How Being Authentic Will Help Your Network Marketing Career

People can see through smoke and mirrors. Maybe it was different in years past but these days people are very smart. In this article, we are going to talk about how being authentic will help your network marketing career.

Let me first let you know that being authentic to me does not mean that you share all of your business with the world. Being authentic means being in line with whatever message it is that you are sharing. If you are talking about financial freedom and you don’t have it, you should be talking about how you are working toward it and what you are learning instead of trying to make people think that you already have it.

One of the things I remind myself and teach to my team is that the truth is good enough. Maybe we are not impressed with the success that we have so far but it could be just what the person we are talking to needs to hear.

When I am talking about success, I don’t even necessarily mean monetary success levels, it can even mean that you’ve enrolled one person or got one customer. Whatever your story is, you have to be good with your story and be authentic. This does not mean that you tell the world all of your problems. People don’t need to hear all of that. You can give your story after you’ve gotten through your challenge. When was the last time people were inspired by a rags to rags story?

When you are talking to people just connect with another human being and be genuine in your writing and any other communications as well. The more that you do this, the more people will know, like and trust you. We all know that these are the people that we love to do business with and that is how your business will be helped by being authentic.

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Tips To Help You Plan A Fulfilling Cruise

Cruises are some of the most exciting vacations you can choose to enjoy. They offer unbeatable value because you do not have to think about constant transportation needs from place to place and neither do you have to pay costly airfares to your destination. The cruises give you the chance to enjoy refreshing sea air helping you relax and simply enjoy the warm ocean breezes whenever. With so many ports scattered around the world, you can place a cruise travel to visit areas that you have always wanted to visit.

If you love water and water activities, then cruises will prove to be most rewarding to you. But then to enjoy the most pleasant experience you still need to plan properly for your cruise. When everything is in order from the initial stages, then you are bound to enjoy a fulfilling vacation on a ship.

1. Know the number of people cruising with you

If it is just a few of you, then planning should be easy, but you will need a lot more planning and coordination when you plan to travel with more family members and friends. If you are bringing children along, then you need to make sure that the cruise package has plenty of activities for them too. You can plan for a private kind of cruises or you can choose to pay for cruises that accommodate lots of other people headed the same direction you are. The important thing is to choose what works for you and the people you are tagging along.

2. Choose the best cruise length

Cruise packages differ in length and the vacation time you have available should help you select the length that is most suitable. A cruise can be only a few days or you can choose one that goes for a week and more. A weekend cruise can be a great choice for those with little time to spare. With so many destinations and packages, you should be able to plan a cruise length that you can afford and enjoy to the fullest.

3. Pick the best stateroom

People have different preferences when it comes to cruises and your stateroom choices should be guided by your vacation preferences. For instance, if what you dream of is lounging in a private balcony as you enjoy the gracious tropical views, then a balcony stateroom is the ideal selection. Couples can cruise in a suite or a penthouse to get the most from the cruise vacation. If you are a little pressed on a budget, then you can always settle for an inside stateroom. Some cruise packages can offer you additions such as 24 hour butler for your luxury experience.

4. Consider onboard activities

Even when you are going on a romantic cruise vacation, you will definitely need activities to fill your time on board. Find out what activities you will find on-board and how exciting they will make your cruise. Spa services, wine tasting, bingo, culinary demonstrations, live entertainments and others are some of the most popular on most cruises.

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Useful Tips for Choosing an Airport Taxi Service

Getting to the airport isn’t the easiest thing and can be more difficult for those travelling with a lot of luggage and family members. One option to forget about the logistics of reaching the airport on time is to make use of an airport taxi service. This can remove a lot of the stress and worry, but is still important to schedule the pickup to match the specific needs.

Here are a few tips to make sure the airport taxi service provides a prompt and timely package:

Plan ahead

A simple step that can make things go smoothly is to book the taxi well in advance. Make sure there is enough time to easily reach the airport without feeling rushed. Try to calculate the travel distance and add an extra hour or more in the event of heavy traffic. Also, if travelling during busy travel times, such as bank holidays, it may be worth adding a little more time.

Pay attention to reputation

Investigate two or three different companies and aim to identify one that is highly rated for providing a reliable deal in the local area. Use online reviews to get an idea of the quality and reputable of a potential company. Find one that has the courteous drivers and appreciated for providing timely pickups and drops-offs.

Most companies are quite similar, so it helps to ring around and get a price for the ride to the airport. Many quote a flat fee to travel from home to the airport, as well as any other pickups on the way. Also, make sure the preferred company has the necessary licensing and credentials to offer this particular type of service.

