Spring Forward

I was honored to speak at Lori’s WOYN Breakfast Series on April 28 and so enjoyed my time at the Commerce Club with all of the ladies who were able to attend. (If you have not attended one, take a look at the upcoming schedule and see if you can get it on your calendar!)
While I don’t have the space to go through everything that I presented to them, I did want to share my approach for springing forward with your finances. Think about an area of your financial life that you are dissatisfied with. Take a moment and write it down. Now let’s SPRING forward to improve that situation:

See the situation – view the situation objectively. If emotions are coming up, explore the what, when, why, and how to become clear about why it is emotional for you. Then view it with your actual mind – get rid of the “always,” “never,” and “can’t” statements. List out the facts of the situation and how you would like it to change.
Plan a new approach – what specific action step could you take today to move you from where you are to where you want to be? Continue to list the actions necessary to take another small step.

o     Get the swirling thoughts and ideas out of your head and write it down;
o     Bullet points are best – 1, 2, 3, 4 – that objectifies it, breaks it into smaller pieces, and gives you a specific action step to focus on.
o      Nothing is more empowering than making a plan;
o      Nothing kills fear, guilt, and shame like a plan!

Recruit a positive emotion to feel the way you want to feel
o      Grab hold of the feeling that you want to embody:
o      Confident,
o      Capable,
o      Competent, (we often avoid when we feel incompetent!)
o       In control;
o       Use emotion to power you forward rather than drag you down!

Invest the time
o      This is not going to change overnight;
o       Let go of frustration;
o       Try, try again;
o       It’s a process.
Narrow your focus
o     Pick your biggest battle, the thing/area that is most important to you or is the source of the most frustration,
o     You can’t change everything at once,
o      It is a process,
o      Sometimes you fall a little backward before you spring forward.
Give yourself credit
o      Little victories are cause for big recognition and celebration;
o      You didn’t create the bad habits in a day and you won’t change them that quickly either.
o      Understand that under stress, it all falls apart; it’s ok – just pick yourself up and start anew.

Put some spring in your step by taking one issue that is weighing you down and springing forward to a better place. It may take some time but small steps can take you around the world if you just keep on stepping.

To your financial success,

Tana

When is the last time you checked your Integrity?

It describes a person who is integrated, blended into a whole, as opposed to a person of many parts, many faces, many disconnects. James Stockdale from Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot

I love this description of integrity. We (or maybe it’s just me) tend to think of character or honesty when we hear the word integrity, but James gives us a different spin on it that really makes me think of integrity more in terms of “integrated” and the connotation of wholeness and connectedness. Are we dealing with our financial lives in an integrated way? Just because we don’t cheat on our taxes, do pay our fair share, and don’t steal the post-its from the office doesn’t mean that we are dealing with our financial lives in an “integrated, blended into a whole” way.

Prioritizing Financial Life

Do you have conflicts in your financial lives? Duh – of course. Other than Bill Gates and Oprah, most of us have conflicting pulls on our money – pay down the debt, save for college, save for retirement, fix the leaky roof, get new tires, braces for the kids, take a vacation. The list of needs goes on and on and the paycheck runs out much too quickly. This is a life that does have conflicting parts.

It is much too easy to prioritize what is right in front of us (braces, leaky roof) and kick the can down the road on things like college savings and retirement. I do it all the time – “I’ll just get a few things for the house and next month, I will be able to focus on debt/college/retirement.” Next month will bring more leaks, more chipped paint, and more broken stuff that needs to be replaced. The circle of life has moved from the law of the jungle to Murphy’s law – if it can go wrong, it will.

Areas of financial focus

When this is life, we are not really living in integrity; we are living in a dis-integrated, pieces and parts way. It doesn’t feel good to be pulled in so many directions at the same time. It is hard to ignore those “squeaky wheels” that stare us in the face every day and keep our focus off the long-term. To be “living in integrity” does require a vision of wholeness, though. It isn’t easy (again, maybe it’s just me), but I think it is worthwhile for our mental wholeness and integrity (maybe integratedness.) Here are a few things that I am trying to think about as I work (always) on making my financial life “integrated” with what is truly important:

