THE CHOICE FOR LIFE

By Terry Carter, Editor

When you were a child, what inspired and powered you each day? Why did you fly out of bed each morning?

Were you:

A) Filled with energy 24 hours a day, always chasing the next game, party or thrilling ride because of the fun? If so, you may have played sports or joined dance, band/orchestra or theater classes as soon as possible.

B) The curious one who liked to read, study, get ahead of homework and evaluate opportunities/situations? If so, you were a strong student and enjoyed learning new hobbies, skills.

C) Did you join the events already organized or started by family and friends and let others show the way? If so, you may also have been the peacemaker in your family. You were the glue for your family.

D) Or did you play leader of the pack as a child with all of your friends trying to keep up with you and the trends you established? If this was your natural strength, you made the bold choices without regret and adjusted strategy to win games, contests and really just control the room.

Nearly all of us have two of these four characteristics as a personal strength, and they work together as a team to make us the person our friends and family loved when we were young. Trouble is, not all of us find a career with our born strengths. We often have to learn new skills like organization, promptness, setting an alarm clock and being nice to co-workers to earn and keep a job.

Still some skills feel like a cage that boxes us in, so we cannot grow to our potential. If you had those characteristics as a child/student, you probably don’t feel tied down by your gifts.

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With your answers in mind, now consider: Are you using that personal strengths in your current life and career that helped you grow into a valuable adult? Odds are that nearly half of you are not using your natural strengths.

About two decades ago, I was recruited to work at a technical support call center in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a significant change from my journalism career and customer service background. I entered the job with a natural strength combo that was fun-loving and ready to lead a team.

Call center work, however, focuses on analysis, deductive reasoning and troubleshooting with great customer service. I could have failed at that position because it didn’t suit my natural strengths. But I was looking for a new opportunity at the time — ALERT: fun-loving people get bored easily, and leaders leave jobs if they are not given growth opportunities — was eager to learn something new.

So I sat at a desk and took incoming calls on computer problems, but my fun-loving side got to play Nerf basketball and video games while solving major hardware/software issues. In retrospect, I can attest that my analytical skills are now among my best skills that I can draw on in any situation. It was semi built-in like my base characteristics because I have always been very good with numbers.

Conclusion: If you are working and using your childhood strengths at full force, congratulations. You probably have good self-esteem and knew your advantages in life before you picked a college and career path.

If you have switched away from your natural strengths, you have two options: Enjoy the journey and learn all you can from this new opportunity.

Or investigate the true strengths in your childhood and reconnect with those super powers. If you were a follower, you can become a leader again without departing a quality employer or partner. Keep your eyes open for a chance to plug-in one of your dormant powers. The world will thank you.

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My advice to 98 percent of adults is to remember your childhood and the happiest times. Whatever you did on those days will still bring you joy today. So do the homework and chase personal happiness over career happiness.

We all know a lot of unhappy coworkers or bosses who never seem to smile or enjoy the moment. That attitude sucks, friend. It hurts that person’s health and the attitude — if not the health — of everyone they come in contact with.

Since you are likely interest in living your best life and not a miserable waste of time, I suggest we all actively pursue happiness at home, when we look in the mirror, when we drive and at work.

Let your smile come out and play. Studies are showing that happy people are more productive, even if they spend extra time playing on the Wii or meditating. And a happy office — hey boss, this is in your hands too — not only works better together, but the employees are more loyal and they go out of their way to help coworkers.

Let the leaders lead. Let the peacemakers lead too because they are not confrontational; it is a sweet change to the Type-A hot head.

Bottom Line: We are all magnificently made with unique and wonderful talents. Don’t hide your glory. Let it shine and share your perspective, wisdom and skills with those around you. This is another way to improve our little blue planet.

 

 

 

 

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HOW BAD IS HEARTBREAK?

By Terry Carter

When we are young, many of us think we are invincible. Then we suffer heartbreak and slowly begin to realize we are not quite bulletproof.

I remember being paralyzed while enduring a traumatic breakup years ago. It was among the lowest moments in my life. I felt helpless, always angry and desperate for a solution. Every day was a “Don’t bother me” nightmare.

If you are there now, know that time soothes most, but not all, pain. Lessons are learned from being in pain, particularly long-term pain like a lost love.

I once thought that my heartbreak would last forever. However I worked on my mindset, my vulnerability, my frustration and my healing until I was ready to test the dating world again. As with most painful events, personal determination to play the long game was the redeeming quality that helped the most.

