Friendships have a tendency to be centered on entertainment or fun, especially for men—going to sporting events or doing outdoor activities. Those are good, but they also need to be balanced with making sure we have good, challenging and meaningful times, too—good discussions and thoughtful times. This is what rounds out relationships and friendships. Now we know the opposite is sometimes true with marriage relationships—we get so tied up in the mundane or the “important” that we often forget to have fun. So monitor your friendships and make sure you are getting everything you can from them.

Remain loyal. So many times we let friendships go too easily, yet the best relationships are those that last for long periods of time and remain through tough times and good times. Too many people today have a tendency to avoid their friends who are going through hard times, but I believe we become better people by remaining loyal. This is character building at its finest. Now, sometimes your friends will not be loyal to you, but you can remain loyal, because it’s not based on their loyalty, it is simply a decision. Plus, there is something good that happens when you stick it out. Now, obviously, I’m not saying to support harmful or illegal behavior—that is an entirely different subject and would require different guidelines. But, in general, when times are hard, be loyal. When friends aren’t loyal, be loyal.

Let your friends be resources. Our friends are tremendous resources, and they have so much to offer us. They have strengths we don’t have. They have insights we don’t. Too often, we have these tremendous resources around us and we fail to get all that we can from them. Now, make sure this is a reciprocal benefit and that you are bringing your best to the friendship as well. So often we try to do it on our own, when we could have others help us shoulder the load. Go to your friends and ask for their help and insights. Let them help you.

Care for your friends. One of the things that has happened in our highly mobile society is we have lost our ability to care for those around us. In the past, people lived in the same neighborhoods for decades; everyone knew each other and cared for each other and their children. When someone was sick, the neighborhood pitched in and helped out. This falls to families most of the time, but now many families live thousands of miles away from one another. Therefore, friends are the ones who can do such a great service for one another by providing that net of care around each other. Life is tough sometimes, and we need good people around us to help out. This is, as the saying goes, what friends are for.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

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Family And Relationships

This week, we take a closer look at what can be some of the most challenging, yet rewarding, relationships we ever experience in our lives: family, children and spousal relationships.

Like us, most of you tend to be ambitious and motivated individuals. And contrary to many perceptions, this means you are also desirous of having loving and caring relationships—and you usually do. In other words, the qualities you possess related to growing, improving and being your best in business are also great qualities to have in any relationship. Interestingly, a frequent occurrence for the entrepreneurial, self-motivated individual in relationships is the tendency for mates and family members to balance each other out. If you tend to get overly excited or have strong opinions, you might find those closest to you balance that by backing off a bit or being more conservative in their opinions. For example, this might come into play in regards to disciplining your children. When one parent is being especially strict, it might be the other parent’s inclination to feel the need to nurture more. Or if one is having an “anything goes” type of day with the kids, then the other parent may then desire more structure. The same can be true in how it relates to your work. When you really pour it on or are extremely focused, you might be met with less motivation or support from your family. This can be extremely frustrating for both sides—you feel unappreciated and they feel left out. The reality, though, is that you are appreciated and they are not left out, but sometimes things move too far out of balance and a reaction occurs.

So the key point for any of you driven, motivated types in regards to this scenario is to not let things get too far out of balance. Your heart might be at home, but you are at the office. So, in order for your significant relationships to truly be successful, you need to invest your heart, head and time into them. As you do this, you will receive the support and understanding that will help you create the results you are seeking in your business life.

Special Audio Bonus! John Gray, the author of 15 best-selling books, including Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, goes Beyond Mars and Venus and gives fresh advice for building lasting, loving relationships, and offers ways to effectively manage stress and improve relationships at all stages and ages.

Have a great week and enjoy the journey!

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Relationships, Part Two—Family and Spousal Relationships

This month, we are exploring the secrets of successful relationships and seeking to understand what the ingredients to healthy relationships are. Ultimately, one person caring about another represents life’s greatest value. We will look at four main areas:

Basics of Healthy Relationships. There are certain fundamentals that, if mastered, will take you down the road of healthy relationships. The key to understanding relationships is that relationships involve people. And while every person is different, there are general principles that make most people tick. If we understand these basics or fundamentals and operate accordingly, we can make our bad relationships good and our good relationships great. We covered these basics last week.

