Things Traveling Teaches You

20160704_173607I read an article the other day called 10 Things Traveling Teaches You That School Doesn’t and it made me think about my first trip to Europe in 2000. It was for a fine art class through Mount St. Mary’s College. I went “by myself” or rather with a group of perfect strangers. We went to Prague, Salzberg, Vienna and Munich for 12 days. We had the option of having a roommate (that I didn’t know) or paying an extra $400 for a single room. Needless to say I paid the extra money. I think it was a 1 or 2 unit class and our only homework assignment was to put together a scrapbook and share it in class when we returned from the trip. That was back when we took pictures with film and actually printed them out and glued them into photo albums.

One of my favorite memories from the trip happened in Prague. The city is divided up into these districts. 4 of us were on the street car going back to our hotel from being out and about. Which I think was in like district 2 or 3. Somehow we ended up in district 8. Waaaay outside of the tourist area. We got off the train near this stadium at a McDonald’s. I mean. It’s McDonald’s someone should be able to help. We walked in and I swear they had never seen real live Black people before. It was like the whole restaurant came to a complete and screeching halt. No one in the place spoke a bit of English or had any idea what we were trying to say. So we went back outside and looked at the map and just tried to figure it out for ourselves. People on the street walked by and stared at us. Awed by the sight. Black people in Prague! The funniest part of the whole ordeal was there was a huge Michael Jordan Nike billboard above the stadium. Those same people probably passed that billboard every day and never gave it a second thought but 2 Black people standing under it, now that was a sight to see!

I don’t even remember the names of all of the women in this picture. They may not even remember me. But they are tied to one my most memorable life lessons. One that I only had because I was in a foreign country interacting with people a little over 10 years after the end of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall had fallen. The borders had opened up and my Black ass was walking the streets of Prague. Maybe a little kid went home that day and said “hey dad, I saw a Black lady today!” And that Black lady was me! When you travel you open yourself up to other cultures and in turn you open them up to you. You take a little piece of them home with you. You leave a little piece of you where ever you go.

As I was preparing to write this post I looked back through my scrapbook. I wanted to include some of the pictures. But ummm. They are in a SCRAPBOOK! So I did what we modern people do and I took pictures of the pages with my phone.

تتطلب عرض الشرائح هذه للجافا سكريبت.

And that made me realize how much the digital age sucks! I never keep things like this any more – room keys and receipts and ticket stubs. How do you keep those things in your Google Photos? And even though I printed up a photo book when I got back from Cape Town it still isn’t the same. It is just so… perfect and digital.

 


The 10 Most Important Things to Prioritize if You Want to Be Successful

Business cares about enterprise.

Leadership cares about people.

Entrepreneurship cares about flexibility.

Creativity cares about innovation.

What you care about defines who you are.

When you care, you want to do your very best–and that commitment and energy are a powerful force.

If you want to be successful in your confidence, business, leadership, entrepreneurship, and creativity, be thoughtful about what you’re giving your care to.

Here are 10 areas that are well worth caring about if you want to truly succeed.

1. Care about how you treat others.
The ones you’re waving goodbye to on your way up just might be the ones you wave hello to on your way back down.

2. Care about your personal growth.
If you want to move confidently in the directions of your dreams and goals, invest your time and energy in your own personal growth. Learn to work harder on yourself than you do at any other job.

3. Care about your goals.
As the old saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish. When you care about your goals, you commit to seeing them through. People who care have clear, written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than those people who wing it.

4. Care about scaring yourself.
Most of us avoid going to places–physical and emotional–that frighten us. But when you step into the space of fear, when you befriend fear and don’t allow it to shame you, you may begin to realize that it’s not as frightening as you’d thought.

5. Care about how you spend your time.
Time is free but it’s a nonrenewable resource; once it’s lost, you can never get it back. Care for time as you would any valuable asset.

Read More – Inc.


12 Destructive Habits You Need to Stop Right Now

We all have self-destructive tendencies. There are so many reason we can come up with to talk ourselves out of doing something. We are often our own biggest enemy or critic. Before we can expect others to believe in us we must believe in ourselves. This article spoke to me in so many ways. Especially #4… reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend just today. I suggest you start with that one. I picked out a few that stood out to me. Read the article for the full list.