  • Is this use of money in alignment with what is really a priority for me or is it a momentary distraction – (healthy cooking is in alignment with my priorities, but really, is another cookbook necessary when I can get 10 million free recipes with two clicks?)
  • Is this use of money in alignment with my partner’s goals? (Do I really know my partner’s goals or do I just impose them on him? Let’s not ask him as the answer is likely to be embarrassing to me.)
  • Will this make me feel better about myself and my goals a week or a month from now? (Honestly, the $200 that I spent updating my laundry room (ok! $300) makes me so happy every single time that I walk in there – like 5-times-a-day kind of happy. That was worth it. The Kombucha brewing kit is stabbing me with guilt every time I walk by the barely-opened box.)
  • Where do I feel financially disconnected or dis-integrated – not falling apart disintegrated but not integrated, not connected, disjointed? Make a list, really. Writing it down gets it out of your head and into the light of day so that you can do something about it. Take the stuff you feel yucky about and write it down. The act of being honest is one of integrity (character kind of integrity) that will make you feel great about yourself. It is also one of honesty and wholeness. Embracing your greedy spoiled brat is an honest (if not particularly attractive) quality. Most of us have one so admitting it is the first step. Mine is super materialistic and demanding, ever-present, and quite vocal. I wish I could cultivate the minimalist mother-earth part of me that I know is in there, but she is quiet, shy, and probably off meditating somewhere while my spoiled brat is surfing amazon.com with my credit card. (Sigh – this is a never-ending inner battle).

 

True Confessions

When we live with integrity we are an integrated, complete whole rather than a dis-integrated, crumbling array of conflicting parts. Brian Johnson (aside – if you don’t know Brian, go to optimize.me – you are in for a treat! The quote above is from one of his Philosopher’s Notes ~ awesome!!)

  • Where do you feel like a “crumbling array of conflicting parts”? Just admit it. Write it down and stay honest.

Now that you have ‘fessed up, just stay present with how you feel about this. It is really ok and completely human to be a bit of mess in some areas (or so I tell myself.) We are pretty on top of it most of the time so allow yourself to have a few areas that you are working on. If you do feel a bit dis-integrated and disjointed, ponder it. Ask yourself, “what is one thing that I can do right now to become more integrated, more whole, more connected to my truth?” Now. Do. It. Do that one thing. You will feel so good, so happy, so proud of yourself, that maybe, tomorrow, you will do one more thing. Yep, you know – just do it.

To your financial success (and integrity)!

Tana

What are you are passionate about?

Last week, I talked about a different definition of generosity which involved having a giving plan which is “premeditated, calculated and designated.” So, I am moving in the direction of premeditation as a first step to creating a formal giving plan.

Another question that Andy Stanley asked to help move people forward in their generosity plan was: “What are the organizations that you are most passionate about?” Good question and as really good questions will tend to be, this one was thought-provoking. As my kids launch into their own independent lives, the organizations that have received my passion (and my time, talent, and treasure) are no longer relevant – their schools, their activities, their passions. So what are mine? Where do I want to make an impact?

I certainly care about many things and there are certainly more problems to be solved in the world than I can tackle here, but creating a focus does take some consideration. One place to get the juices flowing is at volunteermatch.org. This is a great place to browse by area and find your own areas of interest. You can find organizations that need volunteers (of course, they all need money) and get insights into what is being done locally, nationally, and internationally in your area of interest.

I like the idea of “hand up” versus “hand out” and helping to create opportunities for others. I’ve written about Kiva.org before so you can look back at old blogs on that if you are interested in finding out more. I want to keep that going with more consistent donations. If that is an interest for you, search for team Graduate’s Guide and start lending today. You can pick from a variety of regions and specialty groups. It is not giving per se (unless you donate to Kiva.org directly), but it is providing capital for those in need of it and I keep the funds flowing back out as repayments are made. See if that might be a good place for you to start (with as little as $25).

I also really like organizations like Heifer International and Habitat for Humanity as well, and perhaps I will look to find an organization in Atlanta with a similar mission. Anyway, you get the idea of finding what you are passionate about and making a commitment to consistently do more. Many people look to their church or synagogue and that is great if you feel that doing so meets your need for the “generosity challenge.” I have given to my church out of habit more than anything else, and I think I want to expand my charitable interests a bit further.

What about you? Does Andy Stanley’s challenge about generosity make you a little uncomfortable? Does it shake up your ideas about yourself and what you do to support the organizations that you are passionate about? I do know that we all get into habits and sometimes it is good to shake up those habits, especially our money habits, and make sure they are still right for us, especially as our lives go through different stages and priorities and interests change.

Give it some thought and see if you want to take the “generosity challenge” and if you do, what will that look like for you and your community?

To your financial (and community) success!

 

Tana

 

Generosity Is Not a Feeling

That is a quote from Andy Stanley who is a pastor, writer, and speaker in Alpharetta. I recently attended a conference for financial planners, and he was one of the speakers. That statement really hit me because my acts of generosity are definitely inspired by the feeling I have in that moment: the child at the door raising money for band/sports/schools, the plea for funds at the charity dinner, the pictures of the starving animals on TV. Certainly I can be pushed into generosity, but is that really generosity? Andy would say, “absolutely not;” it’s a response to good marketing.

Andy describes generosity as the “premeditated, calculated, designated emancipation of personal assets.” Under that definition, I am not generous in the least!