Family and Spousal Relationships. The primary relationships most people have are with their family. Yes, that wonderful enigma we call family, those deep and meaningful relationships that can bring the highlights—and the lowlights—of life. That group of people, many of whom we didn’t even get to choose, who will walk through this life with us. Your family relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship growing and flourishing. We will discuss how to have great family and spousal relationships today.

Friendships. Second to family, friends are the most important relationships we have. Friendships are unique because they are the relationships we have that are almost entirely voluntary. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings, but you do get to choose your friends. So many times, we find these relationships provide matchless dynamics not found in our other relationships. These can, in their own special way, enhance our other relationships, making these friendships especially unique. We will take a deeper look into successful friendships next week.

Business Relationships. Many people don’t understand how powerful relationships are in business. You’ve heard me say it before, but you cannot succeed by yourself. It is hard to find a rich hermit. So many times, we underestimate this unique dynamic and the potential it has to take us to new levels in our businesses. We may understand that family and friends are about relationships, but mistakenly think “business is business.” The fact is, even in business, relationships rule. Think for a moment about two salespeople: one is a friend and one you’ve never met. When it comes right down to it, you are most likely to buy from the one you know. That is the foundation of relationships. In two weeks, we will look at how to have great business relationships.

Last week, I gave you some of the basics of healthy relationships. This week, I want to review five of the eight basics and apply them specifically to the relationships we have with our spouses and children. We will take love, a serving heart, honest communication, patience and fun and give you specific examples of how to apply them to these very important relationships.

First, however, a word about relationships. People are not perfect. I am certainly not perfect. As I mentioned in last week’s e-mail, relationships provide both the best times and the hardest times we experience in our lives. With that in mind, as I go through these, understand there is room for growth. If you have had broken relationships in your past, while unfortunate, it is OK. We can move forward. We can experience reconciliation and restoration. Life does not have to end for us. Hopefully what happens is that we learn and grow and make our next relationships healthier and more secure than those before. This week, as we look at these aspects of relationships, keep that in mind. It isn’t how perfect you have been in the past that counts, but how well you can do now and in the future that will provide you with the kind of relationships you are looking for.

In each of the following, I will make specific comments for both healthy relationships with your spouse and your children. My assumption for the sake of this lesson will be for children under 18 years of age. Later in this edition, though, I do have a note for those of you with adult children about how to make the most of those relationships. Now, let’s get started.

Love
Spouse—You have probably heard the old joke about the man whose wife says to him, “Honey, how come you don’t tell me you love me anymore?” And he answers, “I told you I loved you when we got married and that has never changed.” Well, it doesn’t work that way! We can’t assume that our spouse knows—or feels—that we love them. Part of marriage is making sure we are continually expressing love to our spouse. Several years ago, a best-selling book discussed the idea that we all have our own unique “love” language. That is, people are more able to interpret your love better when you “speak” their love language. For example, your spouse may respond best when told verbally that you love him or her. Verbal affirmation may be their primary love language. Another love language is time spent with the other person. You may tell your spouse that you love her, but what she really wants is for you to spend time with her. I would encourage you to pursue this idea more. The book I’m referring to above is The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. I would encourage you to pick it up and read it.

Children—Love is the greatest gift you can give your children. This world we live in can be so mixed up at times, and with the tenuousness it often gives off, our children need the absolute, unconditional love of their parents. So much of what children grow up to become is based on the love they feel and experience from their parents. The love of a parent is foundational for developing healthy, well-rounded children who grow up to be healthy, well-rounded adults and productive members of society.

A Serving Heart
Spouse—As I begin to approach the later stages of life and look back not only on my own life but also at the lives of others with whom I am involved, I see more and more the need for a serving heart to be central in the life of anyone who is or is going to be married. Unfortunately, all too many people marry with the idea that the other person exists to make them happy. In reality, when we get married, we are making a commitment to serve the other person. Our hearts must be selflessly devoted to that principle if we are to make it work. Imagine what a powerful marriage it would be if each person made it their first commitment to serve the other. Now this only works if both make that commitment, otherwise one person feels taken advantage of. But when both people come from the perspective that they are going to devote their life to the other, watch out!