12 Destructive Habits You Need to Stop Right Now by Lolly Daskal

Most of us routinely underestimate our talents and skills–not deliberately, but because of self-deprecating habits. At the extreme, you can become your own worst enemy. But even a little bit of negativity toward yourself can slow you down and cause you to miss out on great opportunities. Ask yourself if you need to change any of these destructive habits:

1. You don’t believe in yourself. Self-talk is a strong force, whether it’s positive or negative. If you tell yourself “I’m not ready for that promotion” or “I could never be that disciplined” or “I don’t have the aptitude to be a boss”–if you routinely talk yourself out of your aspirations–you will not reach your potential.

2. You don’t own your unique self. It’s great to learn from those around you, but never think that what you have to offer is insignificant or that you need to copy someone else’s style or way of doing things. The things that make you uniquely you are what will make you stand out, so honor those things and own them. Mom was right: Just be yourself.

3. You care too much what other people think. Wanting to be liked and respected is basic human nature. But when you value other people’s thinking and opinions above your own, and change your behavior to reflect what you think others want to see, you’re doing harm to yourself. Nobody else is living your life, so don’t give away the power to guide it.

4. You surround yourself with negativity. You don’t have to look very hard to find people with issues–there’s always someone ready to cut down someone else’s success or dwell on the unfairness of a situation or workplace. Often what these people are masking is their own fear of failure, but allowing yourself to be exposed to their negativity will have a bad influence on you. Recognize the positive people in your life and choose your relationships carefully.

 

5. You don’t trust yourself. Whether your intuition comes from innate talent or years of experience (or both), it can work only if you have faith in it. That doesn’t mean that you don’t question or challenge your instincts–holding your gut feeling up to reality is an important part of discernment. But if you’re constantly second-guessing your own judgment, that’s a problem.

6. You don’t let yourself speak up. When you quiet your own voice, when you stop yourself from saying what you want to do or asking for what you need, your silence can be mistaken for ignorance or apathy–by others and even by yourself. Even if you feel overpowered, it’s important to say what’s on your mind.

7. You dismiss compliments. When you deflect compliments with a self-deprecating remark, you not only sell yourself short but challenge the judgment of the person complimenting you. Accepting compliments graciously doesn’t make you an egomaniac.

 

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So You Want To Be A Travel Writer


When I originally conceived the idea of TheTripFile I had that romantic notion of getting paid to travel the world and write about it. I’d fly first class, stay in 5-star hotels and write about my explorations from luxurious balconies overlooking crystal blue waters while making my readers green with envy. I’d buy a one way ticket to Europe, kiss my daddy goodbye, spend a year travelling, writing, living and being free and happy and getting all of you wonderful people to foot the bill. Yes, I really did believe I could do it. For about 5 minutes. But then I quickly realized that I’d also have to spend a lot of time planning trips, making reservations, going places I probably didn’t want to go and writing about things I probably didn’t want to write about just to earn a paycheck. The reality of travel writing isn’t really all that glamorous.  I thought I’d take trips that I wanted to take, write about them and figure out a way to make money doing that. Simple enough. In reality, travel blog posts (that make money) are usually sponsored. Companies – hotels, restaurants, tourism boards – pay bloggers to come visit their places of business and write about them. The only other way to make money off of blogs are from the ads. And no one ever clicks the ads. So writers work for the sponsors. In these instances you travel on their terms, not yours. You go where they want you to go. Now if you have a luxury blog like World of Wanderlust, then you get to paid to go to some pretty fabulous places. But again, you’re being paid to be there and for the post. So if you have a bad day or get sick or don’t feel like writing that day, um, yeah that’s not gonna work.  Brooke Saward started her blog in 2012 and has pretty much turned into an empire with contributing bloggers worldwide. But again, she’s an exception to the norm. 

