Monday, August 14, 2006

Action and Complacency - How to Succeed and Avoid Failure

A good friend of my dad says this world belongs to the audacious and ignorant. This statement comes for the fact that many times its not the smartest nor most qualified people that succeed and seem to get ahead in life. Actually many times it turns out that the most ignorant, uneducated and audacious risk-takers are the ones that get the most out of life and have all the luck.

I have often wondered about this and have come to realize that success boils down to taking risks and action rather than being complacent. This sounds simple enough however complacency can be caused by many things such as procrastination, fear and analysis paralysis. These are the enemies that will keep you from tasting success that less deserving or qualified people seem to be having.

Often the more knowledgeable or educated you are, the more you are aware of the risks and less willing to take them. This can lead to analysis paralysis whereby you over analyze a situation / opportunity and never take action because you find all the ways it can go wrong and decide not to go through with it. This is why often you will find that bosses and managers are less frequently specialists or perfectionists - those are the people they hire to get the work done so they have time to be visionaries and work on the "big picture".

What can be done to turn things around for yourself and begin to enjoy some of the success that many around you are having?

  • Do something everyday that scares / challenges you - you will gain new skills and learn to take risks more easily to get faster results. (Ex. Introduce yourself and start conversations with total strangers - you never know who you might meet or what new relationships might bring)
  • Ask better questions, rather than feeling sorry for yourself and saying over and over that you just aren't lucky like some others, try to figure out what "lucky" people do and what allows them to succeed. Ask them yourself to find out what makes them do the things they do. (See above point!)
  • Read books by people who study success and getting results to gain further insights into getting your share of success. Two of my favorite authors on the subject are Tony Robbins and Robert Kiyosaki. Tony's book Unlimited Power is a great place to start since he deals with the human side of things like attitude and how to take immediate action and get immediate results. Robert Kiyosaki's books are geared towards success from business, investing and real estate.
  • Seek to constantly improve and keep track of your progress. Keeping a journal is a great way to do this since you can look back over the years and see how far you've come and what progress has been made.
  • Share and exchange with others what you've learned and benefit from their experiences and wisdom. That said I'd love to hear about your accomplishments and how you've overcome or plan to overcome your "complacency"!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Drink Yourself Thin & Become Smarter

Yes you read right, regularly drinking small amounts of alcohol may actually help you control and lose weight and improve your mental abilities at the same time!

I recently read an article in Men's Health Magazine in which a study on 8000 people revealed that those who drank 1 drink a day were 54% less likely to have a weight problem. At two drinks a day 41% were less likely to have a weight problem however the trend ends there. At 3 or more drinks a day your chances of having a weight problem starts to actually increase.

I had done a research paper in college where studies also found that after having 1 to 2 drinks your mental abilities would actually improve. You would be able to think faster and more clearly, as well as notice an improvement in your creativity. Like the study above though, drinking 3 or more drinks would have the opposite effect.

With both studies, it appears that any type of alcoholic drink will do as long as you stick to these amounts for each serving:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 4 ounces of wine
  • 1 ounce of liquor
Just remember not to overdo it! 1 to 2 drinks per day is beneficial, more than that, and you're asking for trouble!

Friday, June 30, 2006

13 Habits to Improve Your Life Today

Here's a list of 13 things you can do, starting today to improve your life.

These habits are from www.webmd.com, an established and reputable source for health advice on the internet. Follow them and you'll feel better, be in better shape and have a more positive outlook on life.

Habit 1: Eat Breakfast Every Morning

Research shows that breakfast eaters tend to take in more vitamins and minerals and less fat and cholesterol. This results in a leaner body, lower cholesterol count and considerably reduces the chances of overeating.

Eating breakfast can help hold off your hunger till lunchtime so you won't be tempted to hit the vending machine.

Breakfast appears to enhance alertness, attention and performance on the job.

If you don't have time to eat breakfast at home in the morning - take it with you, you won't regret it!

Habit 2: Include Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet

On top of being a great source of protein, fish which contains omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

New studies are finding that there might even be a link between getting more omega-3 in your diet and reducing allergies, asthma, eczema and autoimmune disorders.

What's the best fish to eat? Go for fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon.

Habit 3: Get Enough Sleep

This one's easy to do and will have a big impact on the quality of your life.

It's common sense that when we don't get enough sleep, we're tired, cranky and more prone to accidents and mistakes. However, many of us still don't get enough sleep.

Everyone is different so there is no perfect amount that applies to all people however research shows that 7 -10 hours per night is what we should aim for.

I know from experience that a good night's sleep has a direct impact on my outlook towards life. Futhermore, not getting enough sleep for long periods of time can lead to depression, poor eating habits, and even fatal accidents. Just to give you an idea, each year drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 car accidents, 1,500 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries in the US alone (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To accomplish this goal if you're having trouble, do it gradually by going to bed a half hour earlier each night. Do this for 21 days and then increase it to an hour. You should notice the positive effects soon after you make this a habit.