Now let me give you a word of caution here. When I say each person devotes their life to the other, I don’t mean that a person should lose their identity or compromise the essence of who they are to the other person for the “sake” of the relationship. We must each bring our wholeness, our talents, our uniqueness of personality and giftings, because that is vital to a healthy, successful relationship. You’ve heard me say , I’ll take care of me for you and you take care of you for me. It’s the subtle balance of respecting and loving myself enough to take care of me for the betterment of a relationship. When I’m a healthy individual, how much more can I bring to and invest in a relationship than if, as I said earlier, I am wrongly looking for someone else to make me happy? So take the time to invest in caring for yourself and bringing the best of you to a relationship so that you can pour all your joy, caring and uniqueness into the other person. What a miraculous process to engage in, and what an incredible gift to give to not only the other person, but also to yourself!

Children—One of the best examples we can give to our children is one of service. Are we willing to serve our children? When they are very young, the choice is an easy one—we feed them, change their diapers, etc., because they are completely dependent upon us. As they get older, though, imagine the impact we can have on them and the example we set for them when we are willing to serve them and look out for their needs. Now, here again, when I say serve them, I don’t mean that you should do everything for them, thus fostering helplessness in them. But when they ask for our help or the opportunity presents itself for us to selflessly serve them in ways that teach them to serve others, we should capitalize on these moments. You heard me say it last week, but I strongly believe that one person caring for another represents one of life’s greatest values.

Honest Communication
Spouse—If you are married, you know how difficult communication can be (even if you aren’t married, you know this!). Life can get pretty busy, especially when you have children. Soon your communication is reduced to things like, “What’s for dinner?” and “Who’s picking the kids up from soccer?” If we aren’t careful, that becomes the bulk of our communication. In fact, the deepest conversation you may end up having is, “We should really sit down and communicate sometime.” No, a couple must make it a habit and a practice to spend time together regularly to communicate on a deeper level. Some good ideas I have seen work well include a “date night” where the couple gets a sitter if necessary and they go out every week—or two weeks, etc., it doesn’t matter as long as it is a regular occurrence. The key here is to schedule time when you can open up to your spouse and talk about all of the meaningful things that would otherwise slip away in a busy schedule. This is so important! Don’t neglect to connect with the person you love and invest the valuable time to continue cultivating potentially one of the most rewarding relationships in your life.

Children—Communication is key for children, too. Unfortunately, the status quo is often a caricature of a busy dad hiding behind his paper as his son asks to spend time with him. Kids need to talk. They need someone to listen. They need our time. They need honest communication. They need adults who will tell them the truth about life and how it works. Kids will learn about life one way or another. The question parents need to ask themselves is whether they want their kids to learn about life from them or from someone else. We need to do more than prepare our enterprises for the challenges of the future. More important, we need to equip our children to face the challenges of their future. If you talk to your children, you can help them keep their lives together. But even better than that, if you talk to them skillfully, you can help them build their future dreams. Taking the time to communicate with your kids is key, especially communicating love to them. Never underestimate this powerful foundation.

Patience
Spouse—As I mentioned in my opening comments, people are not perfect. They make mistakes; they blow it. Sometimes they might purposefully do wrong things. I don’t know why this is, but it happens. This is why we must have patience with people. If we can’t have patience with people, we are bound to be less able to develop long-lasting and healthy relationships. This is especially true with those in our families. Think about it. If a friend starts getting on your nerves, you would probably just wait until he goes home. But not so with your spouse! You live with them! This is why patience, combined with communication and love, is so important.

