Love Yourself, Leverage Your Money

Is there any way to protect ourselves from the financial insecurity (and drudgery) of work in today’s economy?

Studs Terkel once said that working should be “about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread”. Too often our work is disconnected from our life values and passions, leaving us disconnected from ourselves. We then try to compensate for unfulfilling work by spending our money on things to make ourselves happy. Unfortunately this work-spending cycle creates a drain on our money and life energy.

The best way to rescue ourselves from this cycle of money/life drain is to stop spending our money and start leveraging it. When we spend money the face value either stays the same or decreases. This happens when we trade our hard earned money (and life energy) for a car that depreciates as soon as we drive it off the lot. Or when we spend it on food and experiences that are consumed and no longer have value.

Leveraging allows us to increase the overall quality of our lives by using money according to our life values and priorities. When we leverage our money, we receive a bigger return than the face value of our initial investment. Purchasing a house that appreciates in value or financing education that enables you to earn more money in the future are common examples of leveraging money. But so is moving closer to work so you can walk and save gas money, or buying a large freezer so you can buy food in bulk. One often overlooked, but very useful way of leveraging money is through self-employment.

Having multiple streams of income is an important resource to protect your financial and life energy

There are many advantages to self-employment including:
wealth/asset building, tax advantages, increased autonomy and flexibility. While self-employment has always been a core component of the American Dream, some groups have historically been blocked out of these opportunities. OIC of America has launched an Entrepreneurial Mindset Initiative to increase under-represented populations preparation for and involvement in self-employment.

Self-employment need not be an either/or activity. Many people engage in self-employment on a part-time basis or use entrepreneurship as a way to phase themselves out of a current job they dislike. Having multiple streams of income can serve as an important resource to protect your financial and life energy.

Consider how you can transform your current spending practices into business that leverage your income. Do you enjoy baking and purchasing the latest cooking gadgets from Williams-Sonoma? Perhaps you can add an additional income stream baking cakes for birthday parties. Love working out? Have you ever considered teaching an exercise class or becoming a personal trainer? Enjoy helping people? Consider becoming a life coach or a life coaching consultant. Or perhaps you can grow extra vegetables/flowers in your garden to sell. The possibilities are endless.

The key is to investigate ways to turn your passions into sources of revenue. You work hard for you money, shouldn’t it also work hard for you? The best use of money is to leverage it to create security and self-sustaining wealth. Your current passions and interests are the clues to discovering your wealth potential.


5 Symptoms of a Money/Life Drain

Can we have more money without more problems? Money is just another form of energy. The true value of money is not based on how much we have, but rather how well it supports our life purpose and values. If money were not an issue, what would you do with your time? These are the truly valuable parts of life and the presence (or absence) of money influences the extent to which we are able to enjoy these priorities. Since our money is intimately linked to other ares of our life, a money drain is also a drain of our life energy. Below are five symptoms of people experiencing a money/life drain.

There are five symptoms of money/life drain.

1. Financial burdens, debt, out of control expenses. Whether on a household, local, or national level, debt has become an American staple and many of us are crippling under the weight of our debt burden. Debt implies that we are spending money that we do not have and requires that we pay for that “privilege”. While it can be reasonable to go into debt for things that will increase in value or increase our income potential (housing, education), carrying a large debt or going into debt for things that do not appreciate undermines our financial security both now and in the future.

2. Inability to save and pressure to earn/work more. For many Americans, the immediate response to the earlier problem of debt and financial problems is to work more and make more money. Imagine that there is a hole in the bottom of a cup. You want to drink a cool glass of lemonade but as you fill the glass, the lemonade continues to pour from the bottom. Adding more lemonade to the glass without filling the leak is not going to quench your thirst. Likewise, until you address the leak in your financial system, adding more money will not relive your financial burden. As my financial coach Lynn Richardson always says “more money does NOT solve a money problem…if it did millionaires would not go broke.” Although working longer hours to earn more does not solve our financial problems, it does help to exacerbate the next symptom of money/life drain.

3. Stressed relationships. There are studies that suggest as much as 90% of all divorces are connected to conflicts about money. Again conflicts about money cut across all income levels. However, the attempt to solve money problems by working more exacerbates the strain on relationships because people have less time to spend with family and friends.

4. Increased stress and decreased health. Stress is both an emotional and a physical condition. The stress and worry that accompanies financial burdens decreases our sense of security and self-esteem. It can also produce headaches, frequent infections, muscular twitches, fatigue, skin irritations, breathlessness as well as host of chronic illnesses.

