Happy Thanksgiving! (2017)

Happy Thanksgiving! (2017)

I just want to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! I am grateful to you, my readers and course participants. Also, I know that this can be a frenzied week and time of year. Thanksgiving is intended to be a time of counting our blessings and grounding ourselves in our gratitude, however it can be hectic preparing for the meal and celebration (and also a little crazy with Black Friday the next day!).

 

If I start to feel stressed during weeks like this one, I just remind myself to “draw the box.” I think of the comments and issues from others as being outside my box, and I remind myself of the idea: what can I do in this moment. What can I control?

 

Just taking a breath and thinking about the box produces a subtle but powerful shift; by shifting my attention off of my anxiety and stress, I can transition to a healthier mental and emotional state.

 

If you are feeling stressed this week, try to draw the box (more info in Optimize for Victory). I hope that helps bring you some peace.

 

Again, have a very Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the time with loved ones.

 

Sincerely,

Lisa

 

Additional Resources:

 

Books:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Course: Design Your Success Academy

This is too much. Where do I begin…?

This is too much. Where do I begin…?

Cultivate Good Habits.

 

Improve Your Mindset.

 

Create a Vision.

 

Hustle.

 

Be Disciplined.

 

Set Goals.

 

Be Productive.

 

Wake up Early.

 

Do this, don’t do that…

 

A bit overwhelming, right?

 

All the above concepts are touted in the areas of personal and professional development. In some ways, it’s almost a vicious cycle. People seek help in order to take the next step—to overcome a problem or to improve a particular area, but it can be paralyzing.

 

In the process of trying to take the next step to improve, you hear all these things you are supposed to be doing, and in doing so, you deepen your state of inaction—because you don’t know where to start. You may think, “Well I don’t have a vision, so I’d better create that, but then I have to improve my productivity, and then I have to improve my mindset…so I can’t really improve anything until I fix all those,” and in the end, you wind up doing nothing—because you need to return to your survival mode. How can anyone improve all those at the same time and see a difference in their lives the next day?

 

And in many cases, people actually feel worse about themselves, because they start taking inventory of all the things they are not doing. And that certainly doesn’t lead to individuals overcoming their challenges or achieving their dreams more easily!

 

One of the most common questions I hear is with regard to not knowing how to take the next step.  It’s very easy to get caught up in realizing everything you’re not doing as described above, and that can be justification for not making expected progress in your life. This is why I am focused on resources that can help you take action. It’s even one of the reasons I use the word “optimize” because it’s like what we do in engineering—let’s yield a high quality product with minimal cost (i.e. yielding an even higher quality product for 100x the cost, in time/money, may not be profitable nor will it provide you the supply you need for your customers tomorrow!).

 

If we’re looking to improve something, we don’t necessarily want to take a year to get our systems in place; we typically need a different result as soon as possible and need to “optimize” the current situation for the better. And while it’s important to have good systems in place, realistically people need to see improvement more quickly. Therefore, I suggest taking action as soon as possible (while keeping in mind the overall system you’re aiming for in the future). I’m concerned that if you work on the system and don’t take action immediately, you’ll get so focused on perfecting the system that nothing will actually get done in the process!

 

Over time, you’ll find that the small improvements will compound, which is often discussed in the Kaizen approach. And if you do this intentionally, knowing the overall system or place you want to wind up, you’ll find that life helps you “course correct” along the way. But you can’t “course correct” unless you start taking action.

 

Therefore, if you’re in the boat of not knowing what to do next, check out my baby steps article for reference, and also keep the following in mind:

  1. Just start working on what makes sense. While it’s important to take time to reflect and take a step back, don’t do that for days on end while waiting for an epiphany. Take a break and then get back to the task at hand.

  2. If you’re not happy with your current situation and want a change in your life, keep doing #1 while also investing in yourself: take a few minutes each day to think about your overall system.

Sometimes when I present the above two points, an individual will respond to me and say, “Yes, but what makes sense for the next step?”

 

Naturally this is something best discussed in person. It’s very personal, but it may help for you to use some of the tools discussed in Success Blueprint or Design Your Success Academy. It’s hard to cover all the iterations of where you could be in your life or imagine what your situation is. But my quick, general advice would be:

 

  1. Continue what you’re currently doing and just keep trying to do your best at it until you’re clear on your new goals. For instance, if you’re in a career you don’t like, keep working at it while you start preparing for a new one (taking online courses to increase your skills, posting your resume, etc.)

