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You may of heard the saying, 'From 9 to 5 you create your life, but from 5 to 9, you create your lifestyle.'
For most people, they cannot just quit their 'day job' or 'primary income source' to pursue a certain lifestyle through business ventures and/or investments, so they have to learn to leverage nights, weekends and non-productive time to create it. We, as humans, crave adventure. We often starve that spirit when we get stuck in the monotony of the day-to-day. One thing I know for certain we had to stop doing to create true flexibility in our life; is that we needed to STOP APOLOGIZING.
We needed to stop apologizing for:
- Where we put our time
- Where we invested our money
- Who we allowed to influence us
Often, we spend too much time being flexible with our boundaries, putting too much weight on other people's opinions and being unclear with our intentions and goals with the people around us. We've found that so many people fall short of achieving their dreams and living a life of fulfillment because they are easily distracted. There are numerous ways to earn a living outside of the typical employer/employee work settings, but we have to be willing to commit to the process, see the big picture and eliminate distractions.
In a Forbes article from 2019 titled '3 Tips To Successfully Escape The 9-To-5 Grind' by Jia Wertz, she outlines the 3 tips that successful YouTuber and Entrepreneur, Kevin David, lays out:
1. Leverage experts with proven results
Learning from experts can help jumpstart your path and guide your results by understanding the genius and mistakes made by experienced people in the field.
2. Implement a proven system
Entrepreneurs must address problems and pain points and create solutions. Use a proven system as the framework for your own business, and keep innovating and testing as you go.
3. Provide massive value upfront
Use what you have created to help others achieve their dreams too. This is quickly becoming the modern way of paying-it-forward in our fast-paced digital world. Build a real relationship with your audience. You can add value upfront by providing free trainings, podcasts, and online courses. Remember, one of the best ways to be an effective business mentor is by adding constant value without expecting anything in return. The most noticeable mistake that people starting out make is charging for value, instead of adding value for free to make an impact.
We thought this was great and couldn't have said it better, so we wanted to share it. Success principles are universal and transferable. We're just want to encourage you to get really intentional about where your time and money are going, and more importantly where you are receiving advice/input from. Stop apologizing for pursuing avenues to better yourself and your family. Rather than starving our dreams, let's starve our distractions and feed our intentions and actions to create the life that we imagine.
Greatness is a choice,
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: callcentrehelper.com
Busyness has become an addiction in our society today. Many people wear “being busy” like it’s a badge of honor. The problem with this is that many times this busyness does not correlate to productivity, or even to effort, in many instances at all. We’ve heard that a baby is busy sucking its thumb, but that doesn’t mean that it is being productive. Successful people don’t value busyness, or even effort at all, they value results. They know that being busy without creating results leads to frustration, and frustration is a key indicator that we aren’t living up to our full potential. When we feel this frustration starting to take hold, it is up to us to either allow it to make us retreat and give up, or use it to change our circumstances and grow.
Can this be hard? Yes. Is it going to require more of you than you think? Most likely. Is it going to be worth it? Definitely.
We would rather be completely exhausted while accomplishing our dreams and goals, then be well rested and floating through life until the good Lord calls us home. The greatest athletes learn to push themselves harder in training than they would ever be pushed in a game so that when it comes time for competition, nothing can stop them from achieving their goals. There is a lesson to be learned here. While we may not be competing at an extremely high level athletically, we can make the choice to approach our dreams and goals with the same fervor.
The results we are looking for lie on the other side of this intentional effort. What’s the cost if we don’t approach our life in this manner? Well it’s pretty simple. If we don't exhaust our energy towards accomplishing our dreams and goals, our energy will end up being used as a resource for someone else to accomplish theirs. The mere thought of our lives becoming a dispensable resource for someone else is enough to get ourselves into gear, and we hope it does the same for you.
Architects start with a vision of what they want to create, then develop blueprints with a step by step strategy for making it come to fruition. Does everything then just go smoothly from there as they systematically work towards building their creation? Of course not! There will always be speed bumps and roadblocks along the way. Architects learn to adjust as needed to ensure they see the final project through to completion.