You are more likely to find stories like Jo Fraser I Quit My Job To Be A Travel Writer, And Now I’m Broke And Unemployed. Jo, like me, romanticized the notion of being a travel writer and in 2014 she quit her job and went for it.  Good for her. Travel writers, like David Duran, who write and travel full time don’t really live a plush life. In his article, The Struggle Is Real — The Reality of Travel Writing, he details the reality of what it’s like to travel 90% of the month. He gave up his apartment so when he comes “home” from a trip he sleeps on someone’s couch. David is a freelance writer, not a blogger. He acknowledges that while the travel part of his job is great, it is still a job.

But the part people always forget about, or just don’t know about, is the actual work. Travel writing comes in mostly two parts, traveling and writing. Now I know everyone gets the traveling part but I constantly have to remind friends that I’m also held accountable for the second part of my job title. As easy as you may believe writing may be, it’s actually quite the contrary…and I know this from simply scrolling my Facebook feed and gasping at the ridiculousness of word vomit I see on a daily basis. As a freelancer, I write for many different audiences, and editors. I have to constantly change my style, my voice and write in a manner that won’t have my editors hating me.

I think like anything else it all boils down to passion. For me, the passion is in the travel not in the writing. I enjoy writing and telling my stories but I don’t want it to be my full-time job. And I wasn’t really willing to put in the effort that it would take to get there. What I need is a travel benefactor! But I am thankful for travel writers because I do a ton of research before I head off on a trip and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have the information available to me. But the idea that this life is some how glamorous at all times is not necessarily true. So if you have a passion for travel and you have a passion for writing then maybe this is the job for you. And I’m available if you need a travel companion!


Be Happier: How to Find Your True Passion and Purpose

We all search for greater meaning in our lives. Often that meaning comes from finding our true passion and purpose — but that’s easier said than done.

So I turned to a person who has successfully helped thousands of people find their passion and purpose: Valorie Burton, the bestselling author, speaker, life coach, and entrepreneur who helps people make major life changes, live happier lives, and achieve their professional dreams.

And that’s why Valorie Burton is another in my series of interviews related to the Strayer University Readdress Success program, an initiative intended to redefine success as “happiness derived from good relationships and achieving personal goals.” (Strayer has launched a petition through Change.org to change the Merriam-Webster definition. Sign the petition, and Strayer will donate 50 cents to Dress for Success, a nonprofit that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women.)

Passion is an overarching driver of personal growth and success. How much does the idea of passion come up in your work?

I link passion and purpose together. I think that your purpose is largely out of your passion. Passion is good, but you need to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing and I think purpose answers the question of how someone’s life can be better. When you put together your gifts — the things you’re naturally good at — and you know what you’re really passionate about… that’s where you find your purpose.

Perseverance really comes out of passion and purpose. If you don’t have passion or purpose you won’t persevere when it gets difficult. No one succeeds without facing obstacles, challenges, and setbacks.

Passion becomes the fuel that keeps you pushing forward when it doesn’t even look like things will come together.

Your background includes running a successful PR and marketing firm, and being appointed by Texas governor Rick Perry to the Governor’s Commission for Women for a two-year term. How did you become a life coach?

When I had my own PR firm, every time I would look at the vision for where we were going, I realized I was good at that, but I wasn’t passionate about it, not the way an entrepreneur should be passionate.

I think because one of my gifts is communication, PR and marketing were interesting to me, but I just couldn’t picture what that would look like 10 years down the road because I didn’t have that level of passion for it. I began seeking out what is my purpose and I had an epiphany one day at a Barnes and Noble store during a journalism convention in 1999.

It was just a sudden spiritual moment when I felt like my mission was to inspire others to live more fulfilling lives and I would do that through writing and speaking. I can’t explain it, I just remember the moment, I remember where I was standing, and I remember going back to my hotel room and writing down what I remembered. And it just made perfect sense for who I am. I’ve always liked motivation, personal growth, and helping people.

Even though I had never articulated it before, that was genuinely my mission.

Within about three weeks I started writing my first book. I finished that book in under three months and I had it in my hand by Thanksgiving and immediately started doing some media.

Read More

by Jeff Haden – INC published on: Nov 2, 2015

 


Regrets: How many of us have them?

