The Zig-Zag Strategy

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When most people ‘Zig’, try to ‘Zag’. That’s the Zig-Zag strategy – short and simple.   The idea is to try and structure your life in manner where you can do MORE of what you want to do (and what makes you happier) instead of what you’re supposed to do. If you’re forced to ZIG (move with the masses) all of the time, you’ll feel refreshed and liberated when you can ZAG (do what you want vs. what you’re conditioned to) from time to time. The key is to get creative / innovative and find these ZAG methods. Obviously, there are times in our lives when we have to do certain things – sticking to strict schedules at work, school, etc. I don’t suggest being irresponsible. But, take a moment to see where there might be opportunities to liberate yourself with some less common, less standard, less conformist methods.Read More »

A Simple Way to Expand Your Mind

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I’ve always felt that I should be reading more books, but somehow, despite the best intentions, find myself with little time to actually crack open a book and focus. I often buy books (physical and kindle books), read sporadically, make very slow progress and become frustrated knowing I’m missing so much richness by not reading more. It nags me.   Does this sounds familiar to you?   15- years ago, this posed a problem, but not any more!. Enter Audio Books and Podcasts, which offer a rich supplement (or complete alternative) to reading – something that I wish I started using sooner. Trust me — once you start accessing the libraries of audio books and podcasts, you’ll be amazed. I was.

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Leverage

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Another important life efficiency concept, distilled by Tony Robbins and others, is Leverage. Leverage is critical because, if used correctly, it frees us to spend more time doing: 1) things that we want to do and, 2) things that are simply a better use of our time. In simplest terms, leverage suggests that we reduce our own personal burdens, workloads and general time commitments by delegating to and utilizing other people and resources in our lives as much as possible. In other words, don’t constantly feel like you have to do everything yourself. Delegate, share, and diffuse the burden. Think how it might feel to reclaim some time back in your life.Read More »

Proximity

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The people we spend time with on a regular basis, or those with whom we are in close ‘proximity’, are ultimately the people that influence us the most. It’s a very simple concept, but one that has substantial repercussions (good and, at times, bad).  Some of the smartest thinkers of our times, including Tony Robbins, emphasizes this concept on a regular basis. Thankfully, we are ultimately in control of with whom we keep company and that gives us power. Think about all the applications of this in your life, and, importantly, your ability to control it. It’s very simple: if you want positive change and inspiration in your life, surround yourself with the people who embody those things (and, simultaneously, distance yourself from people who influence you in a undesirable ways).Read More »

Dinner Out vs. a Gym Membership

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If you’re anything like I was, you’d happily pay $75 for dinner out, but you might hesitate spending that for a month’s gym membership.  You’d also pay $6 for a Beer quite easily, but you’d rarely splurge for a fresh Veggie Juice for the same price?  What about paying $15 for lunch versus a drop-in Yoga class?  Ask yourself these questions and consider the irony.

The fact is that we easily, often and without much thought spend substantially on things like dinners out, beer, wine, cappuccinos and more. Think of how much you spend at Starbucks on a monthly basis. Now, think of how much you spend per month at the bar or at the liquor store?  I personally spent a ton over the years doing these things.  And, if you do the math, the amount is totally disproportionate to the amount we spend on your health, especially given the returns.

A beer, glass of wine or mixed drink at a bar or restaurant is expensive (and unhealthy). But, for some reason, we are conditioned to pay for it without hesitation. The same goes for expensive coffee drinks, dinners out and more. It’s more familiar and seems like a normal expense.

Now, think of spending $100 per month for a gym (yoga, health club, whatever) membership. Oddly, that seems like a hefty bill and that ends up being a major deterrent for better health. While we spend more at just 2 or 3 dinners out, somehow health clubs have to be dirt cheap of we won’t join. And, while we think a health club membership is expensive, we liberally spend $5+ daily at Starbucks ($150 or more a month)!