It is through this same approach that dreams and goals are accomplished. Start with a vision, lay down a plan, take action, adjust as needed, and SEE THE PROJECT THROUGH TO COMPLETION. All of your challenges along the way will be for naught if you don’t finish the job and get the results. Don’t hide behind the cult of busy. Don’t constantly ramble on about all of the effort that you are putting in when you have nothing to show for it. Don’t just be willing. Saying we are willing to do something or that we are going to try to do something doesn’t get us anywhere. Take action, fail, adjust, and keep moving forward until you create your desired outcomes. With this attitude and approach, nothing can prevent you from accomplishing the things that you most want to accomplish in your life.
Become the architect of your future.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: vividcimm.com
"Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."
Maya Angelou is famous for the above quote, but the beginning of it that often gets omitted, which states: "One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential..." It takes courage to have consistent character. Who are we when no one is watching? Do we do what needs to be done even if we don't feel like it? Do we look to choose the 'ultimate' over the 'immediate?' Are our actions in alignment with our values? Do we maintain our integrity despite the environment or situation?
If you we consistent or inconsistent, it will become part of who we are and how people view us. To be consistent, especially with our character, requires courage. Courage is mental and moral perseverance. Courage is a choice and it's having a willingness to face fears, uncertainty, discomfort, etc.
How can we build our courage?
◦ Feeling fear and yet doing the things we fear anyway
◦ Identify our passions - the things we are passionate about cause us to push past fear
◦ Following our intuitions
◦ Choosing to fight instead of succumbing to adversity
◦ Defining and communicating our values
◦ Living out our values by making congruent decisions
◦ Expanding our comfort zone by continually operating outside of the familiar
◦ Leading with faith
We are born with the potential... to choose faith over fear, to develop clarity and focus, to overcome adversity. Brandon and I are committed to continuing to strengthen our character and have the courage to stand up for what we believe is right. This is the true essence of our community. It is a community that is built on integrity, gratitude and a commitment to grow. Find a community that helps you build your character and where you feel empowered to have the courage to achieve greatness.
Greatness is a choice,
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: fisher.osu.edu
Everyone goes through various seasons of chaos in their life. We are currently in one of those seasons with a newborn, a toddler, a growing businesses all while working on a variety of other projects. I'm not comparing what we have going on to others, because I know people are going through some big challenges, but we all have 'chaos seasons' at some point in our lives. Change, in business and life, can be chaotic. While change is a natural force, accepting it is not, which is why we, as humans, are creatures of habit and enjoy personal security. My hope is to set people at ease and encourage you to have grace with yourself. I also want to give some practical tips that have worked for me.
Protect the mindset:
*Alignment is a myth*
You will NEVER be in complete alignment. Life is dynamic. The reality is that whatever we focus on and prioritize grows. Allocating time for what is important is always going to take priority and shift alignment towards those activities. If you've never read, 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey, I highly recommend it. This matrix of importance versus urgency that he talks about in his book, is really helpful in deciding where to invest our efforts:
*The mental boost*
Learning how to spin negative thoughts to positive ones and knowing negative triggers are critical to maintaining mental health. I am a firm believer in audio recording positive affirmations in your own voice and playing them back to yourself when you are 'mentally struggling.' Exercise and reading (especially self-improvement/self-development books) help to boost mental energy as well.
*You are not by yourself*
Lean into your support system. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Join groups and prioritize having resources that you can be your 'go-to' on various subjects. Most importantly, ask for help if you need it.
1. Be scheduled, yet flexible- Find a calendar system that works for you, plan ahead and communicate with all involved. I still use a paper calendar. For me, I need the visual (and color-coded) representation.
2. Have non-negotiable routines/ rhythms- especially in the morning. Your mornings set the tone for the rest of the day.
3. Control what you can control- Focus here:
4. Habit stack- read 'Atomic Habits' by James Clear. Habit stacking is a special form of implementation intention. Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit. This, I found, increases both personal efficiency and effectiveness.
5. Energy windows- know the times of day that you have the most energy and maximize production within that time. For me that's earlier morning and after my toddler goes to bed. These are the times that I can be most creative and productive.
"Since the richness of life and all its opportunities are not going to go away, what needs to change is how we perceive all that we have to and want to do. A shift in perception can open new doors to the sense of purpose and productivity that we all desire."
Author, speaker and coach
Change is inevitable, growth is optional... choose wisely.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: score.org
Think about this: It is not hard to make choices, if you know what your values are. The journey of life can be a much smoother road when your plans and decisions honor your values.