I often hear people say that they live life with no regrets. Good for them. I have lots of regrets well maybe not regrets but things I wish I’d done differently. Not big things, but little changes I would have made early on in my adult life that probably would have made things a LOT easier right about now. But that’s a different post for a different day. But there is one thing that I know – I am in a position to implement a change in my life. And that’s what I’m doing. So if I have any regrets after this social experiment that I’m calling a life is over, then I only have myself to blame. True, I don’t have a time machine and there are some things that I can’t specifically change, but those are things I don’t regret. We all make mistakes, and those mistakes are just part of the learning curve of life.

I read this article last year and ran across it again today Those Top 37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old. The first item on the list is Not Traveling When You Had the Chance. Now you should all know by now I’m obsessed with travel. So it isn’t really a regret of mine I do wish I’d done more international travel when I was younger and had less debt, but I’m making up for that. But as I read through the list I realized that most of the items on the list are in line with what Lifestyle by Design is all about – looking at those choices that you’ve made in your life that you aren’t happy with and changing them. And most importantly, making yourself a priority. It is never too late to make even the smallest change in your life to bring you happiness and contentment. Life is too short to be unhappy. There are so many things in this world that we cannot change, why live with bad decisions that you can change? The first step is to look at that thing in your life that you want to change and ask yourself “what is the worst thing that will happen if I make this change?” Then ask yourself “how will my life be better or enriched if I make this change?”  Once you do that you will often find that the worst thing may be bad or scary, but the good thing will be so much better!

There are many items on this list that I have done in my life and therefore I don’t regret, so out of the 37 items on the list, these are my Top 10 Regrets (That I CAN and WILL change!)

  1. Being scared to do things
  2. Failing to make physical fitness a priority
  3. Supporting others’ dreams over your own
  4. Not volunteering enough
  5. Failing to finish what you start
  6. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network
  7. Not being grateful sooner
  8. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment
  9. Not learning another language
  10. Caring too much what other people think

I believe the only regrets that we will truly have are those decisions that we feel were taken out of our hands; those decisions that you made based on someone else’s idea of what was best for you. If you leave this earth knowing that the life that you lived was 100% designed by you, how can you have regrets?


7 WAYS TO OVERCOME FEAR AND LIVE YOUR DREAMS

I’ve realized that as you start to become more self-aware you also become more aware of those around you. And during that process you notice that people are for lack of a better word, sad. You notice people going through lots of motions and creating lots of drama and buying lots of stuff to keep from getting to the heart of the matter – they aren’t happy. The majority of the time this lack of happiness stems from one source, not being true to yourself. People often make life decisions for a variety of reasons, and we’ve all done it. “My mom wanted to be a dancer and couldn’t, so I’m a dancer.” “There are 3 generations of lawyers in my family so I have to be a lawyer.” Some people make these choices and are completely fine with their decisions and live truly happy lives. But for others, life can be a constant battle between what is and what could have been. Some people are in constant rivalry with friends and family that don’t even know they are in competition.  I believe that it is never too late to be happy and live the life of your dreams. I’m not saying that at 50 you can become a prima ballerina, but you can classes and immerse yourself in all things ballet. You can do whatever you want! Don’t let fear of the unknown or fear of what others might say get in your way. It’s your life! Live it the way YOU want to.

 7 WAYS TO OVERCOME FEAR AND LIVE YOUR DREAMS

Anais Nin once wrote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”. If you’re longing to expand your life by going after your dreams, here are 7 ways to overcome fear which may be keeping you stuck.