Let’s look at that:

  1. Premeditated – planned in advance; an action and not a reaction (the child knocking on the door)
  2. Calculated – you know the amount
  3. Designated – you know where it is going
  4. Emancipation – you set your money free to do good in the world (how inspiring is the word emancipation!)

One thing that has always bothered me about my random acts of giving is that I am scattering seeds to the wind rather than purposely planting them where they will grow in a direction that is important and meaningful to me. That “designated” part was the initial source of unease for me but certainly premeditated and calculated are just as much an issue.

How do you rate under Andy’s definition of generosity? Is that definition meaningful for you? Maybe you have your own that makes sense in your life. Mine was based on responding to a need from someone else but did not ever really belong to me. What is my desire to share my blessings in a direction that touches my heart, and how do I go about doing that with some forethought?

This directly ties to Andy’s question: “what is your plan for supporting organizations and causes that you are passionate about?” Gulp. I am a major planner (uh, it’s actually part of my job title!), but I don’t have a plan in this area. I am as random and un-premeditated as you can get. Oh, good, another area of my financial world that needs work! What’s new?

So, I am moving in the direction of premeditation as a first step. What are the organizations that I am most passionate about? As my kids launch into their own independent lives, the organizations that have received my passion (and my time, talent, and treasure) are no longer relevant – their schools, their activities, their passions. So what are mine? Where do I want to make an impact?

Think about your own premeditation in this area. Is that meeting your heart’s desire? If not, take the step with me and start “meditating” on your own passion for changing the world.

To your financial success (and generosity),

Tana

Shut ‘Em Down!

 

Karma. I love it! Especially when I’m fortunate enough to see it come back around to someone who deserves it.   The funny thing about karma is that you don’t know where or when it will come back. But, if you are lucky enough to witness it, it’s the best front seat to have while viewing that person get shut down right before your eyes!

The Incident

Many years ago, I was hired at a major PR firm. Each day I enjoyed working with different clients. But, I worked with an insecure micro manager. This, I didn’t enjoy. From the very beginning, my work was revised, rewritten, discussed and scrutinized.  Prior to joining the firm, I was a Public Information Officer for the Fulton County Library System in Atlanta, where I wrote news articles and press releases.  There was never a problem then. So, why was everything I did a problem now?  I found myself watching the clock every morning until it was time to go in the evening.  The job that I thought was going to be my dream job, turned out to be a job that I wish I could wake up from and never return.

The Breaking Point

Almost two years had gone by and I was called into the managing director’s office.  And there it was. His speech was cloaked in I’m sorry…  I hate to tell you this… we really wanted you, but. The underlying message really was: I couldn’t write. How was that even possible? I had written mayoral candidate speeches, press releases that turned into newspaper articles, and proposals that won business for this firm. And now, I’m being told that I could not write? I was given 30 days to find another job. This was a very liberal gesture and I appreciated the ramp up. I found a job that I really liked with a major airline and worked there for ten years before I started my own company.

Karma Finally Came

For about two years after I left the PR firm, I began to experience great satisfaction and success in play-writing.    I did all of my own publicity and landed articles in several local newspapers and was interviewed by one major radio and television station. I remember  getting a call from the LA Times asking if the play was going to Broadway (yes, my press release was that good). They wouldn’t cover my play because it was local, but told me if it made it to Broadway to give them a call back.  That was the best compliment I could have received from a major newspaper.  But that wasn’t the karma.

Several weeks later I was on an airplane seated in first class (working for an airline had its perks) and the managing director that I worked for at the PR firm was walking past me heading toward coach. ( I must admit that I got a big kick out of that visual.)  I tapped him on the arm and the look on his face was priceless. “Hi Lori, it’s good to see you! I’ve been reading a lot about you lately.” I smiled and said, “Thank you.”Then I looked at him square between his eyes and said, ” I guess I can really write after all!  Enjoy the flight!”  Karma.  Don’t you just love it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Value of Persistence

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. ~ Calvin Coolidge

This is one of my all-time favorite quotes. I think the reason that I love it so much is that it clearly tells us that success is in our hands. It is possible for all because you don’t need talent, genius, education, or anything “special” to achieve any goal. It is the great equalizer! All you have to do is keep at it. Try, try again.

For anyone trying to make any changes in their lives (can we talk about those New Year’s Resolutions), persistence is your best friend and your most valuable weapon. It doesn’t matter if the diet has been sketchy, the exercise train has left you at the station, or the spending plan is heavier on the spending than on the planning. Tomorrow is a new day and all you need to arm yourself with is the desire to start anew.

I also love the universality of this quote (and many that I feature). This applies to every area of your life: relationships, overcoming addictions, losing weight, getting in shape, and of course, meeting financial goals. Persistence pays. So, whatever New Year’s Resolutions you started with on January 1, dust them off, learn from the last 29 days and try, try again. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. What power!