Children—As we all know, we need a lot of patience with children! They start out knowing virtually nothing about the world or how to do anything in it, and as parents, we are given the task of teaching them s-l-o-w-l-y, it seems, how to do things! Kids can ask a million questions, and just when you think they are through, they ask a million more. And the funny thing is, once they learn how to do things, all of a sudden, they act as though they were born with the knowledge and they don’t need us anymore. Yes, it requires a lot of patience, but let me assure you they are worth every ounce we can give them. They bring so much joy into our lives, and, yes, eventually they come to realize they aren’t smarter than us after all—though they don’t realize it until about age 25. So be patient, and know that all of your hard work will indeed pay off in the end.

Fun
Spouse—Do you remember how much fun you had when you were dating? Lots, wasn’t it? Then life happened—work to do, mortgages to pay, children to raise. It is easy to forget to have fun with your life partner, but this is so important! We should spend and create some fun times with our spouse in the midst of the work. One specific way I would encourage you, especially the men who read this, is to make your fun times just that—fun times. When you go on vacation, leave work at home. Make it fun. Spend time with your spouse and family. Have fun and relax. Enjoy yourself. Then, when you get back to work, you can work as hard as you want/need to.

Children—Kids are all about fun, aren’t they? They always want to play, or wrestle or do something fun. Unfortunately, sometimes we adults take ourselves too seriously, let the cares of the world weigh us down and find it hard to play with our children—to “let our hair down,” as the saying goes. Well, let me encourage you to spend some time just having fun with your children. There are times you must teach, and there are times you must discipline, but there is equal need for you to have some good old-fashioned fun with them as well. They will remember and cherish those memories for a long time.

A note for those of you with adult children: Here is my best advice for keeping your relationships with them healthy.

Don’t support them financially. You can support them emotionally, and you should, but eventually they need to go support themselves. The root of most dysfunction is often over-dependence on others. When someone is 28 years old, they should already have at least a few years on their own. Anything less, and you hinder their development as healthy, self-sustaining people.

Keep your nose out of their business unless asked. That’s right. They are adults now. They aren’t children. If you did your job right while they were growing up, they should be fully capable of living life out of the wisdom, knowledge and skills you taught them. It is their life to live. If they ask you for advice, then tender it in humility. The worst thing you can do in your relationships with your grown children is to try and control them and second-guess their decisions.

Love them and treat them as you would adult friends. They aren’t children anymore. They are not 8 years old. Your relationship has evolved. You should interact with them the same way you would with your best friends now. Yes, they are still your children, but the way we interact changes as they get older.

Reach out to help them with their children. You remember how hard it was raising kids, don’t you? Well, now you can not only help them, but you can involve yourself with your grandchildren and make a significant impact in their lives as well! Be a proactive grandparent. I guarantee that if you call your children and offer to watch their kids while they go away for the weekend, they will take you up on it. They will think you are the hero, and you will have another cherished opportunity with your grandkids!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

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Basics Of A Healthy Relationship

Welcome to Week 18 of  N.J.W Blog! We hope you are having a great week and are ready for this week’s journey.

This week, we begin our new topic—Relationships, which is obviously one of the most vital, yet complex, areas of human life.

The amazing thing is that most of the changes, skills, habits, thoughts, beliefs, etc., that we’re being encouraged and reminded of during our one-year journey fall under the “free” and “easy” category that we have always taught and we have touched on the past several weeks.

How free and easy is it to:

Smile at others?
Listen better?
Be friendly?
Be encouraging?
Not judge?

Speaking of not judging, strategic coach Jim Sharp says to stay as neutral as possible when it comes to relating to others, especially when communicating. He says to never make it personal or take it personally, which is solid advice for achieving good, clear communication. Like Jim says, “Attack the problem, not the person.” Obviously, as with everything, there are exceptions. But by following this rule, you can eliminate much of the negativity that can be created or experienced in relationships, which often starts over seemingly trivial comments or events.

For many of you, the “free” and “easy” list above might come easily, or you may have already mastered it. But for others of us, we will continue to try and make this area of our lives a much-needed priority and place to improve.

There’s a powerful month lined up for you that will cover the four parts of relationships.

Basics of Healthy Relationships
Family and Spousal Relationships
Friendships
Business Relationships

Let’s embrace the process of change and improvement in our relationships. The results are immediate in many instances, and the long-term fruit is inevitable.