  1. Shine the light on your fear. – Pinpoint the fear that’s plaguing you the most — about your body, finances, love life, career, dreams or yourself — and hold it up to the light of your awareness. Ask yourself honestly: Is this thought really true? Can I know for sure? Is there another way of looking at this? What would the highest version of me say about this? Remember, the word thought is not synonymous with the word truth. Your thoughts are not necessarily true or important and you don’t have to take them so seriously. Think of them like passing clouds in the sky — they come and they go. Your true self is the ever-present observer who watches your fear-based thoughts as they pass by.
  1. Reframe fear as excitement. – To your body and nervous system, fear and excitement are almost indistinguishable. So feel your fear as excitement running up and down your body. The most successful people in the world don’t feel fear less than everyone else — they just don’t interpret fear as a stop sign. They feel the fear and proceed anyway, because they want their dream life more than they want to avoid the feeling of fear.
  1. Use a mantra. – The phrase “this too shall pass” is a great mantra to use whenever you feel fear rising in your body making you hesitant to take action. It can help you remember that fear is a natural and temporary response in your body which rises and falls away like a wave in the ocean. When you realize it will pass, you don’t have to feel so afraid of experiencing it anymore. Of course you’re probably going to feel fear in a new situation or when you’re taking a chance on a dream or goal — that’s okay. Use the mantra to center yourself and move forward anyway.
  1. Remember the bigger picture. – Fear feels uncomfortable but in most cases, it won’t really harm you — but attempting to avoid the experience of fear will — because you are robbing yourself of the chance to experience the deep satisfaction which comes with listening to your heart and soul and creating a better life full of passion and purpose. Check in with your future self. How will you feel a year from now if you don’t take action towards your dreams? How about five or ten years from now? Remembering the bigger vision for your precious life can help you step out of your comfort zone and into the unknown.
  1. Take bold opposing action. – One of the quickest and most effective ways to overcome fear is to take one single bold step forward in the direction of your dreams, to prove to yourself that you are willing to do what it takes. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Sending one email, making one phone call, pitching one idea or writing one page can be the catalyst you need to spark massive change in your life.
  1. Write a gains list. – Our minds are often wired to focus on the ‘cons’ of our actions instead of the potential ‘pros’ or gains. To help counteract this negativity bias, write a list of all the things you stand to gain if you go after your goal or dream — like feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment, self-growth, being of service to the world, and being an inspiration to others.
  1. Anchor in the present moment. – The feeling of fear in our body is often triggered by thoughts in our mind — we are worrying about what may happen in the future, or we are creating our own negative stories about something that happened in the past — when nothing is actually threatening or disturbing us in the present moment. You can take your focus away from your thoughts by switching your focus to what is going on in the present moment. Pay attention to the sounds, sights and smells around you. Feel the energy in your hands and feet. Notice the sensation of the air on your skin or the clothing against your body. Take a few deep breaths in and out.

You should immediately experience a sense of relief, relaxation and growing inner peace. You can use the present moment as a safe haven all throughout the day, whenever your mind is triggering fear.

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12 Reasons You Should Be an Entrepreneur

Everything on this list applies to me except I’ve never been fired. I did have someone try to fire me after I’d already turned in my letter of resignation so that didn’t really count and she was crazy so yeah, I’ve never been fired. That same person also told me I have too many opinions and always expect people to do the right thing. So again there’s no big mystery in why I no longer work for her. Going out on your own is a scary thing. I’m a Libra so I never want to do anything alone. If it weren’t for Norma talking to me every single day for the last year and half and agreeing to flee the IRS with me I’m not sure I would have been as brave as I like to believe that I am.  I know that I would have eventually left regardless. But having a partner to go into business with definitely made the decision and transition much easier.

12 Reasons You Should Be an Entrepreneur by Grant Cardone 

Look, there are roughly 36 million articles on the Internet today that suggest entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. These same articles list common traits many successful people possess, such as persistence, persuasiveness, discipline and a strong work ethic. For over 25 years I have studied successful entrepreneurs and found that what contributed to their massive success was not what society typically considered valuable traits.

People like Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and John D. Rockefeller didn’t achieve greatness by following the narrow path recommended by management gurus and treating these traits as setbacks.

Here are 12 things society may consider a liability, but which can actually be indications that you are meant to be an entrepreneur.