Habit 4: Make Social Connections

Humans are social beings, we need to feel connected to each other and have a social network. Studies have proven that social activities and networks (friends, family, social clubs, etc) have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.

Think about it, a close friend can cheer you up and help you with problems that alone would seem daunting. A family member can give you the support you need to succeed and get ahead in life. Being part of a club will give you a sense of belonging where you can share in the accomplishments of the organization while feeling proud for having done your part.

On a more technical side, group activities help keep the mind active and maintain desireable levels of serotonin - the brain chemical associated with mood. Lack of group or social activity causes the levels of serotonin to decrease leaving you open to anxiety and depression.

So get out there and make new friends and reconnect with relatives and old friends you've lost touch with!

Habit 5: Exercise

I won't go on and on about why you need to exercise and what it can do for you, but here's a short list to get you going:

  • Helps control weight
  • Maintains healthy bones, muscles and joints
  • Reduces risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Makes you feel better mentally and physically
  • Reduces your risk of death from heart disease
  • You'll look better physically and be more confident and emotionally stable
I know from experience that exercising will help you to think and move better, manage stress, improve your mood and get an energy boost. Boosting energy is ironic because most of us complain that we're too tired to exercise however once you get going you'll have more energy than before you started! You'll be a happier, livelier and more productive person!

I know that it can be hard to exercise when you're tired or uninspired - the trick to get moving is to do something you enjoy so that you'll exercise but not see it as a chore. See my previous post on biking to work as an example of this.

Habit 6: Take Care of Your Teeth - Brush and Floss

This one was an eye opener for me. It seems that poor oral hygiene can take years off your life! Here's why:

Teeth have a blood supply and that blood comes directly from the heart. Researchers suspect that the bacteria that produce dental plaque enter the bloodstream. These bacteria are somehow associated with the inflammation that occurs with plaque that blocks blood vessels and causes heart disease.

Not only that, your teeth help you chew, and speak properly and smile. Chewing properly helps control your weight and energy level since you're stomach will have an easier time digesting smaller bit of food. Speaking properly and smiling will definitely help you maintain your confidence and improve the quality of your life.

Habit 7: Find a Hobby

The joy and relaxation gained from having a hobby will help you live a happier and healthier life. You'll even recover better and faster from colds and more serious illnesses. Plus you'll burn more calories than just sitting in front of the TV!

If that's not enough to convince you, studies show that people with hobbies, tend to have more drive and interest in things and other people. They are more interested and involved in life and seem to have more things to look forward to.

Habit 8: Protect Your Skin

The sun can be great for our skin and out moods, but overexposing ourselves to it is just plain asking for trouble.

If you want to protect your skin and look younger (Just think of those compulsive sunbathers), follow these tips:
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
  • Wear a hat with a rim and other protective clothing
  • Don't deliberately sunbathe - vanity will kill you
  • Try to avoid sun exposure between 10am and 3pm
All that said, you shouldn't hide from the sun since as I've noted above it can do wonders for your mood. Just use common sense because as the saying goes, too much of anything is not good.

Habit 9: Snack the Healthy Way

We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us but did you know that these plant foods can:
  • Reduce the risk of some cancers
  • Beat the signs of aging
  • Improve memory
  • Promote heart health
  • Enhance the immune system
They make the ideal snack since they are so convinient - no cooking or perparation, just bite, chew and swallow!

Habit 10: Drink Water

Water is essential to good health. Your body needs it to keep properly hydrated, joints need it to stay in motion, and vital organs like your heart, brain, kidney and liver need it to work properly.

Here's the kicker: If you don't get enough water, your body goes into emergency mode and clings to every single water molecule it can find. What does this mean? The stored molecules appear as extra weight and the weight is only released once the body gets enough water. Also drinking more water can help reduce hunger which in turn will help you control your weight better.

I've also noticed that dehydration causes similar symptoms as sleep deprivation like fatigue, moodiness, difficulty to concentrate and think clearly.

So this one's a no brainer - drink water to feel and look better!

Habit 11: Drink Tea

We keep hearing about how tea, especially green tea has so many antioxidants that help fight cancer and the aging effects. Numerous studies have been done to monitor the benefits and they just seem to be finding more and more of them.

Here are a few:
  • Improve memory
  • Prevent cavities
  • Fight cancer
  • Combat the effects of aging
  • Prevent heart disease
  • It's calming and relaxing
I recommend drinking organic green teas because there's less chance of chemical contamination that could counter the good effects of the antioxidants. Also avoid using sugar or artificial sweetners - try honey instead.