That and God’s grace to ease my pain.

And somewhere around November 1984, I met a beautiful, petite blonde with a strong, spunky personality. She was kind, considerate and playful. She has changed my world for the better for about 33 years. Without the my future spouse taking my hand, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

She has been a huge blessing in so many ways.

Have we always been blessed with good fortune and amazing gifts from heaven? In the short term, the answer often appears to be no as people always disagree. We are all human after all.

But step back from my latest squabble with a human being, and I can see that Suzie is a lifetime blessing. She has managed to deal with me for three decades, and I have grown exponentially at certain times in mental and philosophical ways. So that can be hard to deal with.

Plus I began working out consistently and learning to run again after an injury some six years ago. Surgery, rehab, changing diets, diabetes, work schedules and 100 other things pull us in opposite directions.

Yet I love Suzie, and she still lets me take her to dinner. That’s pretty good when boredom, restlessness and worse are exceptionally common among a lot of people our age.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

For those of you hoping to keep your relations alive for the long term, cry when your loved one is sad. Cheer when they are happy. And share love every change you get (verbal approval or a hug or a sympathetic ear may be all they need for the moment).

Stay in moment and really try to hear what your loved one says to you. You likely don’t have all the answers, and you shouldn’t. But be willing to give 100 percent to search for the lost screwdriver or finger nail polish if you are asked. It makes an impression on the heart of the person you love the most.

I sincerely recommend you don’t take advantage of or manipulate your loved one as these things leave long-lasting emotional scars. That’s a Type-A or immature maneuver that sinks boats — and relationships — pretty quick.

I am a firm believer in hope, faith and prayer to solve the toughest problems — and to thank the Lord for his daily miracles. Recently meditation, which still gets curious looks from even friends, neighbors and my loving spouse, helps me to focus on what is truly important in life.

It is my way of discarding stress that accumulates daily and allows free radicals to damage our health, our best thinking and creativity.

While heartbreak cannot always avoided, I recommend that your prayers or meditation can often conclude by asking God to allow the Holy Spirit (aka fate) to rule the day for the greater good.

If a breakup today benefits you moving from LA to New York and eventually meeting the person you marry, don’t wait 10 years to say thank you for the breakup and the move. Try acknowledging God’s path even when its purpose is totally bewildering to you today.

By accepting life’s oddities as God’s move to benefit us or people we care about, the future can often look more worthwhile both today and in the future. What happens will happen. How you respond determines whether the happening was a victory or a defeat in your mind.

 

 

FUN-AND-GAMES THERAPY

Suffering from depression or just the blahs of life? We all have moments when life appears to let us down, taking all hope away.

Breakups, divorces, deaths and more tragedy occurs. I have recently lost my mother and father. Despite initial dejection and some mourning, I found a way to bounce back stronger than ever from life’s letdowns. And today I have become happier, healthier and more content with life. 

How? I have tried many methods to contentment and bliss with some success, possibly because I was a happy, fun kid. But the deep-down, soulful happiness that everyone sees because it pours out of you was more difficult to obtain. Still I knew friends like this, and I had the choice to conclude they were either; A-Fake; or B-A source of inspiration.

While analytical at times, I rode my faith and chose option B, which proved to be a good first step toward toward positivity. I discovered over time that positive self-talk — that is, the discussions we have with ourselves — in good times and bad is a primary strategy to overcome any hurdle in life. 

Acclaimed therapist Marisa Peer is renowned for solving major issues for people after their doctors have determined they to be long-term patients whose issue cannot be resolved without years of additional appointments. Having met Marisa in Spain in June, I can confirm that is an amazingly intelligent and one of the world’s best therapists. Additionally Britain’s top therapist is well known as a trendsetter among therapists because she can often resolve long-treated issues within 60 minutes and has helped women become pregnant after their doctors told them they could never have a child.

Marisa ranks as one who does not mince words. When speaking one-on-one in Barcelona, she focused completely on each person in front of her and helped them promptly when asked. Instead of asking you to talk about your childhood, family and troubles for months as a standard therapist or counselor might, Marisa assesses and then solves situations with astounding efficiency.

She has inspired my progress in life, and I place her on a special list I categorize as “angels” to many of us who have met her, watched her mind-blowing video “The Biggest Disease Affecting Humanity: I Am Not Enough” on YouTube or read any of Marisa’s practical books. 