Amount of space

One of the important things to check is the amount of space for passengers and luggage that the vehicle can accept. The vehicles can vary significantly in size with a standard vehicle able to accept a couple with minimal luggage to the larger vehicle that can easily take six or seven passengers in comfort.

For those travelling with a lot of bags, it may be necessary to ask for a larger vehicle.

Call before pickup

Even if the airport taxi service has been booked and reserved in advance, it still may be worth giving the company a call a few hours before it should arrive at the pickup address to make sure it will be arriving on time.

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Your 50 – Part 2 – The Keys to Starting Your Own Business Now!

In part 1 of this article series we met 3 individuals with unique backgrounds that left corporate and forged their own way. Here we illustrate 2 addition stories along with important strategies and tactics you need s you go forward in your own business. This journey of starting your own business is not for the faint of heart, but the success you will find will be life-changing.

Here is what you will learn:
1. Franchising is a good option for a business.
2. Doing your own business is very rewarding.
3. How coaching is vital to making your business a success.

First Entrepreneur

Our first entrepreneur, was a successful high-level executive first at Ford and then at Terex, a firm focused on lifting and material processing products (e.g. cranes), with all the associated perks and incentives. Meet Pete Gilfillan. He had the good life and no reason to change until one day…

Alan: I saw that your main business is helping people evaluate franchises (FranChoice). How did you get started in your own business? What triggered that decision?

Pete: I was a corporate executive, first with Ford and later with Terex and they literally owned my life. I was traveling all the time. I just decided one day I had had enough and I would be an entrepreneur.

Alan: Tell me more about what happened when you decided to leave corporate life.

Pete: In my last position, I was with Terex. I live in Chicago, but the Terex is headquartered in Connecticut and I was on the road 6 days a week and much of the travel was international. With all the travel I didn’t eat right, didn’t exercise and frankly I was miserable. I was in another country and I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn’t remember what country I was in. I realized then I had had enough. When I got back to Chicago, I told my wife about the decision. At first my wife wasn’t keen on the idea of my leaving corporate. She saw the practical side of staying in corporate (financial security), but I knew I needed to make a change. I quit my job and I started working with a franchise consultant in order to find a franchise. After a few months we found Junk King and saw that it was be a good fit. I liked that it was a service based business and could be scaled up; such as adding trucks as the business grew and it had little overhead. Later, I started to work with FranChoice, where today I’m one of the top franchise consultants. I really like the way their business model works. There is no cost to individuals (companies pay FranChoice) and it gives me the opportunity to do what I love most, which is to help people find the business that meets their needs.

Alan: That’s great. You are able to do what you love. Let’s change gears for a minute. I saw that you wrote a best-selling book. Writing a book is a big step. How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Writing is a key way to demonstrate your expertise and build your business

Pete: Darren Hardy, who is pretty well known in the entrepreneur circles, is my mentor. I went to his High Performance Summit and Darren said one of the best ways to give back is through writing a book. Since I have a lot of knowledge about the franchise business, doing a book on it was a good fit.

Alan: How did you find the time to write?

Pete: There is many ways to write a book. I found a company that would write the actual words while I talked. I would put together an outline for each chapter and talk for a couple of hours with the writers. We would meet for 2 hours a week, either early morning or late at night. After a draft of the book was created, I had someone edit the book. Even then it took a year and a half to complete the book.

Alan: How did you go about publishing it?

Pete: I was able to find a publishing company through my business coach.

Alan: It had to be daunting to start your own business after being in corporate. What is one thing you wish you knew before you started your own business?

Pete: If I could have been able to keep my corporate job and invested in franchise and then make the leap instead of going in cold to my own business, it would have saved me a lot of angst. I may have done something different than Junk King. I could have started a franchise on a part-time basis, say 15 hours week. With Junk King there was no way to do it on a part-time basis.

Alan: What’s next for you?

Pete: Speaking engagements, so I can reach more people and continue to work with ExecuNet, which is a private community made up of over 750,000 CEOs, VPs and various leaders and influencers.

Alan: Any final words?

Pete: I would say that for franchising, people need to have an open mind. When people ask me about franchising, they have already made up their mind that it would be food (McDonalds, etc.) They have that in mind because they see a lot of people eating at those restaurants so they assume it is a good business to get into. I help them understand that the food business is very competitive; has high capital investment and a high cost of goods sold (the food). There are over 3000 franchises in every conceivable business that may fit their needs. It doesn’t have to be food.
But regardless of what business you go in, whether it is a franchise or not, you need to work hard. There is no substitute for hard work.