  2. If you’re stuck not necessarily in terms of wanting a career change, but you want to feel better about  yourself in terms of discipline or productivity, try to implement one small change while you continue to invest in yourself (described above). For instance, if you can’t bring yourself to start something you don’t want to do, create a spreadsheet (described in Optimize for Victory) and track your progress on simply working on it, with no expectation to how much time you spend on it. Your goal is to ensure the time you spent on it each day is simply not zero (0).

 

To wrap up, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s understandable. It’s easy to “go down the rabbit hole” so-to-speak when you’re looking to make a change. Start small and enjoy the compound effect of small improvements each day as you keep your intention about the new person you want to be (or new career, or whatever it is your heart desires!).

 

And one final note: I’ve noticed that as hard as it is to start something I don’t feel keen on doing, it typically doesn’t seem as bad once I’ve begun it, and I often feel a sense of relief and a release of tension for at least finally starting it!

 

Additional Resources:

Books:

Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams

Success Blueprint: Get Out of Survival Mode, Regain Control of Your Life, and Get Ahead at Work and in Life

 

Course: Design Your Success Academy

Money, Success and “Worth It”

Money, Success and “Worth It”

In the past few years, I have made the following observation about the relationship between people and money:

 

Many people are overwhelmed by money

 

and/or

 

They are trying to “achieve success” to increase their income and overcome their money troubles.

 

In some cases, people are simply trying to “achieve more” because they are trying to achieve a particular goal and are seeking fulfillment by pursuing that endeavor. I am finding more and more, however, that sometimes one of the underlying factors to wanting increased success can be related to money, so I think it’s an important topic to bring up in the blog!

 

[Since I have noticed this, I am including some discussion and references to “optimizing your finances” in the blog (hence the recommendations page I started!)]

 

If you are in one of the aforementioned areas, I would recommend taking a step back and focusing on learning more about “optimizing your finances.” This doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a rigid budgeter. It simply means learning to assess your personal situation, so you can convert your worries into a feeling of clarity, particularly about how to move forward.

 

A new book that can help reframe your perspective and make you feel more empowered in terms of assessing your net worth and re-evaluating your life (ie evaluating your choices as risks) is Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms.

 

It’s important to note that the book was written by Amanda Steinberg, Founder and CEO of DailyWorth and WorthFM (both have primarily a female audience). Therefore, the book is written with women in mind, however the overall concepts about how to reframe your life and money can serve everyone.

 

Read more below:

 

Worth It Book

 

Title: Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms

Author: Amanda Steinberg

 

Formats: Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audible, Audio CD

Reviews: 4.7/5 Stars (Amazon)

 

Why I Recommend: Many women (and people) are stressed and anxious about their finances. This book cuts through all that. It’s definitely not a boring book. The author brings up her personal backstory to give the reader context and relates relevant stories, statistics and concepts. I like the “roots and wings” analogy as well as the emphasis on understanding the risks associated with buying property, starting a business, etc. and how all of that needs to be considered.

 

Warnings: Written with women in mind.

 

Structure of the Book: The book is divided into 3 major parts (11 chapters with an epilogue and “cheat sheet” at the end/summary):

 

Introduction: What is a Woman’s Worth?

Women are more powerful than ever in US history. So what’s wrong with our value?

 

Part 1: Your Life: Telling Stories. How your life story is also about you and your money.

 

Chapter 1: Hit the Reset Button.

The (money) story of my life: what I learned, when I rose, why I fell, and how I started all over again from scratch.

 

Chapter 2: Rewrite Your Story.

Wake up, Sister. Time to take this story in a different direction.

 

Chapter 3: Grow Your Roots, Spread Your Wings.

Tether yourself to solid ground; set sail accordingly.

 

Part 2: Your Money: Getting Clear to Set Yourself Free.

Grow your money, feed your mind, expand your life.

 

Chapter 4: Know Yourself.

How are you when it comes to money? Discover your MoneyType to make your best investments.

 

Chapter 5: Fund Your Future.

Support the life you want to live and the self you want to be.

 

Chapter 6: Go to Market.

You don’t need to learn stocks–you need to learn how to invest according to a few basic guidelines.

 

Chapter 7: Value Property.

Is buying a home the right investment for you?

 

Chapter 8: Run the Show.