Beyond focusing on finding a positive attribute to everything in my life (a rain day helps plants, trees grow tall, for example), I resolved to become content where I am at the moment. Not an easy task, but I know it’s important not to envy everyone else’s life and hate your own environment. 

Now these two key elements are not and never will be easy as you start. I struggled with stating what I wanted in my life and with smiling at my own situation, despite my background in psychology. I believe all of us have a test to take every week that is part of earning a Master’s in Maturity. Fail the test in front of you today, and the same test will arrive on your plate again next week.

That outlook helped me enormously to review my mistakes, personal weaknesses and to tackle those weaknesses as a priority. Step three in solving problems in this life is to take a self inventory and know yourself in every detail.

Know your strengths, weaknesses and what ruins your day, as well as what makes you angry. With that information, you can begin to avoid moments that you lose control. For me a knee injury gave me the focus I needed to direct my focus on making my biggest weaknesses into my greatest strengths. After four years of self-directed physical therapy, I have strengthened my knees to a point I can now walk, jog and even run a 5K race and still have energy left.

Start with these proactive steps, and you will begin to see that everyone can improve their outlook and their life in general. As you will see, you and I often determine our own destination in life by how we think subconsciously and therefore consciously. Improve one area, and you will improve all areas of life.

More steps on the way in future blogs here at 3FORADIME.WORDPRESS.COM 

 

POOR MAN #2

By Terry Carter, Editor

A poor man knows only that he needs money desperately while a rich man has options. The poor man is often backed into a corner either to receive medical care (aka Wake Up! Obamacare does not provide affordable medical insurance for anyone paying a deductible) or feed his family (Damn! Food prices are still sky rocketing). 

What defines a poor man? To begin with, if you can save 10 percent of your income each month, your cost-to-income ration is at least favorable. That demonstrates discipline on your part. But being poor suggests more than a low income — and it’s subjective.

  • WHERE DOES POOR REALLY BEGIN?

For my friend George or most veteran engineers/executives of the oil and gas world, poor is a state of mind when your annual income has been six figures for more than a decade. $50,000 may be broke for them, but it would simultaneously be a gold mine for a janitor, receptionist. 

It all depends of your spending habits (whims), insurance and other expenses and how it compares to your income. If the income falls, the whims (aka glitter toys) go first. But when you have stopped the following, and you still don’t have money for rent, groceries or medical insurance and/or medicines — all of these are items I say are necessities — then you have reached the poor category in my book.

When you have done the following and still cannot find money for your savings account, you are temporarily among the poor: A) Stop eating out at all; B) Disconnect cable or satellite TV; C) Stop professionally grooming your pets; D) Request and purchase only generic medications where possible; E) Use the lowest-priced gasoline on your route home; F) Re-invent your canceled gym membership by walking at the park; G) Divide every check into bills due now and mortgage/rent due on the 1st; H) Take the ATM withdrawal cash of your wallet and put it back in the bank — whether it’s coffee, doughnuts, gambling, cigarettes or liquor, it’s a waste if money is this tight.

So how did you do? I have used, at times, each of these techniques to survive financially in my life, and so far, my spouse has not shot, departed or fired me. We have become home owners and made upper-middle income cash. But I have also been unemployed for months, in the hospital for others and just made bad choices. No one makes perfect choices, however…

If you fit the general “poor” financial picture at this moment and have not implemented the starting suggestions listed above — those are just a measuring stick to determine how poor you currently are — plug them in. They work for all ages, sizes, sexes, styles, backgrounds. 

Plug those in, use them daily for 1-2 months and monitor your balance carefully. Is any deduction showing up, and you are not aware of its origin, timing? If so, put an end to it immediately or close your bank account. I recently eliminated an automatic account renewal by Active.com that started when I signed up for a 5K racemore than a year ago. I was shocked to find it — it is a byproduct of online shopping. So be careful having any site remember your credit card.

After careful evaluation — and yes, I know some of you are shaking your head YES already — you may know these changes and others are still leaving your balance in the red. Therefore you feel poor — trust me, it’s temporary if you options exist. Two quick choices here, and both rest solely on your shoulders: A) Get Serious about finding a higher-paying career;  B) Either sell the extra items you are no longer using (aka: Art, old equipment, gear, collectibles) or step up with a side gig like teaching dance lessons, singing or being a DJ. Even $200 a month can save you from sleeping in your old truck with no heat nor A/C.