Alan: Good words to live by. Thanks for your time.

Second Entrepreneur

Our second entrepreneur was a successful telecom executive before going into his own business. He shares key ideas on making your business grow. Meet Rick Lochner.

Alan: How did you come to be an entrepreneur?

Rick: I’ve known for some time that I wanted to be in my own business and that it would be in the leadership area. I worked with entrepreneurial company and it was sold 2 years after I started. I went to another company and 2 years later it was sold. The turmoil of being at companies that are going through turnarounds is very difficult for everyone involved. It is very long hours, great stress and often the rewards of that hard work just aren’t there. I’ve been laid off 4 times in my career so I knew corporate has no security. I even negotiated my severance package before I went to work a healthcare company.

Alan: How exactly did going into your own business occur?

Rick: My wife and I were having brunch with a couple and we talked about how it would be great to start business and details on what that business would look like when it started in a few years. At the end of the meal, I said, “Why are we waiting; let’s do it!” It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Alan: What do you like best about being an entrepreneur?

Rick: The best thing is I get to do what I love. In corporate, there were many things I had to do that I really didn’t enjoy. Being an entrepreneur, being in my own business, enables me to live with purpose and that is very meaningful to me.

Alan: Is there anything you would do differently now if you were just starting your business?

Rick: I would have pursued the non-profit market right away. I didn’t because people told me there is no money in that business, but that is not true. That market needs to be approached differently than for-profit but they need my services just as much. Now non-profit is 25% of my business. But you asked if I would have done anything differently and the answer is no. The business strategy worked and I would have approached starting the business the same way.

Alan: What challenges did you have starting out?

Rick: I started the business in July 2008. The US was already in a recession and financial markets were in turmoil and little did I know things in the business world were about to get a lot worse. I had worked in telecom for many years as an executive and I had been quite successful. I had a load of contacts at my previous company, Sprint; there were many people that knew me well and respected me but I was not able to get business from them. They still saw me as a telecom executive and not as knowledgeable in leadership development, even though I had been developing leaders at Sprint. I had traveled a lot during me years in corporate and my connections in Chicago were no better than in Atlanta or any other U.S. city. I knew I needed to develop roots in the local community. I joined Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and started to created circles of influence. In time the contacts I made developed into connections for the business. It wasn’t easy, but I went all in; 100% to make the business work.

Why having a part-time business is so important

Alan: What advice would you give to someone that is climbing the corporate ladder?

Rick: Every corporate employee should have a part time gig to provide a bridge to go into business for themselves or just to have a secondary income source. I started teaching leadership at Keller School of Business in 2004. Teaching helped in the 8 months transition to my business full-time. It provided income after getting laid-off; making it easier to focus on the growth of the business and not where the next paycheck was coming from.

Alan: What has been the biggest challenge in your learning curve as an entrepreneur?

Rick: Marketing was new to me; I had not worked in that area. So I put together my business plan and my marketing plan and discussed it in detail with my two mastermind groups. They both said the business plan was great and was going to work but the marketing plan was not good. So I was tutored in marketing from people that were 20 years younger than me and their advice was spot on. This taught me a couple of valuable things. 1) You have to know what you are good at and what you are not good at and find experts in the areas that you are not good. 2) Spend a lot of time with people 20s to early 40s in order to gain insights on trends.

Alan: What additional advice would you give to someone that was looking to start their own business?

Rick: Know what problem you are trying to solve and position yourself so that is clear that you are the only one that can solve it. Too many people get hung up on their product or service and less focused on the problem to be solved. If you are going to go for it, then you really have to go for it. At the core, you have to know how to solve the problem in a unique way.

Alan: How did your writing a book come about?

Rick: The business model I developed has been a work in progress since 1999. I used that model to align the business at every organization I led as an executive. Often we try to fix a problem in an isolated way which doesn’t work. The process may not be broken; it may be the people, so you need a holistic approach. I wrote the first book in 2012 to complete my initial business strategy and a book does that. I was advised by a couple of authors and self-published it. I needed to promote the business alignment method and the book helps clarify the model as well as promote the business. I asked clients what is perfect length for a book and they said a Chicago to Los Angeles flight, which is about 4 ½ hours.

Alan: You’ve actually published multiple books. How did you come with your ideas?

Rick: The second book was to help the individual leader and the third book was for the entrepreneurs. I write books that apply to the business areas I work in.

Alan: How do you find the time to write?

