Basket Envy

Have you seen it at Costco? It’s almost a sport. People peek over the top of others’ overstuffed shopping carts… on the way IN and on the way OUT! On the way IN they’re saying, “What do I need to look for once I get in?” On the way OUT, they say (I’ve actually heard it), “Oh Honey, look what we missed!” It’s a metaphor for life these days. “Hey, fella, what do you have in your basket that I might want? What am I missing?” Both feed Social Media. What if you miss out today?

What if you do? So what?

Indeed SO WHAT? Don’t succumb to basket envy. You can catch it later.

Decision Making

TOO MANY CHOICES

The ThinkerWhether it’s business, our health, or our insurance policies, the problem is the same. We have too many choices. Result:  We don’t choose. We do nothing at all. We’re exhausted and we’re paralyzed.

Here are three folks who can tell us why we are not happier, and not smarter and not better off with more choices.

  • Barry Schwartz, Ph.D. writes and speaks on The Paradox of Choice. (2004)
  • Malcolm Gladwell author of  Outliers and Tipping Point in his 2004 TED Talk.
  • Sheena Iyengar Ph.D. writes and speaks on The Art of Choosing, (2010). The book discusses “relationship between choice and freedom — one doesn’t always go with the other.”

What to do about it? Simplify. Boil it down to three.

Choose From the Top Three:  Make every decision—as difficult as it is—a choice among three things. Why? Because we don’t have time for more. We can only handle three. It forces us to seriously consider the most important three. It requires conscious choice and a modicum of analysis. There is usually not an advantage in over-analyzing.

Here’s what you get from choosing three: A momentum that will not get mired in the sludge of too many choices. Too many choices paralyze us.

To move forward, to move at all, whittle it down to three.

What if you’re wrong? The beauty is… You will know sooner rather than later.

Make It Easy: Make it easy for yourself and your clients to make decisions. They can handle three. More than that and you risk their not making a choice at all. You risk losing the sale.

And for yourself, you risk not moving forward. Stuck is stuck. Like a statue. Don’t be.

 

What Would I Tell a 22-Year-Old Today?

Fail fast and often.

IMG_0044Everyone your age gets lots of advice. And you’re not even asking for it, are you? Well, here’s the deal: when you ask for advice, you’re pretty much tapping into the stuff you already know, deep down inside at the gut level. You know it. Yes. You know it.

Here are five things I’d like to tell you. It’s a short list—so I hope you’ll read it.

  1. Be kind.
  2. Fail fast and often (like Michael Jordan!).
  3. Read (or listen) voraciously.
  4. Smile widely.
  5. Don’t forget to have fun.

We could go on for paragraphs. Write books (there are lots). And make long speeches. But those are the five that matter today. If you want my advice, see what books, speeches, podcasts, and  TED talks exist to expand on each of these ideas. Or not. Just having these five to think about should do it.

P.S. If you’re not 22, it’s okay. You might also consider the five suggestions above.

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

Clutter

ClutClutterter. It was everywhere I looked. I spent a day (a whole day!) fighting it off, but it rolled right back in like a peeping-Tom wave to a nude beach.

This phenomenon is known in family circles as the “clutter factor (CF).” Here’s the formula:

CF = 

(Number of people in the living unit) to a factor of pack-rat lineage 


(The volume of the clutter container)

Screw the math: If you buy too much stuff, never get rid of it, work and/or go to school, and have a lot of busy people under one roof, your Clutter Factor is high. My husband said I obsessed over it, but then, I saw it, he didn’t. (Neither did the boys.)

When the kids were home, my husband and kids focused on their work, their studies, their music, and their hobbies. I worked, too, but I railed at the insufferable encroachment of detritus as the work/school week wore on. On Monday, it seeped in the back door; by Tuesday, it washed through the living area; Wednesday found it sloshing into the bathrooms; and on Thursday, it surged into the bedrooms. By Friday, we were neck deep in it, barely able to crane our necks above it to carry on a conversation. Newspapers, laundry, homework, music, bills, projects, books, invitations, purchases, and pets whirled and spun through the churning sea of our busy lives. Weekends sighed in hopes of stemming the tide. Sometimes they succeeded. Sometimes they didn’t.

The Clutter Factor had (and still has) a companion that lurks shamefully in my very own personality. This sin sister is what I call the “Project Factor.” I own this one. I have three to five projects besides work on the front burners at all times – volunteer stuff, hobbies, things to write, things to read, and more. Because all of these contain anxious due dates, their associated files and piles dot the house like seagulls at a picnic. I am a contributor to the clutter! There, I said it.

To overcome the reprehensible clutter side of myself, I invoked my alter ego, “Buffy the Clutter Slayer”— who is still alive and well. Buffy wields trash sacks and Goodwill bags, and tears as if possessed through the house. Her ruling mantra: “If I Cat_Clutterhaven’t seen it move in the last five minutes, it’s clutter and it’s history.”   We lost a cat one year. She was too slow.

One summer, Buffy and I cleaned out the garage in a flurry of self-righteous de-cluttering. My family didn’t speak to either of us for three weeks after that: Buffy threw out their valuable stuff that they hadn’t used since we had moved in. Buffy wanted to move. I said we had to stay. Good lord, we’d have to corral the stuff and box it. I didn’t have the energy!