  • THE RICHER SIDE OF POOR

Imagine you make $100,000 annually and have for 20 years. It’s a safe bet you would have upped your spending on vehicles, perhaps a home and non-essentials like a pool, boat or condo if you currently make half of that or less. Based on the American Dream of generations gone by, owning a home would be a natural purchase for most people with this 6-figure income. As would a nice newer vehicle every 4-5 years, like a Lexus or Infinity. 

Reality check: After a modest home purchase (30-year mortgage/ monthly payments between $900-1,800) and a upscale vehicle, the 6-figure income now requires you to live on the same  budget as a less well off person with a used Honda and living in an apartment. The new car/SUV is costing about $700-1,200/month depending on your downpayment. Combined you are spending about $2,500+ of a monthly income of $8,000 on those two items. And one excess leads to another. I’m hoping, if this is you, you have a $2,000-$3,000 minimum going to your 401/IRA.  Those items aside, Mr. Six figures now has about $3,500-$4,000 to buy the necessities and service the pretty Lexus, which requires pricy service work that starts at $200+ for oil changes.

You see those vehicles in your garage each week, and you know the people who climb out — whether married or single — likely used their credit to buy those fancy rides when a Honda or Toyota would have worked for half the price.

Credit cards account for the downfall of even the wealthy people in your world. When your wealthy neighbor has his vehicle repossessed or loses his home, the options are few: A) A primary income vanished; B) Mortgage company screwed you; C) Lucky Significant Other has departed; or D) The World as you know it is about to end.

Either way, even billionaires can identify with broke. Donald Trump was pretty close once. Back on Earth, however, any of us can feel broke if we can a pay cut, lose a job (even on an unpaid day off) or transfer to a new position, only to discover the pay rate  or hours worked does not benefit you.

But you are not truly broke if you can still pay for gas, groceries, your abode, medications and a few other items. Bottom Line: We can all be dead broke within days, weeks or 3-6 months unless we are millionaires. And studies prove that very, very few of us save even $500/month, and even fewer still have 3-6 months of income if employment or then niche field falls apart.

More on this another day…

WHAT MAKES YOU BETTER

By Terry Carter, Editor

Personality tests are fun games to play on the Internet. They appear meaningless. Most of us don’t take them seriously. However we all have strengths, tendencies, preferences and weaknesses that affect us each day of our lives. 

Knowing your personality or style is a major step forward in improving your skills, relationships and ultimately your future. Likewise as you understand personality traits, you will begin to comprehend your micro-managing boss not as a monster, but as a detail-oriented leader. By simply crossing your Ts and double checking your match, you will improve his view of you.

At home, it’s a good bet that 1-in-4 children gives you fits because they are nearly a mirror image of your personality, and two strong leaders will clash in the same household until they learn to respect each other and co-exist. In my family, stubbornness and leadership are strengths — and potential weaknesses — of each child. Each reminds me of a certain grandmother who most certainly would have bent any personality profile to a new setting on personal strength and a go-getter attitude.

Let me explain that I love each of my children with every breath in my body, and I would gladly sacrifice myself for them. Each is massively blessed with gifts and wisdom that would make every parent proud. All three will change the world as they remember to dream big dreams and to chase them because that is why God placed them on this Earth.

The oldest child is a natural leader, and she has flourished as an adult because she also is dependable and cares. She does not quit and is blessed with a natural ability to troubleshoot many issues. Her future is extremely bright in any industry, and she has now tied the knot with a hard-working young man. I admire her take-charge skills, her fix-it-now mentality and her potential.

The middle child is gifted as an artist, and he possesses the wisdom of a philosopher. He prefers to choose his own path and his own hours. And he bravely chose his unique path by moving to Hawaii for several years. It is a move I may have made after high school if the opportunity had beckoned. I admire his independence, his creativity and his enthusiasm.

The youngest child is the peace keeper from her childhood. Athletically gifted, she has been graced with a maturity that is equal to or even beyond her psychology-trained father. She has learned so much through trial-and-error that she now shares her wisdom with people to assist them in their daily lives. She is an inspiration to those younger and older. It is my assessment that her writing and speaking skills, among many others, will help her reach out to many more people in the future. I admire her growth and stability each day she improves her life.