Launch a business for fun and profit–if you’re cut out for it.

 

Part 3: Your Terms: Mastering Cash Flow.

Save your money, save the world.

 

Chapter 9: Wings.

Create affluence on any income.

 

Chapter 10: Overcoming Overspending.

You didn’t really want it in the first place.

 

Chapter 11: Money Clarity.

From chaos to clarity.

 

Epilogue: Design Your Life, Fund Your Dreams.

 

Summary: Formulas and Checklists.

 

Closing Comments: It’s a good book to reframe your perspective about your relationship to money. Instead of being afraid of it, you will learn to assess your current relationship/MoneyType. In the end, you will have greater clarity around money and how to view it as a part of your life.

 

Want to get this book for free? You can get two free books when you start a free trial with Audible.

Lisa’s Review: Hustle: The Life Changing Effects of Constant Motion

Lisa’s Review: Hustle: The Life Changing Effects of Constant Motion

Last week I had the pleasure of reading Hustle: The Life Changing Effects of Constant Motion on my Kindle by Jesse Warren Tevelow. If you’re stuck in a rut, or want to read something motivational to “get you going,” this might be a good read for you. Currently, it’s only $0.99 on Kindle. Read more below:

 

Hustle Kindle Book

 

Title: Hustle: The Life Changing Effects of Constant Motion

 

Author: Jesse Warren Tevelow

 

Formats: Kindle, Paperback, Audible (side note for Audible — you may want to save your free book or credit for a more expensive title as it’s currently only $4.87; be sure to check the price in case it’s changed, especially if you want to purchase directly)

 

Reviews: 4.6/5 Stars (Amazon)

 

Why I Recommend: Many people have “analysis paralysis.” They may have trouble moving forward and may stay “settled” because they have fear, are uncomfortable, or simply over-analyze before moving forward. This book will get you in the mindset of gaining momentum so that you can instead reap the benefits of gaining insights as you make significant progress in your endeavors.

 

Warnings: For those who want to take action and move forward. It’s not a long text, but just long enough to get you in the spirit of moving forward.

 

Structure of the Book (and highlights): The book is divided into 15 chapters:

 

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • Author cites examples of well-known people who have demonstrated what “hustling” really means.
  • Key: “Constant motion delivers life-changing results.”
  • There is value in creating momentum.

Chapter 2:  Where Does Hustle Come From?

  • Boils down to aversion to settling — you want more.
  • Discusses how to improve confidence due to whom you surround yourself with.

 

Chapter 3:  Hustler’s Diary – Day 1

Author chronicles his progress on writing the book quickly as an example of hustling; his diary entries are insightful as he is faced with common issues we may be faced with as we try to hustle.

 

Chapter 4:  What Does Hustle Require?

  • Adjusted mindset.
  • Facing your fears.

 

Chapter 5:  Hustler’s Diary – Day 2

Author chronicles his progress on writing the book quickly as an example of hustling; his diary entries are insightful as he is faced with common issues we may be faced with as we try to hustle.

 

Chapter 6:  Hustler’s Habits and Tricks

  • Discusses taking the leap from mindset to action.
  • Question everything.
  • Gather inspiration.
  • Focus and productivity tips.
  • Manage your physical energy (this is something I addressed in my own book, Optimize Your Productivity).

 

Chapter 7:  Hustler’s Diary – Day 3

Author chronicles his progress on writing the book quickly as an example of hustling; his diary entries are insightful as he is faced with common issues we may be faced with as we try to hustle.

 

Chapter 8:  Hustler’s Traits

  • Idiosyncrasies of hustlers.
  • Emphasizes focus on a goal and disregard for forced convention.
  • Ignore Doubters
  • Think Different.

 

Chapter 9:  The Lifestyle of a Hustler

  • Getting things done.
  • “Ship Product.”
  • Expect detours but keep on hustling!

 

Chapter 10:  Thirty-six Hours of Pure Focus

  • Rules can be rewritten.
  • Not overwhelming.
  • “Working faster = more focus, passion and output.”

 

Chapter 11:  Hustler’s Diary – Day 4

Author chronicles his progress on writing the book quickly as an example of hustling; his diary entries are insightful as he is faced with common issues we may be faced with as we try to hustle.

 

Chapter 12:  From Concept to Launch in Seven Days

  • How the author planned the book.
  • Authors discusses how he organized himself, tracked process, and pursued the publishing process.