Enjoy the journey!

N.J.W Blog

Relationships, Part One—Basics of Healthy Relationships

I’ve come to the realization that everything we do is based on relationships. Relationships make the world go ‘round. We buy out of relationships, wars are fought over broken relationships, we have children because of relationships—every single thing that takes place on this planet is an extension of and is driven by relationships. In relationships, we can experience the peaks of ecstasy and the valleys of agony. They have the greatest potential to give us joy, cause us to grow and become more, if we choose.

This month, we will explore the secrets of successful relationships and seek to understand what the ingredients to healthy relationships are. Ultimately, one person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.

We will look at four main areas:

Basics of Healthy Relationships. There are certain fundamentals that, if mastered, will take you down the road of healthy relationships. The key to understanding relationships is that relationships involve people. And while every person is different, there are general principles that make most people tick. If we understand these basics or fundamentals and operate accordingly, we can make our bad relationships good and our good relationships great. We will cover these basics in this edition.

Family and Spousal Relationships. The primary relationships most people have are with their family. Yes, that wonderful enigma we call family, those deep and meaningful relationships that can bring the highlights—and the lowlights—of life. That group of people, many of whom we didn’t even get to choose, who will walk through this life with us. Your family relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship growing and flourishing. We will discuss how to have great family and spousal relationships in next week’s edition.

Friendships. Second to family, friends are the most important relationships we have. Friendships are unique because they are the relationships we have that are almost entirely voluntary. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings, but you do get to choose your friends. So many times, we find these relationships provide matchless dynamics not found in our other relationships. These can, in their own special way, enhance our other relationships, making these friendships especially unique. We will take a deeper look into successful friendships in two weeks.

Business Relationships. Many people don’t understand how powerful relationships are in business. You’ve heard me say it before, but you cannot succeed by yourself. It is hard to find a rich hermit. So many times, we underestimate this unique dynamic and the potential it has to take us to new levels in our businesses. We may understand that family and friends are about relationships, but mistakenly think “business is business.” The fact is, even in business, relationships rule. Think for a moment about two salespeople: one is a friend and one you’ve never met. When it comes right down to it, you are most likely to buy from the one you know. That is the foundation of relationships. In three weeks, we will look at how to have great business relationships.

The Basics of Healthy Relationships

Nothing can bring more joy to life than beautifully fulfilling relationships. The depth of meaning, understanding and appreciation these kinds of relationships bring is almost unfathomable. And, of course, as many people find out, nothing can bring so much pain as a broken relationship with someone dear to you.

Yes, relationships make the world go ‘round, for better or for worse. But the exciting thing is that we can do much to increase our chances of having terrific relationships, relationships that are fulfilling and exciting, rich with meaning, joy and love.

There are basics that govern most human relationships, and these basics are what I want to cover below. So, here is my list of the eight essentials that I believe make up the basics of healthy relationships.

Love. Now, this all depends on your definition of love. Most people think that love is a feeling, but I would strongly debate this point. Actually, the concept of “like” is really about feelings. When you say you like someone, you are talking about how you feel. But when you say you love someone, you are not necessarily talking about how you feel about them. Love is much deeper than a feeling. Love is a commitment we make to someone to always treat them right and honorably. Yes, for those we become especially close to, we will have feelings of love, but I believe it is time for us to reexamine what we mean by love. We must expand our definition of what love means by including the commitment aspect of love. For healthy relationships, we must love people. We may not like them based on how we feel about them, but we should love them based on our definition of love, which, in turn, determines how we act toward them. This is the basis of all healthy relationships.

Serving Heart. Zig Ziglar frequently says, “You can have everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want out of life.” He is talking about the concept of having a heart and life focused on serving other people. The Bible says to consider others’ interests as more important than your own. This is also fundamental to healthy relationships.