5. Financial/emotional/and spiritual depletion. Even those individuals who have accumulated all the most treasured “toys” may be haunted by the question “is this all there is?” Like energy, money is intended FOR a purpose, it is not the end value. The pursuit of money for itself can lead to a spiritual crisis both for those who get lots of it and for those who never reach their financial goals. A person’s value cannot be measured by their net worth or credit score.

More money doesn't solve a money problem.

Are you experiencing any of the symptoms of the money/life drain? If more money is not the solution to this chronic illness, then what is? Wisdom and choice are our key resources to correcting the money/life drain we are experiencing. Making wise financial choices implies making wise life choices and vice versa. This requires us to inspect every area of our lives to see how it feeds/or detracts from our life vision. True prosperity (more money without money problems) requires that we restructure our thoughts, words, and actions so that they align with our life purpose and reflect our values and priorities. We have described the symptoms of a money/life drain. The condition is deadly but the prognosis is good. You can have a complete and permanent recovery, but it requires that you take the medicine daily. Today choose life, choose health, choose abundance!


Wake Up and Live Your Dreams

What a creative and honest video about the journey to achieving our dreams. Like the protagonist in the video, many of us DREAM about living a better version ourselves but get detoured along the way. How many of us can relate to the negative self-talk she experienced along the way and the drain that it placed on her energy level? The self-sabatoging behavior combined with the negative self-talk made achieving the goal virtually impossible. Will power is not enough to counter these powerful forces. However in the last two blog posts, we have been learning a proven 7-step strategy to overcoming these negative behaviors and achieving our goals.

Now we are ready for the next important step in creating permanent change: identify replacement behaviors. These are the actions that we will take INSTEAD of our usual disempowering behaviors. You’ve heard the saying “an empty space is soon filled.” Well it is not enough to simply STOP doing something that is unhelpful to our goals; we must also START doing something that advances us to our desired outcome. If I tell you to stop thinking about pink elephants, that’s all your mind fixates on. However if I tell you to concentrate on describing your mother’s smile, your focus on your mother will block out any distracting thoughts- including pink elephants.

One of the reasons why diets do not work is because they focus people on what they are stoping rather than what they are starting. I worked with a great nutritionist who helped to cure me of my sugar addiction using this principle. Rather than asking me to STOP eating sugar, she told me to eat as much green vegetable and protein as I could. I never felt deprived because I was always eating and I never missed the sugar because my body’s chemistry was reset by the protein and green vegetables. I no longer “craved” sugar.

What you focus on gets magnified. So if you focus on STOPING your disempowering behaviors, their power will grow. Likewise if you focus on STARTING new empowering behaviors, they too will grow. This is the part of the change process where we often experience the most difficulty. We decide that we want to start eating vegetables instead of cake or start getting up early exercise instead of sleeping, but we don’t. So let me share with you the million dollar secret to replacing disempowering behaviors with more empowering ones.

In order to effectively replace a disempowering behavior, the alternative behavior must accomplish two things. First it must be easy and attractive and secondly it must meet the same need as the disempowering behavior. You see why we can’t proceed without doing the work in step 2 of analyzing the disempowering behavior? Our bad habits may not move us toward our goals but they are easy to do and fulfill important needs. Any actions that can effectively replace them MUST have these characteristics as well. So if you want to replace unnhealthy eating habits with more healthy choices, you have to make the healthy options just as EASY and ATTRACTIVE. Telling yourself (or your child) to eat the broccoli just “because it’s good for you” won’t work.

Yet, even if your alternative behavior is easy and attractive, it will not be effectively implemented regularly unless it MEETS THE SAME NEED as the disempowering behavior. Remember the law of positive intent? When we have an unmet need, our brains focus on behaviors that in the past allowed us to meet that need. In order for our alternative behavior to be successful in these situations, the replacement behavior must legitimately fulfill the same need.

So the journey of creating permanent positive change requires serious introspection and creativity. This is the real work of change. Are you ready? Brainstorm at least three possible replacement behaviors for each disempowering behavior you identified in the earlier two posts. Once you have your list, screen the behaviors to see if they meet the criteria for a effective replacement: easy/attractive and fulfills one of the universal needs. Please involve as many people as possible in this brainstorming process so that you can benefit from the collective wisdom of your community. Good luck and I look forward to hearing what you come up with in your process.


You Are Just a Few Degrees Away from Your Dreams

Can we really accomplish the changes that we want to see in our lives?

To borrow a refrain from President Obama’s campaign “YES WE CAN!” Change is possible and you have everything you need to bring about the changes of your dreams. As Tony Robbins explains in the video above, the difference between your current life and changes you desire is often 1-2 millimeters. Here you will find some resources to help you make these small but necessary changes.