  1. Easily bored.
    If you find yourself easily bored you know how others start to view you as a problem. Nothing is wrong with you except that you are bored with activities that aren’t up to your potential and aren’t challenging you. This lack of challenge is why you hated most of the classes you ever took. Look at Bill Gates who dropped out of college to become one of the richest men in the world.
  2. Labeled a rebel.
    Greatness lies outside of the lines and boundaries of authority and you don’t think laws, policies and regulations apply to you. You have been labeled a rebel, a rule breaker and would defy gravity if you could.
  3. Hate the status quo.
    Doing something the “time-honored” way doesn’t make sense to you when there is no explanation why. You don’t like to sit idly by, you refuse to just go through the motions and you won’t follow the pack.
  4. Bullied as a kid.
    You may have been heavily picked on, criticized and even bullied as a child or teen. This has given you a drive to excel to prove to the world that you are indeed a force to be reckoned with.
  5. Resisting authority.
    Whether it was your parents, teachers, bosses or anyone else in a position of authority you have a lifelong record of resisting them. You don’t go along with the agreed upon norms of the group or community you work and live in.
  6. Fired from jobs.
    When it comes to working with others you’re too creative for your own good. You may have some history, as I do, of losing jobs. Being a cog in the wheel is very difficult for you because you want to create something others can be inspired by and be a part of with their own contributions.
  7. Obsessed
    You may have been labeled obsessive because when you get started on something you have a difficult time letting go of it. Don’t let anyone convince you that this is a disease or deficiency. All great entrepreneurs become completely immersed in their vision — obsessed. Howard Schultz stuck with Starbucks, even when his family tried to persuade him to let go of his ‘little’ coffee shop. Steve Jobs was told the iPhone was a bad idea and to abandon the project by colleagues.
  8. Unable to unwind.
    Sleeping is not an option because you can’t turn your thoughts off. Your ideas may even manifest themselves in your sleep — your mind is never turned off or on vacation. The next morning you’re still consumed with the idea, distracting you from the job you’re supposed to be doing.
  9. Not fitting into the norm.
    You have always been a little uncomfortable in your own skin–until you get used to the idea you’re in fact different from most people. It could prove to be a problem or exactly the motivation you need to acknowledge the entrepreneur screaming to get out.
  10. Bad at small talk.
    You aren’t any good at making the kind of small talk so many people get comfort from. The social pattern of relationships and rapport building seem like a waste of time to you and makes you uncomfortable.
  11. Scared to go solo.
    Your inner entrepreneur is scared of going out on your own, but you’re also terrified of not doing so. This fear is very common in our society because we’ve been conditioned to think being an entrepreneur is riskier than getting a “day job.” The reality is there is instability in both.
  12. Ready to improve everything.
    You always see how you could do things better. You are likely opinionated and freely give your two-cents about your better way of doing things — even if you’re not asked.

Don’t believe how others label you or what they say about you. What others say are your liabilities may turn out to really be your assets for success.

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5 Simple Rules for Living a Life of Happiness

Happiness-is-a-choiceI read this book a few months ago called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor and one thing that he said really stuck with me. He said that people always think that once they get that promotion or lose weight, or quit their job or get married they will be happy. They don’t realize that once you are happy all of those other things fall into place.  Happiness is so underrated. If you aren’t living a life of true happiness how can you ever be comfortable, successful, wealthy, loving or compassionate?

5 Simple Rules for Living a Life of Happiness by Doug A. Sandler

One of the greatest feelings you can possess is happiness. When you are happy, people want to be around you. It’s a simple attraction principle; when you are happy, you attract other happy people. Happiness can spread quickly and is very contagious when gratitude, generosity, and positivity are added to your relationships.

Hundreds of studies have been conducted on the positive effects and health benefits of being happy. It’s hard to argue with the facts — a happy you equals a healthy you. Although I have always considered myself a happy person personally, as I have developed my professional life as well, I have discovered that the happier I am, the more successful my business became too.

Here are five rules to help you live a life of happiness:

1. Don’t Take Life So Seriously – As I was growing up my dad would always have to remind me that worrying about things that are outside of my control was harmful to my attitude and ultimately challenging my ability to be happy. Plus, I had no control so I should stop worrying. He’d continue by saying that worrying about something within my control was not needed since I had the ability to fix the problem by taking action. Our time on this earth is limited, and it’s extremely important to make the most of it while we are here. Look at life as a dress rehearsal — even if we mess up our lines, we can stop, take some advice from the experts that support us and guide us through it, and get back to the show.

