A lot of relationships break down because we start to see things that irritate us about the person, when in reality those things were always there. But why have they now started irritating you? It’s not because they’re now irritating you, it’s because you’re now focusing on them. If you have a negative mindset you start focusing on what you don’t have instead of what you do have. So if your partner is a procrastinator, not very good at cooking or whatever it is, you start to dwell on those things. But no one’s perfect, you’re not perfect, right? So focus instead on their positives: my partner’s really fit, my partner’s great at their job, my partner’s very generous, very kind, my partner’s very loving, he or she is a great reader, or my partner is a great painter.
The same applies for your colleagues and staff at work. When they do something well, praise them. Focus on their abilities rather than their weaknesses and give them work that best suits their talents. For example if someone is a great communicator and enjoys developing client relationships, make sure they are on the phones instead of doing administrative work! This means that they will be happier in their role and not only feel better, but become more productive, enthusiastic and engaging. Their work performance will improve and they will become a better team member, employee and face of the company.
Here are eight agreements you should make with yourself to help you build discipline and willpower in 2012. I do this exercise every year. Whenever I get complacent or fall into a rut I go back to these agreements and remind myself not to break them.
Health – Cherish your body. Nothing else matters more. Focus on the energy you have. Eat well, exercise and relax daily. Fill your daily life with purposeful activities that give your body a reason to manifest energy.
Love – Love yourself by looking after your health and guarding your mind against negative images, negative thinking and negative associations. Look your best by wearing clothes that make you feel attractive. Have the courage to show and give love to your life partner, whether or not they give it back. Tell your partner daily what you love about them – words are powerful. Work just as much on your love life as you do on your work.
Family – Support your family at all times. Give them the confidence to pursue their goals and dreams. Help them overcome obstacles. Focus on their strengths and their good qualities. Remind them daily of that. Tell them you love them no matter what happens – whether they succeed or fail at anything. Spend time developing a relationship with all family members.
Work – Choose to love your work. Always do your best. Focus on the difference that your product or service is making to society. Have empathy for your customers. Value the privilege of serving them from the heart. Be grateful that you live in a society where there is the opportunity to work. At all times be honest in the execution of your work. Master your job by constantly learning and evolving. Always ask yourself, ‘can I do this job better?’ Be impeccable in your conduct at work. Be fearless in your execution.
Friendship – Let your words, laughter and charm bring a smile to others. Help your friends see the lighter side of life and not take themselves too seriously. Act with integrity and hold true to your standards and beliefs. Never compromise them to be popular. Never pre-judge others. Be open to new friendships. Always greet people with a smile and a friendly hello. How others respond is their own reality and has nothing to do with you.
Learning – Commit to 45 minutes of learning daily about every aspect of your life and not just your work and wealth. Limit watching TV and other popular media. Watch uplifting talks by great thinkers on TED.com. Read books from pioneering minds. Attend courses and seminars organised by people who care and have something unique to share. Listen twice as much you talk. Discover your talents by having self-awareness for your thoughts and feelings. Live a conscious life where you decide what you want to listen to, read and watch.
Wealth – Invest in yourself first before you invest your money. If you have a business invest in your own field of dreams first before investing with others on the stock market. Live a frugal lifestyle and reduce your dependence on money. Spend less, save more. Say no to consumerism and your addiction to buying more and more things that end up collecting dust in the attic. But don’t skimp on things that improve your life.
Charity – Learn about the plight of others in need. Don’t shut yourself out to other people’s suffering. Help others by giving your time and/or money. Charity does not have to be grand. A simple kind word of support is sometimes all that someone needs. Help a team member at work. Share an idea that can help a friend live a better life.
The rise of off-shoring and outsourcing means that we are all now competing for jobs on a global basis. Therefore, meandering through your career without any passion or purpose is not going to cut it. Managing your work performance is more important than ever.
LIFT YOUR PERFORMANCE
Make yourself indispensible – During tough times business and corporations lean on its biggest asset – people! Here are 5 Ways to be Awesome at Work
Go after safe jobs – If you have the option, go after jobs that will be safest in difficult times. For example I recently advised a lawyer friend to transfer from property and finance law to mortgage collections and insolvency law.
Keep learning and investing in yourself. Increase your skills by doing courses. Go back to university or Tafe if you have to. Sign up for an apprenticeship or traineeship. You may even learn enough to start your own business. Some of the best business ideas were hatched during tough times. Your challenge is to pick your niche and your market. There will be lots of people whose money will not be lost in the crash and whose purchasing power will soar. Cater to them.
Cut Travel Time to and From Work – Try and get a job that is less than 30 minutes traveling time from home. Time is a very important resource in the 21st century. Travelling saps your energy and chews up valuable time. If it is unavoidable try and work 1-2 days from home, if your job allows it.
If you own a business or manage a business unit for a major corporation these following tips will shelter you from the storm that’s heading our way.
Look after your loyal staff – but start planning cuts. This is inevitable if you want to survive. I know this sounds a little ruthless but when the crash is over, you owe it to your hard-working loyal staff to maintain a healthy company. Focus your energy on partnering with your loyal staff. Pay what is fair and necessary to keep the talent you have but don’t tolerate mediocrity. Expect and demand excellence.
Start a rainy day fund – Put money aside – put 30% of your profits for the next 6 months into a reserve fund. After 6 months reduce it to 20%. After 12 months reduce it to 10%.