Our values are the foundational beliefs and principles that we build our life upon. They should be our top priorities as to how we conduct ourselves. When the things that we do & say and the ways in which we conduct ourselves are congruent, we feel satisfied, content and fulfilled.
It is important, if you haven't already, to reflect and define your core values. Here are a few steps to defining those core values:
Our CORE values:
Diving deeper into our values; living our life and conducting value-centric businesses are extremely important to us. Faith isn't about religion, but simply having conviction and believing that we are here for a bigger purpose. Our immediate family is always going to be our #1 priority. The decisions we make will either grow or detract from our family's mission and vision. We've been able to create financial freedom at a young age, so it is important to us that we continue to serve others, properly steward our finances and look for ways to simultaneously grow our finances while adding value to others. We are passionate about developing a legacy for our children and providing them with knowledge, resources and experiences that we didn't have access to growing up. Taking care of our bodies and health has always been a priority and something we want to model for our kids. It is also important to explore and appreciate nature. It is not only important to define your values, but to also know 'why' you have the desire to live them.
When we live out our values, they are the compass that guides everything that we do. This means that we are living in alignment and as our most true & authentic selves. Our values are our key motivators and the guide to which we make decisions. When living a value-based life, we can have a greater impact on the community and the world around us. We are true believers that if you don't understand the 'why,' the 'how' and 'what' are less impactful and meaningful.
"Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny."
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: today.com
For quite some time, I've been doing 'Wednesday Wisdom' posts on social media. I did a recent post on perfectionism, and I want to expand upon what I talked about in it. My intention is to create awareness around the subject and to encourage people to develop systems to protect themselves both mentally and emotionally.
Self-oriented or toxic perfectionism is imposing an unrealistic desire to be perfect on oneself. Almost 300 research studies have found that high levels of perfectionism were correlated with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, deliberate self-harm and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Even mild cases can interfere with your quality of life by negatively affecting your personal relationships, education, work and more. Some common traits of a perfectionist include: all-or-nothing thinking, being highly critical of oneself or others, being pushed by fear, having unrealistic standards, being highly results focused, experiencing depression, fear of failure, procrastination, defensiveness and/or low self esteem. Perfectionists usually do not possess all of these characteristics, but many of them in conjunction with one another.
Living with perfectionism my entire life has not been easy. I've struggled with body image issues, self defeating thoughts & behaviors, negative self efficacy/self image and unrealistic expectations most of my life, just to name a few. The internal voice of being a perfectionist is hard to live with, and frankly can be exhausting. For anyone else struggling with perfectionism, there have been a lot of ways that I've worked to overcome toxic perfectionism, but here are 10 tips that have worked for me:
For me, it is all about honor. Honoring my physical and mental health, as well as honoring my time, commitments, priorities and boundaries. Most importantly, give yourself the grace to grow. Change and evolution does not happen overnight. I've been intentionally working on various components of overcoming self-induced, toxic perfectionism for over 15 years. Give yourself time, but please be intentional about it because it is one of the most important things that you can do.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: deviantart.com
Our society tends to overemphasize the importance of passion. Success gurus shout from stage “find your passion and then sell out 100% to making your dreams a reality!” or “Find what you love to do and you will never work a day in your life!” If finding something that is important to you is all that you need, then why has there been a steady rise in job burnout? Why are divorce rates climbing year over year? Is it that these people all just chose the wrong career path, one that wasn’t actually their passion? Was it that these people really didn’t care deeply about their significant others?
The unfortunate side of this advice being continually touted is that it leads people down a path searching for that ever flowing positive emotional energy like it’s the fountain of youth waiting to be discovered. They believe that if they could only find it, they would have this continual energy propelling them towards their dreams and goals. When they finally realize that no matter how deeply they care about something they still feel overwhelmed, tired, distracted, and much more, they believe that there is either something wrong with them or they just haven’t identified their “true passion” yet.
We believe that while passion is important, it’s not the all important ingredient like you have been lead to believe. We submit to you that identifying things that work, options that will yield the greatest return on investment, should actually be ranked higher than passion in regards to importance. We find that when people are seeing themselves creating tangible results from the activities that they are doing, they are more capable of engaging with the things they care most deeply about. It has has been a combination of our athletic backgrounds and the mentorship and guidance that we have had in our lives that has brought us to this realization. Those who are the most successful in athletics are forced to put a premium importance on the most mundane activities. Activities that they clearly are not passionate about and do not enjoy, but yield the greatest results over time.