2. Define for yourself what success means – Don’t let others define what success means to you. Success to you might be a filled bank account, fancy automobiles and material items. To others it might mean free time, lots of family gatherings and plenty of staycations. Professionally, success to me means working for myself, never having to hire staff and creating my own products and services. Personally, it means loving and being loved while enjoying the time I have in this lifetime. Someone else might define success as being CEO of a Fortune 500 company, having hundreds of staff members and having a corporate Amex card. You have the ability to make your own goals, dream your own dreams and define what success means to you.

3. You have an unlimited amount of do-overs – About 40 years ago, my brother and I would play ping pong in our rec room. To the right of the ping pong table stood a rubber tree plant. When the ball either hit the rubber tree plant or came too close to make a return shot, we’d yell “DO-OVER!” As an adult we have unlimited do-overs. As your professional career evolves, if you don’t like the direction you are going, take a do-over. Nearly three years ago, at 48, I decided to take a professional do-over, reinventing my professional life to where it is today as an author, speaker and business consultant. I have never been happier in my life and while there have been some very scary moments, it has also proven to be one of the most rewarding directions I have ever gone, making me extremely happy.

4. Worry less about what they think – Who the heck is they anyway? And honestly, until they are paying my bills and living my life, “they” don’t know what is best for me. I get to define my happiness and determine what life is all about for me. What it really comes down to is this: you have to deal with the consequences of your actions and “they” get to walk away. There will always be a court of public opinion and you will never be able to please all of the people in that court, so you may as well make decisions and take action based upon what works best for you and not “them.”

5. Play by your own rules – There is nothing worse than a static policies and procedures manual. Sure, there are some rules that are very important to follow. I usually put them into the category of common sense. Rules like, “Don’t harass your coworkers,” or, “Physical or verbal bullying will not be tolerated and subject to termination.” People breaking these rules need to get a life and should actually try to harness that negative energy into something positive, lasting, and beneficial to the human race. Happiness is created by treating others fairly, doing what feels right, making a positive impact on the planet and by following what you are passionate about.

When I originally sat down to write this blog, I was challenged by the idea of creating a set of rules pertaining to making rules for your life. Use these rules as guidelines and suggestions. Keep in mind, these are the rules that apply to my life and are “serving suggestions” for you. If you don’t like them, get your own set of rules and start getting your happy on, today. I know it will be worth it and will ultimately, your happiness rules will make you very happy.

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Why Isn't Access to Credit for Small Business Improving in 2015?

The economy is improving. Consumer confidence, although still volatile, has returned to pre-recession levels and business confidence has rebounded to near-record highs. A majority of small business owners anticipate revenue and profit increases in 2015. So, why isn’t small business access to credit improving accordingly?

In that piece last year, I expressed concern about the “choke point” in small business financing. I’m still concerned. The 2014 Year-end Economic Report of the National Small Business Association cites an uptick in small business owners’ overall positivity about the economy, but also notes that “nearly one in five small firms cannot meet increased sales demand due to inability to garner financing.” Perhaps the most appalling statistic I’ve seen recently is that 50 percent of small businesses ($250,000 to $1 million) received none of the financing they had applied for in the first half of 2014.

The relationship between credit and growth is particularly significant for small businesses. The NSBA survey reveals that 47 percent of the businesses denied credit were forced to delay business expansion. Twenty percent of small business owners relied on credit cards and business earnings to finance their credit needs. Other businesses delayed hiring.

It confounds me that in a year of record lending by the Small Business Administration, entrepreneurs still struggle to get the financing they need even when all indicators point to the opportunity for growth. In a positive move, the SBA recently launched the LINC program, an online matchmaking service that helps connect creditworthy small business borrowers with interested lenders. You start by filling out a simple online form to answer 20 questions. Your completed form is sent out to LINC’s network of local, statewide and national lenders, and potentially puts you on a fast track to consideration and approval.

But if you are denied traditional bank financing, don’t give up! Follow the lead of many of your fellow entrepreneurs, who are finding funds through well-established financing alternatives. Read more