A critical step in implementing permanent change is understanding the function of disempowering behavior. Disempowering behavior refers to any actions that stand between you and the person you want to be. As you attempt to implement positive change in your life, what specific habits/ behaviors interfer with your progress? These are the disempowering behaviors that must be addressed. Too often we rely on sheer will power to overcome disempowering behaviors. Yet will power always fails. It may bring us temporary success, but will power alone will never produce permanent change.

Analyzing our disempowering behaviors is essiential for our success because our brain works according to something known as positive intent. Positive intent means that our brains desire to create a positive experience for us and when we have an unmet need our brains will focus on experiences in the past that have met that need (even if these behaviors are no longer appropriate). For example, if we are feeling unloved or un-noticed, we may rely on a habit of whining or complaining to meet our legitimate need for love and attention, eventhough such behavior may no longer be appropriate and may strain our relationships. The law of positive intent requires that we understand why we habitually turn to these disempowering behaviors before we can overcome them. Trust me, ALL disempowering behavior fulfills some need and you would not continue this action if it did not fill a need for you in some way.

There are five needs theorized to be universal to all humans. Use the list below and identify which needs are being fulfilled by your disempowering behaviors. If you need assistance with this activity, please enlist the help of a friend or send me an email. The five needs that all humans share are:

1. the need to feel safe and secure
2. the need to be loved and be noticed
3. the need to be important and competent
4. the need to be autonomous and free
5. the need to feel worthy

I want 2011 to be a great year for you and that requires dealing head on with disempowering behaviors. I am hosting a live chat on twitter (tweetchat.com #7steps) to present the next step in overcoming your disempowering behaviors. Please reflect on the needs filled by your disempowering behaviors and join me on twitter tomorrow, March 22nd at 8pm (EST) to continue your journey toward making permanent positive change. If you have friends, co-workers, or relatives who have also expressed frustration at the process of creating positive change, please share this blog post with them and invite them to join us on 3/22 for step three in the seven step process of making permanent change.


7 Steps to Permanent Change

At the start of the New Year, people often identify changes they’d like to see in their lives and some even set up plans to achieve this desired change. However by mid -March many of these plans have been laid aside and the goals re-framed as unattainable “wishes”. This need not be the case for you. If you are disappointed and frustrated in your current level of progress on your goals for 2011, I’d like to share with you the first of a seven step plan for making permanent change. Remember that by effectively implementing small changes, you can create an arc of change that leads you to the life of your dreams.

Once you have identified the changes you’d like to make in your life, the first step to effectively accomplishing this is to connect these desired changes with your life purpose and values. Why do you want this change in your life? How will your life be better once you’ve accomplished your goal? Purpose is the driving force that gives you the energy and inspiration to keep you going when implementing the changes you desire. The more clearly aligned your desired change is with your life purpose, the more successful you will be.

Too often we list self-improvement goals based on other people’s actions and values rather than our own. For my clients who insist that they want to lose weight but can never find time to exercise, we explore whether this goal is a personal value or something they feel they “should do.” As Master coach Kim George always says “stop shoulding all over yourself.” Personal development is NOT about making yourself conform to other people’s expectations and values. It’s about discovering who you WANT to be and creating a support structure to live out your greatness.

If there is anything on your list of positive change that you do not truly WANT to do, please cross it off the list. If you are unwilling to remove it from the list, please spend time considering how this goal connects to your core values and priorities so that you WILL want to achieve this. The answer to the question “why do you want to change” is the first and most important step in creating permanent positive change.

Please share your desired change and how it connects to your purpose. Over the next few posts, I will continue to share with you aspects of the the 7 steps for permanent change. I’m also hosting a live chat on twitter on this topic Tuesday, March 22nd at 8pm EST. To participate in the discussion simply use #7steps on tweetchat.com. You can also connect with me on twitter @coachKesha. I’m looking forward to all that we will accomplish in 2011!


Oscars 101

Who will you thank during your 15 mins of fame?

Last week millions of people were glued to the television sets watching the Oscars. Some watched to see whether their favorite film or actor won an award. Others watched to see the hottest fashion designs. My favorite part of the Oscars are the acceptance speeches, the heartfelt words of appreciation that people spontaneously share during their 15 seconds of fame. I often don’t know the people winning the award or the people being thanked, yet I am moved by their sincerity and appreciation. My favorite acceptance speech of all time was when Halle Berry won her Academy Award for Best Actress. Her appreciation for those who had come before her and those who personally invested in her brought me to tears. True gratitude is both uplifting and contagious.

Who would you like to thank in your 15 second acceptance speech? Who has modeled your path and opened doors for you to develop your gifts? Who’s words of appreciation, encouragement, comfort have made a substantial impact on your life? You may never win an Academy award, but you have the opportunity to thank them right now.