This is why it is important to identify the things that are most important to us and the future that we would like to experience, while clearly seeing the path forward to creating that future; mundane activities and all. Unfortunately we as humans are averse to looking that those mundane activities. We like to imagine a perfect physique while ignoring the countless tired hours in the gym or sacrifices in cuisine that will be required to develop it. While we cannot see every possible challenge that may arise as we pursue worthwhile endeavors, we can choose to approach them with our eyes wide open. Seeing both the opportunities and the obstacles. Understanding that if we can realize greater returns on our investments, both physical and emotional, we are better equipped to pour what remains into the things that we care about the most.
We encourage you, don’t take things at face value. Dig deeper. Find people who you can trust who have created the results in their lives that you want to create. Learn from them and implement what they teach you. Do the things that work.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: loveisinmytummy.com
"Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.”
– Joel Osteen
I think it is easy to get caught in the cycle of feeling bad for ourselves. We start to go down the path of pessimism and wonder why 'things' keep happening TO us. We feel deflated and helpless, think 'why me' and even throw ourselves pity parties. We start to give negative or neutral/ negative responses like "It's going" or "It's ok." We see ourselves as a victim. Negative self talk is easy, comparison is easy and being unforgiving is easy. I'm going to encourage you to STOP.
There is ALWAYS someone that has it harder than you and is going through more than you are going through. I do feel it is important to be empathetic and I am not downplaying what people are going through/dealing with, but I do believe that people have the tendency to feel sorry for themselves. I believe it all comes down to perspective, and often we need to shift our perspective.
What is perspective? Perspective is the way that one looks at a situation, circumstance and/or an occurrence. I want to discuss how to maintain a healthy perspective, the importance of gratitude, and some tips to support a positive perspective.
A Healthy Perspective
A healthy perspective, I believe, begins and ends with faith. This is not necessarily suggesting faith in a spiritual context, but instead having a moral and ethical foundation and compass. For us, it has been through the development of a strong spiritual foundation, however, that has enabled us to grow in other areas of our lives as well. A healthy perspective allows us to have inner peace. It has also been a good interpersonal network that has provided the proper environment to have a growth mindset despite circumstances. Having self-compassion, proper expectation and practicing gratitude on a daily basis are keys to maintaining a healthy perspective. When we have a healthy perspective, we can assess situations more accurately and make decisions quicker. This helps to see what is happening in context. Developing a clear vision and a good planning process enables us to make better decisions and adjust when things go awry. A couple of things that have helped me along the way is having a clear vision statement and long term goals to maintain the proper outlook.
One of the most helpful practices that has assisted me in maintaining a proper, healthy perspective is gratitude. Implementing a daily gratitude practice helps to maintain positivity and purpose. Robert Emmons, Psychology Professor and Gratitude Researcher at the University of California-Davis, explains that there are two key components of practicing gratitude:
Here are some practices that can help you maintain a positive perspective in your life:
- Have a daily gratitude practice
- Start a mindful minute
- Record positive self-affirmations
- Have a regular physical activity regimen
- Keep a journal
- Take time for reflection
- Write about thoughts, feelings & emotions
- Read daily, especially literature that focuses on intentional areas of growth
- Listen to positive audios/podcasts
- Find music that is positive & uplifting
- Focus on self care
- Invest in counseling
- Find a mentor/guide that you can mastermind with
"Gratitude is one of the most powerful human emotions. Once expressed, it changes attitude, brightens outlook, and broadens our perspective." -Germany Kent
Greatness is a choice so is perspective.
Amanda & Brandon
Photo Credit: rhondacooper.org
General Electric is widely regarded as the first company to established a culture around SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goals. As a result, they had numerous portions of their company grow at an unprecedented rate. What most people don’t know, however, is that there were other sectors of the company that struggled greatly with SMART goals. This isn’t because they didn’t know how to implement them, on the contrary it was because they were so focused on hitting their SMART goals that they were setting the bar too low. You know these people, the ones who write something down on their to-do list after they have already completed the task just so they can get the satisfaction of crossing it off. Heck, maybe you are one of these people. This is the byproduct of never setting audacious goals. Goals that stretch you to the limit. Goals that make you reimagine what is possible. The rub in all of this is that both SMART goals and audacious goals are important if you want to create massive success.