Habit 12: Take a Daily Walk

Here's an easy way to get some exercise in your life without a lot of effort - take a daily walk.

People that walk often tend to lead longer healthier lives:

Walk whenever you can. For instance if you take the bus get off a few stops before yours and walk it, or if you drive, park further away and walk to your destination and back. The idea is to move more during the day. Need motivation? It takes only 20 steps to burn 1 calorie!

Here are some other ways to walk more:
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator
  • Walk to the store
  • Window shop at the mall
  • Get up from your desk and visit your coworker instead of sending an email or instant message
  • Go for a walk with friends and talk instead of meeting for a meal - You won't even notice that you're actually doing some exercise
On the more extreme side you can take part in a pilgrimage such as the Camino de Santiago in the north of Spain. People from all over the world participate and walk for hundreds and some even thousands of kilometers. I did this walk myself and after only 3 days of walking an average of 25km per day I started to develop a six pack! I had no idea you could get abs so quickly just from walking! Try it for yourself!

Habit 13: Plan

"If you fail to plan you plan to fail!"

Many of the above habits require some planning to be able to fit them into our busy lives. If you don't sit down and think about how you will go about making changes, then chances are they will never happen.

Think about it like a business - most start from an idea, but without some planning they would have never gotten off the ground and succeeded. The habits I've just talked about are just ideas and dreams. They will only become a reality and lead you to success if you take the time to plan how you can put them into practice in a way that makes sense for you. Remember we are all different with different schedules, demands on our time, etc, so given that there are many ways to reach the same goal you have to choose the one that works best for you. Planning will help you do that.

Here's a recap of the 13 healthy habits again:
  1. Eat Breakfast Every Morning
  2. Include Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet
  3. Get Enough Sleep
  4. Make Social Connections
  5. Exercise
  6. Take Care of Your Teeth - Brush and Floss
  7. Find a Hobby
  8. Protect Your Skin
  9. Snack the Healthy Way
  10. Drink Water
  11. Drink Tea
  12. Take a Daily Walk
  13. Plan

I hope you find these habits as useful as I have in making a positive change in your life. I wish you all the best and would like to hear how you're doing with these habits so don't be shy to leave a comment!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

How to Make Money With A Blog

In this post I will touch briefly on setting up a blog and making money with it using Google's adsense advertising program.

Basically the first thing you'll want to do is to write about something you enjoy and are passionate about. This will make it easy to update and keep the content fresh. Also the idea is to write something that is of interest to others as well. By doing so, this will help your blog gain more readers and contributors.

A site to check out for great blog tips and strategies is http://technorati.com

Once you know what you’re going to write about, you can set up a blog within minutes by using one of the free blogging platforms such as www.blogger.com

As for making money with your blog using Google’s adsense you can sign up for an adsense account once you’ve created your blog so that you can enter the appropriate URL address when asked for it.

To sign up for free visit: https://www.google.com/adsense

Actually if you use blogger, you can set up your adsense account directly from the blogger set up menus.

So how do you make money with your blog?

Well it’s quite simple: adsense allows you to place targeted ads that are relevant to your content (what you write about) on your blog. Every time someone clicks on one of the ads, Google will pay you a portion of the revenue they get from that particular advertiser.

Note: The ads will automatically be targeted to your content since Google analyzes your text to match it with ads that deal with your subject matter.

That’s how to make money with a blog in a nutshell. Just remember to write about compelling things you are passionate about in order to keep people coming to your blog. Traffic is the key to making money – if no one is interested in coming to your blog, then no one will click on your ads!

A few simple tips to get more people to your blog include:

  • Tell friends, family and co-workers about it
  • Join social networks that deal with your subject matter and get involved by writing on them - don't forget to mention that you have a blog where you talk about the subject. http://www.43things.com is a good example.
  • Buy traffic by advertising on the different search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN. (Beware though that this could be costly so do your research)
  • Look for cheaper sources of Search Engine Marketing such as Miva or Kanoodle.
  • Request that other sites/blogs with similar or related content put a link to your blog on their site/blog you can do the same for them. (Thsi is called link exchange)
There are other ways to gain traffic to your blog, but this will be a good start.

That's it for now - Feel free to post a comment on how you are doing with your blog and any tips and strategies that you may have.

Good Luck and Happy Blogging!

Procrastination - Simple Ways on How to Overcome This Obstacle

Procrastination is the Enemy of Success and Accomplishment.

We are all guilty of procrastination - some of us more than others. Being such a tough habit to break, many of us find it easier to keep doing it rather than take the steps necessary to change.
Personally I find that I tend to procrastinate most when the task is lengthy, boring or sometimes difficult.