The Note Project (www.noteproject.com) is a movement started by Mike O-Meary who wants to encourage us to take the time to express our heartfelt thanks to those who have touched our lives. He reminds us that “A simple note can change a person’s life. Equally important, showing appreciation can change your life“. You can watch his story that inspired the Note Project below and help the Note Project reach the goal of 1 million notes of appreciation by pledging to send your own note of appreciation .

While elaborate gifts and flowers may be nice, NOTHING compares to a sincere word of thanks. My friend Dr. Glenda Clare passes out cards that read: “Thank you for being who you are and doing what you do! Who you are is wonderful! What you do is important! I was blessed to spend time with you today!” What a great idea! What can be more meaningful than communicating to another person that they are special and what they do is important? Acceptance and significance are two fundamental human values and the expression of sincere appreciation fulfills them both.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Take time today to express thanks to those who touch your life in big and small ways. As William Arthur Ward has said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” In closing, I would like to thank you for the time you share with me. In many other areas of my life, writing has felt like a lonely process; yet having this space to share my thoughts feels so different and that is because of you. The comments and encouragement you provide are so helpful and nurturing. Thank you for including me in your day and your community!


No More Complaints

The quality of our relationships is determined by the quality of the quality of the conversations we have in them.

How can we improve our lives and our relationships by changing the form of our conversations?

Trust and respect are critical elements of every human encounter, be it friendship, parenting, or business. Yet we often unknowingly undermine the trust and respect in our relationships through our conversations. How good of a communicator are you? How well do you listen for the heart-felt values, beliefs and priorities of others? How well do you authentically share yourself with others? You can take a brief Conversational Assessment to get a move objective look at your strengths and weaknesses in the area of communication. This article presents a useful strategy to eradicate one of the top communication killers: complaining.

Once you are able to realistically observe your current conversational patterns and take the steps necessary to improve the nature of your conversations, you will experience:

* more collaborative and trusting personal and professional relationships
* greater influence in the lives of those around you
* an increase in the respect that others hold for you
* an increase in the amount of people coming to your for guidance and encouragement
* more intimate, open, and authentic relationships

If you desire to attain some or all of the benefits listed above, complaining is an activity that needs to be eradicated from your conversations. I used to think that to stop complaining meant to stop having opinions, stop communicating those opinions, or to stop desiring more out of my life and relationships. All who know me well know that I have LOTS of opinions and that I am very committed to expressing myself, so to stop complaining felt like betraying my nature. I’ve learned a technique that has enabled me to achieve better results than complaining ever got me, without sacrificing my voice. I share this with the hope of helping other “kind-hearted, outspoken, high standards” women like myself find a more productive style of conversation. If this is not a problem you experience yourself, please pass this technique along to the other women in your life who do. It will be a blessing to you both.

The solution to complaining is to actively engage your imagination to move from complaint mode to speculative mode. In complaint mode you focus on what went wrong or did not happen. In speculative mode you focus on your true desires and your ideal outcome. In speculative mode we “play make believe” asking ourselves “If things could be any way I want them to be, how would I LOVE things to be?”

Playing make believe can give you clarity on your goals and help you to improve the quality of your relationships.

Being in speculative mode forces us to focus on the future rather than the past. When we are in speculative mode, we are focused on what we want to create, focused on the possibility of a future that fulfills our desires, and focused on what what we can do to create that desired outcome. Unfortunately we are often much clearer on what we don’t want than what we do, and those who love us navigate a dangerous minefield while learning how to love us better.
Remember that what we focus on grows. As we focus on our true desires, they will become more clear and we will be better able to communicate them clearly to others. Focusing our our desires also provides us with the positive energy and emotional distance needed to engage in the interaction as a sharing and teaching opportunity. For example, when interacting with my children shifting from complaint to speculative mode allows me to identify the specific quality/ character trait I would like to see them exhibit in similar situations in the future. In this frustrating parenting moments I ask myself:

* what is the character trait I am trying to develop in my child?
* do I model this quality?
* have I have explicitly attempted to teach this quality earlier?

Often times this simple shift from complaint mode to speculative mode drains the negativity out of the situation and enables me to respond with the clarity and intentionality needed to achieve a more successful outcome.
Shifting from a complaint mode to a speculative mode, can improve the quality of our relationships in so many ways. I invite you to practice this skill this week. The next time you feel yourself getting frustrated and about to complain, ask yourself “How would I LOVE this be in a future situation?”. Once you are clear on what you want, think about what you can do to help make that situation happen. Help other people practice this skill as well. The next time someone is complaining to you, guide them through these speculative questions and see what happens.

I’d love to hear from you about how you practiced replacing complaints with speculative questions and what you have achieved through this process. Please post your experiences on below or directly email your comments to me.


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