Honest Communication. In any good relationship, you will find open and honest communication. Communication is so important because it is the vehicle that allows us to verbalize what is inside us and enables us to connect with another person. Isn’t communication amazing? One person is feeling one thing, and through communication, another person can understand and feel it, too—amazing. This is a vital goal in good relationships—to communicate, to tell each other what we are thinking and what we are feeling. It enables us to make a connection. Sometimes we are the one speaking; other times, we are listening. Either way, the central tenet is communication for the sake of building the relationship and making it stronger. If we just communicate, we can get by; if we communicate skillfully, we can work miracles!

Friendliness. Put simply, relationships just work better when we are friendly with others. Being friendly can cushion the bumpy ride we sometimes experience in our relationships. Cheerfulness goes a long way toward building lasting relationships. I mean, nobody wants to be around a grump, do they? The fact is the friendlier you are, the more you will have people who want to pursue longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with you. So, cheer up, put on a smile, have kind words to say to others, treat people with a great deal of friendliness, and you will see your relationships improve.

Patience. People being people, we have an awful lot of time for practice in the area of patience. People are not perfect and will constantly fail us. Conversely, we will fail other people. So while we try to have more patience for others, we need their patience as well. So often, I think relationships break down because people give up and lose patience. I am talking about all kinds of friendships, marriages, business relationships, etc. Recent research has shown those marriages that go through major turmoil and make it through are even stronger after the fact. Patience wins out. Those who give up on relationships too early or because the other person isn’t perfect often forget that their next friend, their next spouse or business partner will not be perfect, either! So, we would do well to cultivate this skill and learn to have more patience.

Loyalty. Loyalty is a commitment to another person. Sadly, loyalty is often a missing element in many relationships today. Society as a whole has forgotten what it means to be loyal. Our consumer mentality has affected this to some degree. People are no longer loyal to a product. And, unfortunately, many companies are not loyal to their clients or patrons. Regrettably, this has spilled over into our relationships. It is one thing to switch brands of dishwashing detergent, but it is another thing altogether to switch friends. Sometimes, we just need to commit to being loyal and let the relationship move forward. We need a higher level of stick-to-it-iveness! This kind of loyalty will take our relationships to a much deeper level. What a powerful and secure feeling it is knowing you have a relationship with someone who is loyal to you and you to them, that neither of you are going anywhere, even when things get tough. Wow—how powerful!

A Common Purpose. One of the basics of healthy relationships is to have a common purpose, and oftentimes this is a component initially overlooked. But for a long-term, long-lasting relationship, it is vital. Think about how many friends you have met through the years while working on a common purpose. Maybe it was someone you met while participating in sports, while working on a political campaign, attending church, at your office or anything that brought you together to work on a common purpose. You had that strong common bond of purpose that brought you together and held you together. Working together, building together, failing and succeeding together, all while pursuing a common purpose—that is what relationships are made of. Find people who share your purposes, sow the seeds of great relationships, and you will reap long-lasting benefits.

Fun. All good relationships have some element of fun. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean, loud, raucous fun, though that is appropriate for some relationships. But even in business relationships, there should be some fun. It should be fun doing business with those who you are going to have a long-term business relationship with. Fun brings enjoyment to the relationship, and that is important. I think, oftentimes, this key element can be easily forgotten or neglected in our family and spousal relationships. The fun things we did initially in a new relationship can be taken for granted, or simply fall by the wayside after a while, and we stop creating the fun and joy. So remember to consciously craft fun situations and moments, because these are the glue that hold our memories together and make our lives sweet.

There are so many key ingredients to making and maintaining great, long-lasting relationships. Each of the eight components we discussed brings unique dynamics and rewards to your relationships. Let’s begin to focus on improving our relationships in these areas and see what miracles occur!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

Supplemental Notes

Here’s a good way to remember some of the basics of what Jim just talked about. There’s an acronym that can keep your mind on three important elements of relationships in your own life. It is the acronym ZIP. Here are some thoughts on how to put a little ZIP into your relationships!

Imagine there are three core elements of successful relationships. These are things that, when done over time, begin to create for you the kind of relationships you truly desire. They are the kind of relationships you have always dreamed of.