This talented threesome are all unique and motivated by different forces. Yet their love for each other has never been as strong as it is now. It is all we as parents could hope for after watching the bickering, arguing and fussing among three young children.

As far as your personality goes, all of us have four behavioral tendencies, but in differing intensities. The names used vary greatly, but their meanings are similar. Most have two strengths that complement each other, such as a strong leader with detailed tendencies or a mellow person who likes attending parties, but not organizing them. Please keep in mind, all of the traits described below are neither good nor bad. They can truly be huge advantages.

Leadership Traits: Whether you call it choleric, dominance or power, this is the ability to lead, to take charge, to conquer in pursuit of a goal. Leaders lead, right? Not true. Leaders all have areas where they lead best. And as leaders mature and surround themselves with other talented leaders, they learn that it is not always necessary to lead from sunrise to sunset. Delegating becomes the better decision.

Peace Maker Traits: The opposite of a leader is a peace keeper, the individual who builds and keeps teams together. Normally this person is quiet and goes along with the leader’s decisions. They don’t rock the boat, but they are key to keeping the boat afloat in their own, subtle way.

Spontaneous Traits: The spontaneous one works on the fly and makes constant adjustments. They work better without a micro-managed plan. Give them a few genera guidelines, aim them at a goal and launch them away. This individual persuades with fun or entertainment. 

Planner Traits: Given a chance, planners plan everything, including their clothing, their route to work, their meals, the number of steps to their desk — everything. While great plans can lead to great success. Time constraints minimize planning.

Now here is your first test: Which of these general descriptions fits you best? Which is second? Third? Fourth? Most of you have two strong characteristics because they are like four points on the compass, N, E, S, W. You cannot really go east and west simultaneously, can you?

Apparently it can be done by a small minority of people — about two percent of the population. The DISC Behavior Profile focuses on dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness. I took this test in 2013 and scored above a dominant 5.0 on 3-of-4 behavioral patterns. Based on natural traits, I should have scored that strong in only two areas. But I improved my results through years of intentional focused training in planning/organizational traits. 

You control your destiny. And when you understand how people around you think and respond to situations, you will be much better able to win in the game of life day in and day out. Best of luck out there.

Rebel Alliance

All of us are rebels, and that rule-breaking, anti-establishment side of us sparks our greatest achievements. Some 

Your greatest strengths — include competitiveness, pride, self-esteem, endurance/durability, guts and decisiveness — are mostly derived from your ability to prove someone wrong. It may be polite when you say “Thank you” as they hand you a (last-place) PARTICIPANT ribbon and given the next person a STATE CHAMPION trophy. But in your heart, you are boiling over, awaiting your chance for redemption. 

Everyone knows defeat in athletics, business and relationships. Those who get back up and improve themselves are rebels. They will not sit idly by and coast to last place again. A real competitor may appear calm, but they are  may be turning red 

Texans know the Texas Revolution’s Alamo  Siege is a tale of feisty rebels who simply told Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna to take his mission and shove it despite only a slim chance of survival. That rebellious spirit has inspired Texans since 1835 and colonists during the American Revolution. 

We are friendly people, but everyone has a limit. When you cross it however, as Santa Anna did at the Alamo, customer service goes out the window. 

In today’s allegedly more sophisticated society, men and women are encouraged to walk away from conflict. But great achievements by great people are not created by walking away from difficult situations. In recent movies, even the Marvel Avenger super heroes are beaten down and required to get up again, re-group and try again. Many solid films have screenplays based on an outcast being locked away or thrown out of proper society. Then that rebel must overcome vast challenges to save their society or their planet.

While calm abritration is stylish and sleek, rebels stir the pot and make the meals cook. So many are standing in a corner playing “Yes Man” to the supervisor just because he/she believes they are right. Think about it. If you are just there to agree with the boss, what true contribution are you making to help your company or family? 

Step up and do your best work at home and in the office. Live by these simple rules and your will find your rebellious side has a productive outlet — and you won’t have to resort to espionage or telling your boss to shove it:

  • Go the second mile. Work harder and smarter than anyone.
  • Show integrity in all your do. Be kind, but always truthful in your interactions.
  • Never assume you have all the answers; pray for guidance.
  • Trust, but verify, that work is being done as well as possible.
  • Love everyone. Expect nothing in return.
  • Crosstrain your mind, your body, your spirit and your heart for future challenges. Be prepared for anything.