Fortunately for General Electric they had legendary CEO Jack Welch at the helm who realized that something was amiss. While on a trip to observe the operations of various companies in Japan, Jack Welch learned of how the engineers behind the famous Japanese Bullet Train were constantly stretched by their superiors to build something that they thought was physically impossible. The result of this constant challenging of what was possible combined with the SMART goal approach is what helped them to create a train that could travel twice as fast as any developed previously (over 120 mph). The setting of audacious goals and stretching of what they thought was possible, was exactly what these departments at General Electric were missing. Jack Welch came to the realization that SMART goals were only one half of the puzzle and that his company needed to take the lid off of what they thought they could accomplish, set more audacious goals, and then combine them with the SMART strategy to systematically move themselves towards what they previously thought was unattainable. The result? Over a decade long dominance in the market as one of the most valuable companies in the world and Jack Welch being named by Fortune magazine as the “Manager of the Century.”
So why do we share all of this with you? It’s simple, the same goal setting strategies that helped General Electric can be applied in our lives as well. At the end of the day, a major corporation is just a bunch of individuals who have their goals tied into one another. We find that people are generally good at employing one of these two strategies but rarely combine the two like they should. Most people are either setting big goals, talking a big game, and then never developing any sort of daily rhythm to systematically work towards them, or they are setting goals that are so easy to hit so that they can feel good about completing the task that they never actually get anywhere. The magic is in the combination of the two, but here is the rub: it is going to take more intentionality and focus to do both of these together than to do them separately. So even though much more energy is going to be required of you, it is also one of the most important things that you can invest that energy into in your life. Having a mentor who has either already achieved the goals that you are looking to achieve, or is at least further down the road towards achieving them, will give you a leg up in setting these goals and also greatly enhance your chances achieving them.
Don’t allow yourself to go week after week, month after month, and year after year of your life not accomplishing the things you ultimately want to achieve. Dream big, set incremental SMART goals, and find a mentor to guide you. These are critical factors in helping you take the steps toward creating ultimate fulfillment in your life. You've got this.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: 80000hours.org
I was recently listened to an episode from Simon Sinek's 'Optimism' podcast and he said something that really got me reflecting. Paraphrasing, he said, "There is this entire section of the bookstore called 'Self Help' and not a single section called 'Help Others.' We are all so obsessed with trying to find that elusive thing called 'happiness' that we aren't reading books on how we 'can be happy' and impact other people." I thought this was so powerful. A while back, I wrote about why people should stop chasing happiness and instead start seeking fulfillment. Our belief is that the greatest path to fulfillment is serving, helping and impacting others. This is not a destination, it is a journey; it is an infinite game. If you want to create and ultimately leave a legacy, your work is never done.
In Simon Sinek's book, 'The Infinite Game," he discusses that in an infinite game, you can change the rules, help other players and evolve together instead of trying to hold each other down. Simon Sinek explains the five essential practices to adopting an infinite relationship:
These are really good reflection pieces to make the shift from a finite to an infinite mindset. That evolution takes time and takes intentionality. That evolution encourages us to clearly define our values, mission and purpose. When we operate in alignment with our values, mission and purpose, we can start to move towards a 'help others' paradigm and away from a 'help myself' commonality.
"When your life gets to the stage of being mindful and concerned with impacting and blessing lives, then you are pursuing wholeness as an individual."
-Sunday Adelaja, The Mountain of Ignorance
Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in personal development. I also believe, however, there has to be purpose-driven action; there has to be service to others, or we simply become constipated with information, but lack the application and intention. Society has built this very numbers-driven, results oriented, question/answer approach. We are pushed to focus on the finite instead of the infinite. If we are aligning values, mission and purpose with our activity, our journey and our processes; I believe, we can find much more joy and fulfillment in life.
"In weak cultures, people find safety in the rules. This is why we get bureaucrats. They believe a strict adherence to the rules provides them with job security. And in the process, they do damage to the trust inside and outside the organization. In strong cultures, people find safety in relationships. Strong relationships are the foundation of high-performing teams. And all high-performing teams start with trust."
-Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game
Culture = Values + Behavior
When we focus on relationships, built on trust, integrity and transparency; the shift becomes more clear from 'me' to 'us,' from 'help myself' to 'help others.'
Enjoy the journey,
Brandon & Amanda