The key to remembering these three items is the ZIP acronym. ZIP stands for three things you can do—and begin to do immediately—to improve any and all of your relationships. They are:

Put some Zest into your relationships.
Cultivate more Intimacy in your relationships.
Develop a Purpose in your relationships.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these three:

Put some ZEST into your relationships.
By “zest,” we mean fun. Relationships were meant to be fun! We wouldn’t have this capacity to have fun if relationships weren’t supposed to have a little zest in them!

Think about it: Don’t you usually start out most healthy relationships with a lot of fun times? Whether it is going out to dinner or a ballgame, or spending time playing a game, or even just a lively talk, you usually have fun as a major part of the relationship. Fun is some of the glue that bonds the relationship.

However, as life goes on, specifically in a marriage, but potentially in most relationships, really, the fun starts to go by the wayside. More and more, the relationship becomes about getting the job done, whatever the job may be.

To restore the relationship, to put a little zip into it, we need to reintroduce the idea of “zest.”

What about you? Have you lost the zest? What can you do to get it back? Think of a specific relationship you have: What were the fun things you did at the beginning of the relationship that acted as the glue that bonded you together? Now, commit to doing those again, and see if your relationship doesn’t begin to soar again! If you can, develop new fun things to do together so that you can both start an adventure of fun together!

Cultivate more INTIMACY in your relationships.
First, a couple of clarifications: One, we don’t just mean intimacy in the common term of sexual intimacy. For all intents and purposes, we mean taking your relationship to a deeper level. Second, we don’t mean that you have to start doing group hugs with your workmates or having revelation sessions where the tissues flow freely.

Every mutually satisfying relationship has a level of depth to it that provides meaning. This is really what the search is for in our relationships: meaning.

Remember when you started your relationship, whether with your spouse or friend. All that time was spent opening up, telling who you are, where you were from, and talking about your likes and dislikes. There was a deep sense of satisfaction with the relationship; that is why it continued. You liked who they were and you enjoyed being known by them.

Then something happens. We get to a certain level, and the pursuit of depth ends. We stop sharing feelings, likes and dislikes. We stop sharing joys and dreams and fears. Instead, we settle into routines. The daily grind takes over, and we stop knowing one another and simply exist together. Now, don’t get us wrong, every time you get together doesn’t have to be deep. But there is a need for regular times of intimate connection where we go deeper with others.

Truly meaningful relationships come when we are loved and accepted for who we are at our core, not simply for acting in such a way to keep the other person in the relationship.

Think about the relationships you would like to see improve. Take some time in the coming weeks and months to spend time just talking and getting to a deeper level in your relationships. Specifically, let the other person deeper into your world. You can’t force the other person to be more intimate, and you certainly can’t say, “Let’s get together and have an intimate conversation,” because that would be too contrived. But you can make a decision for yourself to let others into your world. Perhaps this will be the catalyst for them doing the same.

You can either guard yourself from intimacy and not go much deeper and feel a longing in your heart for more, or you can begin the deepening process and see your relationships change for the better.

Develop a PURPOSE in your relationships.
The most meaningful relationships we have are those held together by a common purpose and vision for what the relationship can accomplish, not only for those involved, but also for a greater good.

Let’s face it: When people have a common purpose, they feel like they are part of a team and they feel bound together in that relationship. Even when people experience disappointment in the people they are in relationship with, if they have a purpose, such as raising children, they are much more likely to stick it out. Purpose creates bonds.

So what happens if we are proactively involved in seeking out a common purpose with those we want a relationship with or those with whom we already have a relationship, but would like to see it go to a deeper level? Well, it gets better and stronger.

Think about your strongest relationships. Aren’t they centered around at least one area of purpose or a common goal?

What about a relationship that has cooled? Think back and see if perhaps you used to have a common purpose that has gone by the wayside.

What of your desire to see a relationship grow? Take some time to begin cultivating a common purpose. Sit down with that person and tell them you would like to have some common goals, some purposes that you can pursue together. As you develop these, you will see your relationship strengthen in ways you never imagined!

Let’s recap: You want your relationships to show a little “zip”? Then put a little ZIP in them:

Put some Zest into your relationships.
Cultivate more Intimacy in your relationships.
Develop a Purpose in your relationships.