Rick: The secret to success is having a coach. I’ve had 3 accountability coaches so far and each one helped me in a different way. When I first started the business, I needed an accountability coach; someone that would keep me accountable and keep me encouraged. She was the type of person I needed at that time. Keep in mind, I was starting this business during the depths of the Great Recession and needed that support. The second coach helped me write the books, not from the standpoint that he had ideas for the book, but he was able to get me moving along on the development of the book. I actually wrote the first book while my wife was driving during vacation because I was on a self-imposed deadline and needed to get it done. The third coach has helped me grow the business and take it took another level. If I would have had her in the beginning, it would not have worked well. Now that the business is growing and I am at a different place in my thinking and my business, she is exactly what I need.

Alan: Any final thoughts?

Rick: I talked with 20 different coaches before starting out in leadership coaching and based on my research, billions of dollars is wasted on leadership that doesn’t work. I am on a crusade to change that one leader at a time. It will take time to undo the wrong things that leaders are doing today; takes time to unlearn. But I will continue to work with them, one leader at a time. It is my passion.

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Why Should I Engage in Outdoor Recreation Activities?

More and more people engage in outdoor activities these days, as outdoor sports are becoming very popular. The top recreational activities include kayaking, jogging, walking, hiking, and camping.

This article is for the people who love to spend their time outdoors, enjoying new adventures in fresh air.

How can outdoor recreational activities be beneficial to you?

The foremost advantage of spending time outdoors is gaining a good mental spirit and healthy balance of your body. Not only will it help in giving you the liveliness that everyone should have, but it will also pump your life force and the love of living.

Activities such as walking, bird watching, kayaking and camping all make you feel happier while appreciating the beauty that we often forget during our busy hours at the office. Nowadays the stress level has increased so much in everyone's life that everyone, without exception, describes a small break to get rid of this stress. Sometimes a small walk in the park will do the trick and can lighten up your tensions and make you feel happy.

In today's hectic life styles, we hardly find time to spend with our families and friends. Engaging regularly in various outdoor activities can help you create much stronger bonds with your family and friends. You can interact and talk more with your friends and family while sharing the astonishing experiences of a different outdoor activity each time you go out.

How can outdoor recreation help you in saving money?

Our lives are never smooth and secured; Everyone comes across various difficult times in their lifetime. Taking the time to engage in simple outdoor recreations will not only help you mentally, but you will also find that it costs close to nothing. For example hiking does not cost anything when compared with cycling. All you need is a pair of good shoes and a mountaintop to hike to. Another example is simply playing outdoors with your kids. Nothing will beat playing soccer or tags with your kids, especially when you take time off from a stressful job.

While there is other activities like hunting that are somewhat costlier however they will provide you with a lot of thrills and great sense of accomplishment. If you can not afford spending money on such activities then you still have many options that will definitely suit your pocket.

You should try to spend as much time as possible in these types of activities. You should also encourage your friends, family and kids to spend such a wonderful time together building good memories. Nothing can be more enjoyable and beneficial than gaining a good and healthy lifestyle by being in the outdoors.

Take full advantage of the beautiful world we live in and its alluring nature that surrounds us that we inheriting for centuries from our ancestors.

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Coffee Shop On Wheels – How About Parking At a Rest Stop for Weary Travelers?

One thing us retired entrepreneurial company founders like to do is think up new potential start-ups. Luckily for me, I’ve started a little think tank that has several of us on board. Lucky also for you, if you want to start a business, we don’t mind sharing our ideas with you, heck maybe you can get some funding and make a go of it, do something great, fill a niche and be the next successful start-up entrepreneur out there. I wish you well.

Okay so here is a recent idea we came up with, actually it is an old idea, rehashed. There have actually been some franchises that do this. This has a different twist. Do you know how rest stops along the highway sometimes have vendors selling food? Usually, someone has a deal with the state and gets a license to do business there? How about a mobile food truck that serves up Lattes, Mochas and Espresso – high-end coffee?

One of our think tankers suggested we call it “R and R” and try to get it licensed in all states.

Indeed, there are mobile restaurants in every state almost – some have purposely made it tough on the sector due to restaurant industry lobbyists. I like the name idea, and I had once prepared a business plan for my brother’s company – the potential company would have been named Jumping Java – with on-site corporate parking lot delivery. The runners would take the orders and deliver the coffee inside the company. R&R might be a good name, but some people drink coffee to pep-up and not to rest or relax, so that might not be the right name. Unless you told them the name was for “Ramp-up and Race-Forward” or something. Well, it would be a huge logistic nightmare, you’d need commissaries for the mobile units, home bases, required by law.