Here’s the deal: Our clutter defined us, and tried to control us, but with Buffy around, it shouldn’t defeat us. Some days, I actually reveled in our clutter: it told me we were busy and doing. I didn’t trust people whose houses were too clean: they weren’t supporting the American economy, I’d argue.

The very next day as I looked across the burgeoning heaps, I grabbed myself by the collar, pulled myself just an inch or so off the ground and said, “Civilized people don’t live this way.” I strained toward civility as Buffy cleaned out a drawer. I wondered if I would ever live a Spartan, monkish existence, wearing a robe with no underwear, and murmuring all day. I wondered if that would make me happy. Probably not. I wondered if it would be okay to have at least one clean room. One? Okay, I’ll take a closet. No? Then, give me a drawer. I’ll take anything.

It’s a lot of stuff!

Those days are gone. Well almost. The kids are grown and out of the house, but their clutter remains. And while it’s contained in the attic and the garage, mostly boxed with labels, waiting to move on to the next phase it’s still here! I don’t miss the clutter in the house, that’s for sure. But when we’re feeling like we need a fond reminder of what it was like to have noise and craziness filling our space, Buffy and I go up to the attic and look at what remains. It’s a lot of stuff. We sigh. And then we shake our heads, with thoughts of the cat we lost. After we clean up a little, we check to make sure our new dog is still around, we give each other a high five and walk through the house, mostly clear of clutter.

Oh… but don’t look in the guest room closet, please.

 

Saving Money

Saving Money with Freelance WritersSaving money by spending is my idea of a good time. As in, “Look how much money we saved when I bought that [fill-in-the-blank] on sale.”

Although buying something on sale to justify spending isn’t a good practice, it is the correct attitude if you really needed the item. Same thing goes for businesses. Really. Sometimes you spend money to save it. Like when you buy a machine to do work for you so that you don’t have to do the work yourself. Businesses often buy machinery to save time.  They hire a part time employee or an independent contractor so they don’t have to do the work themselves, but they don’t have to pay for benefits and keep a person busy even if there’s no work to do.  The company sees the benefits of spending money to save money.

Really SAVING MONEY is even harder.  That’s when people and companies simply do not spend it. They put it away in a bank, stuff it in the proverbial mattress. Squirrel it away in a jar or a … hmm…piggy bank or equivalent. It’s delayed gratification that is very hard to do, but the reward can be humongous. As Martha Stewart says, “It’s a good thing.” It’s more than that. It’s really good when the company loses a big customer, or if a person can’t work for a while. If that money is available, it can help avoid a bankruptcy. Or survive an emergency. The money is there, and the credit cards are not challenged to see how much they can pick up, like a heavyweight champion with buckled knees and bulging, vein-popping biceps.

Keeping the goal for the business or for a family always visible is very important. If we are conscious, we’ll hesitate before buying something we don’t need. Taking the money out of everyone’s clutches by having it withdrawn from the checking account automatically is wise for both businesses and individuals. The less liquid it is, the better. Simple savings accounts can even be tempting. Parking the money in a fund of some sort…with penalties if withdrawn, is safer. There should be a very good reason for transferring it back to spend it…an emergency. A REAL EMERGENCY.

People make budgets so they are conscious about what they spend. Businesses make budgets. Disciplined people and profitable businesses stick to them. Spend, yes. But spend wisely. Benjamin Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” He was a wise guy.

Saving money can be achieved, by the way, by hiring a professional freelance writer. We freelancers save businesses money every day by providing excellent written copy, but not adding benefit loads or overtime costs to the payroll.

Contact us today.

Image by Katie Phillips.

A Real Loser

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No one likes to lose. Winners, especially,  do not like to lose. However, not winning is not the same thing as losing.

Not winning is not the same as losing.

  1. You are only a real loser if you do not learn from your loss.
  2. You are only a real loser if you do not revel in the fact that you still have more room to grow in your chosen endeavor. 
  3. You are only a real loser if you do not want to learn from the winners.
  4. You are only a real loser if you do not question what your goals are and how hard you want to work to achieve them.
  5. You are only a real loser if you beat yourself up.
  6. You are only a real loser if you live in the loss rather than living in the present.
  7. You are only a real loser if you don’t realize that every winner has lost at one time. That’s how they get better.
  8. You are only a real loser if you don’t realize that there will always be someone better than you at some point in your life.
  9. You are only a real loser if you do not understand that you are not the loss. You are perfect. Sometimes, God has something he wants you to learn. 
  10. You are only a real loser if you do not brush yourself off and try again.

              Try again.

                 

Practice Makes Perfect

Winners AND losers practice 10,000 hours.

What does “Practice Makes Perfect” mean? Most people think it means that if you do something over and over and over, your skill (whatever it is) will be perfect. It will not, of course, but one can hope to achieve as close to perfection as possible. Piano players à la Practice Makes PerfectVladimir Horowitz, basketball players like Michael Jordan, authors, painters, gymnasts, race car drivers, surgeons, repairmen, typists, dancers—everyone that wants to excel at something—has to practice. 

Winners Practice 10,000 Hours

To come in first in a competition, to be paid for their work, and to generally reach the pinnacle of their craft or sport or profession, winners practice and continue to practice even after they’re “good.” Why do they call it a medical practice, a dental practice or a legal practice? Because those licensed professionals have to keep practicing to continue to be skilled to their high levels of satisfaction. In his 2011 book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery.

There’s a catch, though.

Losers Practice 10,000 Hours Too!

Continue reading “Practice Makes Perfect”