To your financial success (and persistence!),

Tana

Balance or Fall off!

A balanced lifestyle is simply a state of being in which one has time and energy for obligations and pleasures.  ~ Madisyn Taylor

A balanced financial life is one in which you have the money for obligations and pleasures. This is the never-ending dance of what we want versus what we need; what is right-now-in-the-moment versus what is my biggest, most important goal. I tend to slip too far on one end of the “teeter-totter” or the other too frequently. The problem with locking into too much austerity is that the caged animal (me!) eventually goes completely berserk and unleashes in a wild spree of mindless spending. “I want, I want, I want” becomes overwhelming and the spoiled brat takes charge.

The key is balance. Oh, that is a word that I am just not great at applying in my life – anywhere. I seem to love being at one end of the teeter-totter or the other. So, my behind is either in the mud or dangling precariously off the end of the board. Fine when you are 7 but less great at 50-something!

This year, I want to sit in the middle of the teeter-totter by building in the small pleasures (a monthly facial – what a treat!) and adding in just a bit more toward the obligations. I am going for a bit of this and a bit of that rather than all or nothing. I am programming myself to think of my monthly facial every time the brat in me wants, wants, wants. “Do you want this or that, little 4-year-old self? Pick one and go skipping off happy and satisfied.”

Yes, I want my financial state of being to be one in which my spoiled brat and my task-master are both co-existing together, quietly, maybe on a blanket, under a nice tree, far, far away from the teeter-totter.

To your financial success (and balance),

Episode 3: Podcast with Patty Binns Farinola

Get  in touch with your inner strengths and understand your true authenticity with Patty Farinola.  Patty gives a real perspective on what it means to be spiritual, to live your own truth and find your purpose.

It Just Wasn’t What You Thought …

Have you ever wished for something so badly and then when you  finally  got it,  it wasn’t at all what you thought it would be ?

The reality of this happens to many of us during  different  stages in our life.  The trade-off from entrepreneurship to employee is one of the hardest decisions that a business owner can make. Graduating from college and  discovering that the degree you received has not helped you  excel in your career can make you feel like you are going in reverse .  You can feel more frustrated when the  area of work you are in has nothing to do with your major.  Want to get married and or raise a family? You see other couples together and they make it look so appealing. But when it finally happens to  you, you’re are stunned that  being a wife, mother ( and career woman) is a lot more than you ever could imagine even in your wildest of dreams!

When we were  teenagers we couldn’t  wait to become adults. When we finally did, we realized  our  responsibilities far exceeded the freedom and fun that we longed for when we finally became independent. As an adult, we look back on the mistakes we made when we were younger and  wish we knew then what we know now.  These thoughts have us convinced that  our lives would be so much easier, richer and less complicated if we had a chance to do it all over again(or so it seems).

Taking a look at other people’s lives or situations often times makes us take a look at ourselves and  make comparisons. Some may even wish they were in a different place or in a  different time.  But the truth is, no one really knows what it took for that person to get to where she or he is.  For some, if they knew the journey and the struggles that others had to endure to achieve success, many  would not want to make the same sacrifices.

The funny thing is, all of us have an opportunity to be where we want to be in our lifetime. Yes, it’s easier for some and more difficult for others. Staying focused, having  faith, doing the  work and believing in yourself is only half the battle.  The other half  is being committed to the goal,  making the necessary sacrifices, not worrying about what others say or think about you and having a realistic set of expectations  of your end-goal.  You can get there, but you have to be ready.  And when you finally do get there, ask yourself: Will you be grateful? Or will you  still be unsatisfied because what you finally  accomplished still isn’t  what you thought it would be?

Prosperity

Prosperity is the alignment of your beliefs, values, and actions.

Lorri Palko & Beth Egan

This is a unique way to look at the word prosperity. It puts a different spin on it and makes prosperity that much more attainable and controllable. “Alignment” is a great word to reflect what we truly want in our lives – for everything to be synched up, moving in the same direction, and flowing. We talk about the “stars aligning” or “everything falling in to place” as a nod to order and consistency.

As I was reflecting on that quote, I have a strong sense of the power that is inherent in aligning my beliefs, my values and my actions. The power of taking control, of being in charge, and of making things happen. We don’t wait around for prosperity to find us, we create it! So, to begin creating, consider:

  • What are your beliefs about your financial abilities? Your ability to make money, use it appropriately, and accumulate wealth.
  • What are your values around your financial life? What is the most important aspect of living authentically for yourself in this area?
  • What actions can you take today, tomorrow and going forward to make sure that you are living in prosperity by aligning what you belief, what you value, and what you do?

It is rarely the “big bang,” the grand gesture, or the sudden action that brings prosperity. It is the daily activities, the million small decisions, and the commitment to align your actions completely with what you believe and value.

To your financial prosperity!

Tana