The irony: Our health is the most important thing that we have and therefore it should be the thing in which we invest the most. Without our health, we cannot enjoy life (including visits to great restaurants). And, if you really analyze it, investing in our health and well-being is not really that expensive. Perhaps it just feels expensive when we look at its cost in isolation. But, when you compare its cost to things that we freely spend money on (dinner, drinks, etc.), it should feel a lot more comfortable.  Be sure to add the tangible and intangible benefits of being healthier to your calculations!

So, next time you’re near a Whole Foods (or similar), pop in and buy a fresh veggie juice. Rejoice since it’s cheaper than a liquor drink, and, importantly, because it will nourish and sooth your body, bring energy and vitality to your life and even combat some of the ill-effects of drinking alcohol or eating rich meals out. And, consider joining your local gym (yoga studio, crossfit, spin, kick boxing, whatever) and think of the cost of doing this as low, compared to many of our other living expenses, while the upside is priceless: better health.

It’s all how we look at expenses and benefits. After many years of living and recognizing the above concept, I gladly invest in all sorts of healthy things in my life because I’m willing to pay for things that create the most value / benefit in my life.  I guess I’m a bit Smarter now than I was 20 years ago!

Try it out and see how you feel.

 

Work More or Retire Early?

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If you were given the option to retire early from your career (and could afford it), would you? This seems like a dumb question as most people would jump at the opportunity to quit work.   But, is retirement really better than a working career? After being away from work for almost 2-years now, I would argue that leaving your working career too early might be a mistake.   Now that I’m a bit Smarter Sooner, I suggest carefully contemplating work vs. retirement because it has a lot of implications, well beyond the most obvious factors: free time and money.  Here is my perspective…Read More »

The Alcohol Trap

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Drinking alcohol can be a trap – something I’ve learned after NOT drinking it for the past 90-days+.

For most of us, beer, wine and/or liquor drinks are a default part of our daily lives. From a relatively young age, we have become conditioned to drink without even thinking about it. Social events, business events, cooking dinner, eating dinner, after dinner, parties, food-pairing, special events, while boating, while watching sports, after exercising, when at the beach, après ski, celebrating, commiserating… these are all prompts and reminders for us to drink. We don’t have to look very hard to find a reason or place to ‘have a drink’.  This is socially accepted and encouraged by the beer, wine and liquor industries whose marketing is very effective. Whether we realize it or not, we are socially and behaviorally conditioned to drink and it is likely an embedded part of our lives.   And, by the way, the liquor business laughs all the way to the bank.Read More »

Quietly Inspire & Manage Expectations

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If you assume people are going to have the high standards that you might have, think again. You’ll likely be let down. But this should not stop you from keeping high standards and behaving like you should, regardless.

Unfortunately, more people than you might imagine have poor etiquette, lack proper social skills, manners and general discipline that parents would hope their children have.Read More »

Lessons from a Dying 94-yr old

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About 6-years ago, I sympathetically befriended an elderly man, a Hungarian holocaust survivor who reminded me of my father. In the sunset of his life at age 88, he had outlived all of his family and, unfortunately, never had any children.   When I met Steven, I was immediately struck by his amazing mind and the depth of his repertoire. I also was saddened by how lonely his life had become. It seems very ironic that a man with so much richness to share had nobody with whom to share it. Over the next 6-years, I spent hours and hours just listening to him speak – some of the most interesting stories I have ever heard. Having survived the holocaust and subsequently living in 4 different countries, you might imagine the topics of discussion.

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Soft Landing at Home

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Do you look forward to going home? Does ‘home’ feel comfortable, warm and inviting? I’ve learned that the more that home feels like a ‘soft landing’, the better off you’ll be. Here’s why… No matter what happens during the day, no matter how challenging or difficult, how exhausting or biting, it will always be simply a matter of hours until you return to your soft landing. Knowing you have a soft landing waiting helps you get through almost anything that life throws your way!Read More »