You’d need permission where to park, licenses in every city, most cities have ordinances for what they might deem street vendors thus, controlling when and where you can set up. Each state is required by law to send it out to bid, and then the lowest common denominator, minority company paying ridiculously low wages would be competing with you while their employees lives 10 people to a house, and they got a 15% bid advantage for being a minority or woman owned business, and an SBA loan, that others could not get.

Then the government would PR the crap out of it telling everyone how some Bozo Congressman was providing jobs. It would be a nightmare to deal with the state. Worse, they often close the rest stops for no reason, and you’d be out of business for that time period. Then there is the crime issue, and angry people that the bathrooms are not cleaned, even though that isn’t your fault. You should see the stuff that goes on at rest stops. Although having someone there selling something does add a level of safety, because people are there.

One think tanker noted; “Sometimes there are people giving free coffee at rest areas trying to make their roads safer.”

Yes, I’ve seen that, and I am in favor of it. Maybe the state would pay for just plain “free black coffee” and you could sell the higher-end coffee drinks or, the state gives you free rent, if you give the cheap black coffee out for free and then are free to sell the expensive stuff. Be Great, Don’t Hesitate.

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6 Tips Before You Rent a Boat

Sailing a boat is a great experience, especially when you are sailing with your friends or family. It’s true that not everyone can afford to own a boat to have the sailing experience, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it. If you want to sail a boat but don’t have the money to buy one, you can use another option and rent one. However, you should know a few things before going this route. This will make sure that you will be on the safe side.

Tip #1 Reserve a Boat Ahead of Time

In summer, the demand for boats is higher than in winter. Therefore, you may find it harder to find a boat that hasn’t been taken. To avoid this situation, we suggest that you make the reservation a few weeks earlier. As soon as you have confirmed your vacation dates, you should have a boat reserved.

Tip #2 Consider Your Needs

As a beginner, renting a fast boat won’t be a good idea for you. But if you have a friend with you who knows how to sail a boat, then you may go ahead and rent a fast one. Another thing to keep in mind is that the selection should be based on what you want to use the boat for. For instance, not all types of vessels would be suitable for fishing. For recommendations, you can get in touch with the boat reservationist.

Tip #3 Rent a Well-maintained Boat

The boat you are going to rent must be in good condition. In other words, make sure the boat doesn’t have any defects. But the question is how can you know if the boat is in good working condition? Well, you should take a look at the rental office or building. If the building is well maintained, the boats will also be in good condition and vice versa. Remember: sailing a damaged or defective boat may put your life at risk. So, you should never compromise on this factor.

Tip #4 Use Charts and Maps

The boat you are going to rent should have the latest charts. They will make it easier for you to know the directions to wherever you want to go. Since waterways change from time to time, having the latest maps is highly recommended.

Tip #5 Safety Is of Paramount Importance

The most important thing in our lives is safety. So, make sure that the boat has all the required safety equipment. Also, the law doesn’t allow you to use a boat if it doesn’t meet any safety requirement.

Tip #6 Communication is Important

The boat you are going to rent must have a working on-board radio. In case something goes wrong during sailing, you can use the onboard radio or your cell phone to call for help. Also, don’t forget to save the important numbers in your phone before you board the boat.

So, these are some boat renting tips that you should note down and take into account before renting a good boat.

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Why You Should Stop Boasting About How Busy You Are

An Accomplished Life

“Hi Tom, how are you?”

“I’m well Jane, just extremely busy.”

“Oh, I’m glad to hear you’re keeping busy then.”

“Yes, I’m flat out at the moment.”

The above interaction is one that takes place between people on a daily basis.

But what is behind the busyness?

Is it a way to deflect attention from what really matters?

People brag about their busy lives to highlight themselves living an accomplished life to their peers.

Similarly, they may wish to communicate how meaningful their work is and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Being occupied implies oneself is consumed with matters of significance. That is why people state their busyness, to have you know they are important.

Busy people struggle to keep their attention in the present moment because their focus lies in future events and planning for the next project.

“We become active and busy, but this doesn’t actually move us any closer to success. Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business,” states authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.

I question those who have a hectic schedule as a method to divert their attention from connecting with their core self.

The title quote by the Greek philosopher Socrates, invites you to be wary of a busy life which can be barren.

The busy person is disconnected from others, simply because their attention is focussed on their own commitments. There is the impression of a purposeless life, masked behind the facade of a frantic lifestyle.

Busyness can be reframed to imply your pursuits are purposeful instead of busy.