Bullet-proof yourself from the Tax Office. Ensure that your bookkeeping is accurate and up-to-date. During tough times the tax office will be looking to get it’s revenue any way it can. Anyone with a weak set of financial statements will be vulnerable to an audit that will drag on and on and take you away from managing your business.
Spend less on new technology – extend your hardware warranties and do not upgrade your software unless you absolutely have to. Software upgrades not only cost you more in fees but also in implementation and training.
But, don’t save money by doing something that costs much more in time. Don’t skimp on purchases that will otherwise make you more efficient.
Move operations out of expensive CBD rentals. If you are in retail, boost your online presence and turn your CBD retail space into a showroom as well as a point of sale. The Apple store is one perfect example. So is the Nespresso store.
Cut your lease time – If you rent showroom or office space, make sure your lease allows you to leave on short notice or allows for rent reductions in line with the market.
Do not renew all your supply contracts just yet. There will be bargains for real estate space, telecommunications (voice and data), computers, office machines etc… Try and not lock in for longer than 12 months. If suppliers insist on a 24-month contract ask for a cost review clause in 12 months.
Hire staff from your local area. People that spend too much time commuting are much less effective at work, period!
Cut down on unnecessary business travel. It’s costly and takes your staff away from their families; which is not good for morale. Happy family equals happy work. Use teleconferencing or video conferencing.
Sell your business – If you have been thinking of selling your business, don’t wait any longer. Today’s circumstances may be your best opportunity for a long time. If you decide to hang on and ride out the storm, then read the following 8 Tips to Business Excellence.
Reduce Inventory – If you are in retail, reduce your stock levels. However, if your business relies on the supply of specialty items that are difficult to obtain, stock up.
Delight Your Customers Even More – The customer will be even more ‘king’ as business competes for a dwindling share of wallet. Share of heart will become more important. So do what the likes of Apple and St George Bank do. Go beyond the call of duty when serving customers. The 9th and most important tip for Business Excellence.
Start planning for the upswing, but don’t be premature. The media will be quick to talk it up because that will be the sexy story. Don’t be the first to jump in and be bullish. Wait for two quarters of good economic data before you upscale and invest in new capital. Being in the right position could ensure success for years to come.
Remember that being wealthy is a state of mind and not the state of your bank balance.
(The picture on the right was taken of a tree growing on the side of a rock – at Sydney Botanical Gardens. It made me think – We are no different to trees. We can survive and thrive however tough our circumstances may get.)
Keep your cool – at home and at work. When things are going well, anyone can be positive. But it takes an extraordinary person to maintain grace under pressure. So be a pillar of strength. Don’t crumble. Reach deep withinyourself and lift your standard. Life is not perfect. We don’t make it throughlife without setbacks. As Sarah Kay, poet, puts it, “Getting the wind knocked out of you, is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.” I believe that it is in these moments that we have the opportunity to rise above our circumstances and make the choice to be strong. It is in these moments that we use stumbling blocks as stepping-stones to a better life. This isn’t motivational talk. I live by this as a truth.
Focus on being wealthy not rich. What you invest in, ultimately defines your wealth. I have learned that the safest and most rewarding investment that yields the most abundant wealth imaginable is the investment in yourself. Aim to wake up every morning and do the simple things. Eat well, exercise, spend quality time with your family, keep learning and improving, choose to love your work, have fun with friends and be kind and generous. Focus on creating wealth not just money. Living a complete and happy life is your wealth. But here is the magic. When you invest in yourself you start to attract good things and good people to you. And these often come with opportunities to work and invest in new ideas that excite you and make money for you.
If you have a huge mortgage that relies on your current income to finance it – sell. Aim to own your home outright, if possible. Be willing to downgrade to make this happen. If a mortgage is unavoidable, keep your eye on the variable rate. Chances are it will drop lower than any fixed rate currently on offer (but please don’t take my word for it – get advice).
Don’t unnecessarily upgrade your car. It costs much less to repair a car than to spend the extra money on buying a new one. And never buy brand new cars. There is better value in second hand cars. You pay a premium for new cars for no apparent reason other than to be the first to drive the latest model.
Make sure your pay is in money form. Cash out any stock or stock options that your company has issued to you.
Reduce stock market risk as much as possible. Get out of speculative and derivative positions, especially bullish ones. If you must stay in stocks, move to investments that are high quality, liquid and commonly traded.
Sell underperforming real estate investments – If you have real estate investments returning less than 5%, aim to sell now and buy later when the market nears bottom. There will be plenty of distressed sales and you will have the opportunity to buy prime pieces of property; especially commercial buildings in local shopping strips.
Invest your money in cash spread across 2- 3 banks with high liquidity. In Australia, my pick is CBA and Westpac. I would even put 15% of that cash in actual notes stored in a cash deposit box.
Get frugal! Strengthen your family’s finances. It’s a fact that families who manage expenses well are often the most successful. Here are a few ideas that my family adopts. I know that you may not be short of a dollar. Neither am I. But this is not just about budgeting and surviving, it’s more than that. It’s about setting an example for your family and proving something to yourself. It’s about taking back control. Read more 16 Tips to get frugal this christmas.
Get fit and stay fit! When times get tough you need to be in top condition for excellent performance. Energy is the new currency. In my January newsletter I will be listing my top nutrition and exercise tips for 2012.