What helps me overcome this habit is breaking down the task at hand in smaller more manageable pieces and focusing on each one at a time rather than being overwhelmed by looking at the task as a whole. If the task is boring, I focus on the enjoyable things I can do once this boring task is completed and out of my way. Also realizing that time and opportunities are passing me by while I procrastinate usually gets me motivated to get whatever needs to get done out of the way. In the end, the job still needs to get done and the more you put if off, the more stress and anxiety you create for yourself.

I find that when I'm really having a hard time to tackle a task, the easiest way to get going and overcome procrastination is to take a few minutes to map out a plan of action in the form of a TO DO list. This way it's easier to visualize how to get it all done and what needs to get done every step of the way.

When it comes to procrastination, the saying "good things come to those who wait" almost never applies.

Remember that procrastination is the enemy of success and accomplishment!

Please feel free to add your comments and any tips and strategies you have on overcoming procrastination.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bike To Work - Find Your Passion and Feel Better!

I’ve finally found a way to get some regular exercise into my hectic life – I’ve started to bike to work as often as possible. It’s a 40 minute ride each way for a total of about 8 miles (12.5km) each way. I love to bike so it was easy to get into.

I realized that it takes me the same amount of time to get to work or less by bike than it does by car. I’ve noticed immediate changes: For one, I’m more energetic throughout the day and feel more positive and happy about my life, family and work. I do a better job in all areas (work, home, friends), negative stressors affect me less, I’m more at peace and able to think clearly.

The idea is to find something that you enjoy doing so that it's not a chore. Let your passion drive you and you won’t resist. Before you know it you’ll be exercising regularly and will be feeling great about yourself!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Books to Stimulate Your Personal Growth and Improve Your Life

Hi everyone,

In this post I want to bring to your attention three excellent books that will help you with your continuous improvement goals and get you on your way to financial freedom.

The first book which is one of my favorites is Anthony Robbins' "Unlimite Power". This is the first book he published and in my opinion the most inspirational and practical. In it Anthony Robbins illustrates how you can "have, achieve, and create anything out of life. He shows how your state of mind determines what you can and can't do, and that all successful results can be modeled and duplicated."

This book has had a profound influence in my life and I like to revisit it when I'm feeling out of sorts and need to readjust my state of mind in order to attain my goals. In it you will find practical information with real life examples on how to accomplish anything you set your mind to, whether it be to:

  • Eliminate fears and phobias
  • Fuel your body with spectacular health and energy
  • Dramatically improve your relationships
  • Become a persuasive communicator and create instant rapport with anyone you meet
  • Use the success of others to remodel yourself
  • Discover different ways to happiness and wealth
I can't say enough great things about this book - you should definitely pick up a copy and judge for yourself, you won't regret it!

The other two books that I recommend reading are written by Robert Kiyosaki and are titled, "Rich Dad Poor Dad" and "Cashflow Quadrant". This books are geared towards helping you attain the financial freedom you are seeking.

Robert Kiyosaki teaches people to be millionaires and goes into detail on the different ways you can earn money. Most of us know very little about finances and money because the school system does not do a good job of educating us in this area. The fact that in many cultures, money is a taboo subject doesn't help either. These books will open your eyes to how finances and money work and how to make money work for you and not the other way around.

You will find practical, easy to understand advice and strategies to get you onto the road of financial independence and freedom. Robert Kiyosaki reveals the financial strategies that the wealthy use and how you can replicate those strategies at your level to get out of the rat race. In case you don't know what the rat race is, it's what most of us do to earn a living - we work for someone else as employees and live paycheck to paycheck, paying bills and accumulating more debt as the years go on.

If you'd like to get out of the rat race you should definitely take a look at these books as well as Robert's other books and products. They are a real eye opener and will give you the tools you need to break the bad financial habits you currently have.

If you'd like to get these books for less, I strongly recommend searching on Ebay. You'll be sure to find new and used copies cheaper than in your local bookstore.

The three books again are:
  1. "Unlimited Power" by Anthony Robbins
  2. "Rich Dad Pool Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki
  3. "Cashflow Quadrant" by Robert Kiyosaki

Already have copies of these books? I'd like to hear what you think of them and how they have made an impact on your lives.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Intro - What Does X Marks the Spots Mean?

"My Greatest Regret in Life is Not Having Been Born With Forty Years Experience!"


My vision for this blog is to share practical information with you that you will be able take action on. How many times has it happened to you that if you had access to certain information or knowledge at an earlier time in your life, you would have made better choices or taken a different path in life? Sometimes certain knowledge can be so powerful that it can change the outcome and quality of people's lives. My goal is to share and exchange what I've learned so far with you while learning from you at the same time, with the intention of improving the quality of our lives. Welcome to X marks the spots!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, what does X Marks the Spots Mean? Well my name begins with an X so that explains the X part of it. And we all know that buried treasure is marked with an X of some sort. In this case the treasures are powerful pieces of information that can have a huge impact on your life. Happy Hunting!