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan affirm, “Don’t focus on being busy; focus on being productive. Allow what matters most to drive your day.”

Busy or Just Unproductive?

You can be busy but not productive and still chase your tail.

Beneath the busyness lies the unconscious desire to be rewarded for hard work.

People believe being preoccupied is impressive and associated with status. You must be pursuing something prestigious, otherwise you wouldn’t be busy.

I’m reminded of an episode in the Seinfeld sitcom where the character George Costanza, played by Jason Alexander, walks around the office looking annoyed. He realises that being busy is associated with stress and works hard to uphold this facade.

He appears irritated, causing his supervisor; Mr. Wilhelm to fear George is cracking under the pressure of his work.

While this scenario is fictional, it shows how people unconsciously use busyness to draw attention to themselves.

Similarly, you may believe multitasking is indicative of productivity. Busyness implies being on top of things which is often the furthest thing from the truth.

“Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil… It’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time,” affirms associate editor at Psych Central, Margarita Tartakovsky.

The busy pandemic comes at a cost to people’s well-being and happiness. You may find it difficult to disconnect from work to spend time with family. These are the pursuits that rejuvenate you instead of deplete you.

Busyness can be a sign of procrastination. It is a smoke screen to cover up being overwhelmed and in need of help to prioritise your life.

Consequently, those in the creative field will tell you they are absorbed in their interests and not busy with work.

It was the late Stephen R Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People who said, “It is possible to be busy-very busy-without being very effective.”

The Demands of a Hectic Schedule

It is vital that you set clear boundaries if you wish to be fulfilled. Busy people find it difficult to say no since they do not wish to offend others or be seen as incapable.

I’m yet to meet a busy person satisfied with their hectic schedule. I’m certain they would trade their frantic life for: less work, more time and money.

Occasionally, you might be pulled by circumstances not of your choosing. Business may unexpectedly increase if you’re self-employed as you try to meet the pressures of growing sales. But that doesn’t mean you are happy if all you are doing is working to provide for the demands of other people.

You have a choice how you spend your time. To claim you are busy is failing to prioritise your time wisely.

“Everybody’s busy. Everyone does the actions. But were they the right actions? Were those actions productive? Did you take a step forward? These are questions that most people never take the time to think about,” reminds us author Jeff Olson in, The Slight Edge.

After all, what is the point of being busy and stressed to the point of exhaustion that your health and relationships suffer, just to improve your bottom line?

Surely, there’s a more efficient way to work in the 21 century while enjoying more leisure time?

Busy people are prone to being overwhelmed if they continue to drive themselves hard. It is not healthy to run yourself into the ground and expect to stop at the drop of a hat.

Something must give. That may be as excessive drinking to help you wind down or toxic behaviours such as: compulsive eating, gambling or whatever distracts you from what is important.

We all have the same hours in the day and how you spend it is entirely up to you. Many people squander their time running around believing they are productive, when they are simply busy due to their lack of organisation and prioritisation.

“We are so busy being enticed by our next endeavour that we forget to savour what is already there and could be deeply meaningful. It is useful to remember the adage “The more things change, the more they remain the same” avows author Bernard Roth in, The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life.

A better way to reframe busyness is to state you are productive or engaged in what you are doing. Conversely, communicating you have taken on more than you can handle, is a step towards reclaiming your lost time.

This is not a cry for help, but exposing your vulnerability to those willing to help you better manage your time.

Find ways to be less busy and more engaged so you are in Flow, as the Hungarian psychology Professor, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi espouses.

Busyness is a not indicative of a rewarding life if all you are doing is jumping from one task to the next.

Those who manage their time successfully hold on to it like it was their last breath. They prioritise what is important and so should you.

I invite you to think with the end in mind as Stephen R. Covey conveys in his teachings.

Only then will you appreciate what really matters and worth devoting your time and energy towards.

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Fun Games to Play With Children, 10 Spontaneous Games to Enrich Their Lives

1. NATURE BRACELETS

For Ages: 1-5

You can start your little one’s exploration and appreciation of nature with this game of making a masking tape nature bracelet. They’ll notice all the lovely color and shape variations there are in petals and leaves and adorn their wrists with beauty.

MATERIALS:

Masking tape

Leaves and flower petals

DIRECTIONS:

Wrap a piece of masking tape around your child’s wrist, sticky side up, and then go exploring to find wonderful leaves, beautiful flower petals and other interesting things to attach to the bracelet.

Before bedtime, snip the bracelet off and attach it next to his bed or somewhere in view so he can admire his work and remember his fun time.