 

Chapter 13:  Hustler’s Diary – Day 5

Author chronicles his progress on writing the book quickly as an example of hustling; his diary entries are insightful as he is faced with common issues we may be faced with as we try to hustle.

 

Chapter 14:  So You Want to Be a Hustler?

  • Discusses steps you can take.
  • “Live your life as a hustler.”

 

Chapter 15:  Who Are the Hustlers?

  • More examples and wrap-up.

 

Closing Comments: Overall, a good book to get the idea of moving forward ingrained in your mind. This does not mean rushing through projects without creating things of high-quality. The focus is more on the idea of moving forward at all, since many people will stay settled in their ways and they struggle to make progress.

 

Want to get this book for free? You can get two free books when you start a free trial with Audible.

2017 and “The Untethered Soul”

2017 and “The Untethered Soul”

Personal Note

 

It has been a long time since I have written in the blog. 2017 was a year of stepping back (and personal change) for me. I continue to focus most of my time on my growing family. I have also returned to teaching part-time at the university (NJIT). Interestingly, the course I’m teaching this semester is not a traditional chemical engineering course — it’s actually a “Career Planning” course for chemical engineers!

 

In terms of my website and my books, I’ve been teaching myself to code (very slowly!). I’ve also spent a lot of time planning out my next books and blog topics. While I had started to plan out one book earlier this year, it was feeling very forced; I decided it was time to take a break and “sharpen the saw” as Stephen Covey would say.

 

During my break, I had time to reflect on the tagline for this site and I have decided to call it “Think Inside the Box” based on the free ebook I wrote a few years ago. That ebook, and the concept of “thinking inside the box” explains the overall optimize approach and therefore is quite applicable to the spirit of the site.

 

Some additional changes you may notice is that I cleaned up the site (deleted old articles/announcements) and changed email providers. I also added a “Lisa Recommends” page; personal finance is a hobby of mine, so I will keep this page updated in terms of how I “optimize my finances” using various services.

 

In terms of content going forward, I am keeping in mind the special review I received from author John Schwartz a few years ago. He had entitled his review for my book Optimize for Victory with Stick to her website with good current advice.” Therefore, I will resume writing in the blog in an effort to create value for you:

 

Going forward, I will continue to write occasional posts reflecting on how we can optimize our lives in various ways. Further, as I come across helpful resources, I will blog about those as well. For instance, I read a lot (either on my Kindle or via Audible). Some of the books I read may be helpful for my readers, and therefore I will break some of the titles down for you so you can decide if you’d like to read them, too.

 

Thank you for reading my blog and now on to a recent book I read.

 

—–

 

the_untethered_soul_book

 

Title: The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

 

Author: Michael A. Singer

 

Formats: Kindle, Paperback, Audible, Hardcover, MP3 CD (I listened in Audible)

 

Reviews: 4.7/5 Stars (Amazon)

 

Why I Recommend: Many people struggle with perspective and self-awareness. This book is written in a  way that you can unravel and understand your current awareness and consequently raise your level of self-awareness while improving your perspective. In the past, I have written about the concept of taking the “aerial view” to gain perspective. I’ve also mentioned how critical self-awareness is in self-improvement. If you struggle in these areas, this book may help.

 

Warnings: For open-minded individuals. It’s not prescriptive or religious; however, the concepts come from various places/sources to increase your level of “consciousness.”

 

Structure of the Book: The book is divided into 5 parts:

 

Part 1: Awakening Consciousness

  • Helps you recognize “the voice in your head” and relate it to your “inner roommate.”
  • First step to stepping back and viewing yourself differently.

Part 2: Empowering Energy

  • Introduces the concept of being “closed off” and how you can start opening up.
  • Discusses how your energy and how you feel is related to how “closed off” you are.

 

Part 3: Freeing Yourself

  • Discusses “letting go” and how to do that.

 

Part 4: Going Beyond

  • Challenges you to surrender and live freely as a way of life.

 

Part 5: Living Life

  • Brings up death and rounds out your perspective as the book is wrapped up.

 

Closing Comments: Overall, a good book to broaden your perspective, especially if you are plagued with negative, habitual thoughts. Further, if you have trouble “letting go” I would recommend reading it. I recall someone once asked me how to let go, and this book might help if you struggle with that.

 

Want to get this book for free? You can get two free books when you start a free trial with Audible.