2. RING OF STRING

For Ages:3-10 years

In this game, children are encouraged to really look closely at one spot and see all there is to see. There is a lot of pleasure to be had from noticing the tiny wonders of nature that are in our own back yard.

MATERIALS:

String

Magnifying glass or jar with water in it (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Make a small circle on the ground with the string. Look carefully at the enclosed area with your child and notice what is growing there. Pull out a weed or blade of grass and see what the roots looks like. Is there a seedpod in the area? What’s inside?

Poke a hole and see if there are any insects around. What are they? What are they doing? Use a magnifying glass or a jar with water in it and look at different things up close.

Gather small things to examine and collect such as pinecones, acorns, petals, seeds, bark, leaves and pretty pebbles.

3. A SPOTLIGHT IN THE DARK

For Ages 1-5 years

Babies are fascinated with anything new. It’s fun for us to be with a little one when she discovers something for the first time. In this game it’s the delight of a flashlight in the dark

MATERIALS:

One or two flashlights

DIRECTIONS:

Keep the lights off in the room that you are in and scan the room with a flashlight, spotlighting different familiar things. “Look there’s the television. Here is the table and there is your high chair.”

You know your little one is going to want a chance to hold the flashlight. Let her. She can shine it wherever she wants or she has to find, with her flashlight, an object you name.

As she gets older and more coordinated, continue this game, but this time you both have flashlights and you encourage her to “catch” your spotlight. You move your spotlight around the room and she has to move hers so it “catches” yours by covering your spotlight with hers.

Your turn to chase next.

4. THE KNOCKING GAME

For: All Ages

Listening to and identifying the different sounds objects make when you knock on them is a game that can be played at any time. When you want to change the focus of fussing children, try saying: “Hey, let’s play a game. Close your eyes and see if you can tell what I’m knocking on. No peeking”

MATERIALS:

Common objects found around the house

DIRECTIONS:

Ask your player to close her eyes and turn her back to you. Then see if she can guess the object you are knocking on with your fist (or a spoon). Start with easy things such as a table and a window, and work towards sounds that are harder to identify, such as knocking on a book or lamp.

Take turns being the identifier and the “knocker”.

5. TOOTHPICK ART

For: All Ages

There are many ways to teach the hands to have more finesse. This is one of them that you can play together.

MATERIALS:

Toothpicks, plain or colored

DIRECTIONS:

Make an abstract design by laying toothpicks out on a table or floor, with each player adding their toothpick to the design. The first player puts down one toothpick. The next player adds his at just the angle that seems pleasing to him. The next person then adds theirs to that design and so on and so on until an interesting design is formed.

Instead of an abstract design, you can make a specific scene. For example, make a house with a picket fence and trees.

!It takes concentration to pick up a skinny toothpick and decide the best place to put it. Placing each toothpick down carefully and trying not to jiggle the design encourages awareness of hand movements.

It also develops the pincer grasp, the small muscles that control the index finger and thumb.

But mainly, it’s fun to make art together.

6. TOE STEPPING

For: All Ages

Here’s a fun and silly game that requires concentration and quick movement. Try it sometime at a birthday party gathering, when you want to redirect excess energy, or when the kids are bored and want something quick and new to do.

MATERIALS:

None but fancy footwork

DIRECTIONS:

Two people, both barefoot or in stocking feet, face each other and hold hands. Each person tries to step on the others toes while at the same time keep their toes from being stepped on.

You might remind the players to step lightly on each other’s toes so that others will do the same to you. In other words, follow this game’s Golden Rule: Step on others as you would want to be stepped on.

Concentrating on both keeping out of the way and going for the goal is a kind of trial by fire. Pressure on their foot lets them know when they weren’t paying close enough attention!

7. BALLOON BASEBALL

For Ages: 1-5

Baseball may be fun but those balls can hurt and are hard to hit. For young ones, use a balloon!

MATERIALS:

Balloon

Bat: Make a bat out of anything handy, such as the inside cardboard tube of a paper towel roll or a rolled up section of yesterdays newspaper secured with tape

DIRECTIONS:

. Give the bat to your player and toss the balloon to her. The slow movements of a balloon floating towards her gives her plenty of time to line up her bat, swing at the ‘ball” and get the satisfaction of “connecting.”

If there is just the two of you, take turns being the pitcher/catcher and the batter.

If there are other players, their job is catching the “ball” as it leisurely floats down. Who ever catches it can have the next turn at batting or give it to someone who hasn’t had enough turns.

After everyone gets all the turns they want, you can change the game to “Golf”. Use boxes turned on their sides as “holes” and players see how many strokes it takes to hit the balloon in the box.

8. BACK WRITING

For Ages: 5-12 years

Writing invisible letters on a child’s back a fun way to write a secret message.

MATERIALS:

Paper

Pencil

DIRECTIONS:

One person sits with his back to another and a pad of paper and pencil in front of him.

The other person, using his finger, “draws” a letter on the person’s back.

At the same time, that person draws on the paper what he thinks is being drawn on his back.

Keep writing letter by letter until a whole message is given. The message could be a clue to where a treat is hidden!

Take turns so both the writer and the person written on get to experience what it feels like.

Have an older child play this game with a younger sibling as a fun way to help him learn his letters.

9. SELF PORTRAITS

For Ages: Teens

Many teenagers go through a phase where they become fascinated with their reflection in the mirror, especially during the period when their faces make that change from a child’s to a young adult’s.

In this activity, you and your changing child can take advantage of this fascination by drawing your mirror reflection

MATERIALS:

Mirror

Felt tip marker

Paper (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Both of you sit facing a mirror and draw your reflection directly on the mirror using a felt-tip marker.

You can also draw each other’s on paper but don’t look at the paper until the drawing is done. This often gives a kind of Picasso look to the work

10. SHOE MOUNTAIN

For: All Ages

When the kids are bored but antsy with energy, here is a quickie that is guaranteed to win the hearts of all ages. Your twelve year old will l be just as excited to play this game as your two year old.

MATERIALS:

Shoes

DIRECTIONS

Pile all the shoes you can readily find in a pile in a large cleared out space in the room. Tell the kids that this is not a pile of shoes (silly them to think that!) but is actually a huge mountain and they have to start from a distance away and run towards the mountain and then with one gigantic leap, make it over the top of the mountain to the other side.

It adds to the thrill if the others provide a drum roll–slapping their hands on the floor or on a table or on their knees as the next Leaper makes her run and then when that person is in the air, call out her name!

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The Difference Between Digital Books and Ebooks

Most people today, don’t know the difference between a digital book and an ebook. In fact, many people think they are one and the same. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. They are entirely different species of the same animal.

Digital books

Digital books, sometimes also called electronic books or PDF books, are scanned, digital facsimiles of standard printed, published books. You can think of them as enhanced copies of the actual hard or paperback books we have come to know and love.

When we are talking about the digital version of newer publications, they are pretty much identical to the original. When talking about old or even ancient publication, they are much better than any original you would find on the shelf of your local library. Since they are facsimiles of the original printing, this really increases quality and helps overcome the problems of many older books, such as yellowed pages, stains, see-through or onion skin type paper, colored paper, brown inks, etc. These are scanned pages, not ‘copied’ pages, and the quality of print truly represents a better quality than the print of the original book.

The great majority of digital books come in PDF format, though Amazon offers a Kindle edition, Mobipocket offers the MOBI version, then there is the plain TEXT format, as well as many others.

Digital books are usually far less expensive than their hard or paperback counterparts, and there are hardly ever shipping costs, unless they are delivered on a CD (Compact Disk).

Ebooks

Ebooks are digital books too, but they were designed and written for the internet. Many, if not most ebooks were never officially “published” at all, unless you count posting something on the internet as publishing.

Most ebooks were meant to be written quickly, with little or no expenses except for possibly distribution. The majority are short, almost always less than 100 pages, usually under 50 pages. Some ebooks are literally slapped together in a matter of hours. Often they are little more than several short reports combined together.

Many ebooks are self-help books, or manuals of some kind, though there are some eBook works of history and fiction to be found if you look for them. More often than not, they have little or no literary value, their intentions being the distribution of facts, instructions and/or ideas.

Sometimes you may come across the eBook version of a hard or soft cover book. It will even be called the “ebook version” of whatever book. But if you look closer, you will find that this eBook version is almost always far fewer pages than the original. You may as well call the “ebook version” the “condensed version” of the book.

Though you will find many ebooks in PDF format, much like digital books, but many come as various generic interactive applications. But don’t let the initial attraction of interaction fool you. Even if this sounds like high tech education at first, you will find that there is not much to the promise of interaction. It just disguises the fact that these books are short, technically no more than a few pages, with little to no real practical, and even less academic value.

Last but not least, ebooks are often free or cheap, though you will occasionally find some specialty instruction “programs” costing hundred of dollars.

Conclusion

Technically, ebooks are digital books, though practically there is a big difference. Personally, I usually prefer a digital book to its eBook cousin.

By Thomas A. Retterbush

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