happy and sexyWe all want to enhance the quality of our lives, become better people, achieve more, and overall be better rounded individuals. That’s why we set personal development goals.

Below you’ll discover 16 personal development goals that will make you happier and sexier.

Reminder: A life list–or bucket list–is a great tool for creating a life that rocks. Discover the transformational system for creating a life list and then turning it into reality. Click here to find out more.

1. Become More Confident. Your self-esteem, or your self-confidence, is basically what you think about yourself: how competent you think you are in dealing with life’s challenges, and how worthy you feel of happiness and success. One of the reasons why bolstering your self-confidence is important is because is there’s a strong correlation between confidence and success.

In his book, “The Magic Lamp”, Keith Ellis refers to a study conducted in 1921 by Dr. Lewis Terman of Stanford University involving over 1,500 gifted children. The study revealed that IQ is not the most important ingredient for success. Instead, Terman found that there were three factors that were much more important than intelligence in determining success.

One of these factors was self-confidence (the other two were setting goals and persevering).

2. Improve Your Body Language. Body language is nonverbal communication which involves gestures and movements. Studies have shown that the right body language can help you with all of the following:

  • It can help you to connect with others and get your message across more effectively.
  • It can communicate confidence and assertiveness.
  • The right body postures can make you more persistent.
  • Certain body postures can improve your performance.

You can read about seven ways in which body language can positively influence your life here.

3. Learn to Get Along With Others. Yesterday I was watching  a TV show called “Person of Interest”. One of the main characters–Reese–is working as a detective and his supervisor tells hims that he has to start meeting with a psychologist. During his first appointment Reese does the following:

  • He takes coffee for the psychologist.
  • He notices a photograph of the psychologist with her cat and initiates a conversation about the animal.
  • He leans in when he talks to her and tells her a personal story.

The psychologist quickly calls him on it: He was trying to manipulate her by taking her coffee, talking to her about her cat, and simulating trust and closeness.

I’m telling you this story as an illustration that there are things that you can do to create rapport with others. Of course, you should be honest and your objective shouldn’t be to manipulate other people, but it’s always a good idea to learn ways in which you can better relate and get along with others.

4. Stop Procrastinating. Procrastination has been called the thief of time, opportunity’s assassin, and the grave in which dreams are buried. Fortunately, procrastination is not a character trait, but a habit. And just as you learned the habit of procrastination, you can unlearn it. Make better use of the time that you have by overcoming procrastination.

5. Become an Early Riser. There are many benefits to becoming an early riser, including watching the sun rise, getting some early morning exercise, being able to work on a project just because it’s important to you before the day officially gets started, and so on. In addition, studies show that early rises are happier, healthier, and more productive than their late rising counterparts.

6. Become More Proactive. In his best-selling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen R. Covey explains that the first habit of people who accomplish what they set out to do is that they’re proactive. Proactive people do the following:

  • They see themselves as being the creators of their lives.
  • They don’t identify themselves as victims of external conditions.
  • They don’t allow others to dictate their fate.
  • They take responsibility for the results that they get.

If you’re going to create the life that you want for yourself, you need to be proactive.

7. Acquire Conflict Resolution Skills. Conflict is a part of life. After all, people can’t be expected to agree on everything (I once read that if two people always agree, one of them isn’t necessary). The question is whether conflict–when it arises–will be resolved effectively or lead to discord.

Having the ability to resolve disagreements rationally and settle disputes amicably will make you happier and more successful.

8. Release the Past. Most of us are haunted by the ghosts of our past: that opportunity that we let slip by; those kids who bullied us in the playground; that love interest who left us for someone else; that professor who graded us unfairly; that parent who was constantly putting us down; and so on. In order to be happy in the present, we each need to release the ghosts of the past.

9. Read More. You may have heard that knowledge is power, and one of the best ways to acquire knowledge is by reading. In addition, researchers have found that gaining new knowledge can satisfy our need for competence, which makes us happier.

Read books that will help you to learn skills that will allow you to do better in life. Here are three examples:

  • Read business books to improve your performance at work;
  • Read parenting books to be a better parent; and
  • Read personal development books to become better at setting goals, coping with setbacks, dealing with perfectionism, and so on.

10. Become More Resilient. Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity. It’s the difference between facing your problems bravely and confidently, and feeling helpless and like you can’t move on. Fortunately, you can learn how to bounce back from any problem or challenge stronger and smarter.

11. Manage Stress Effectively. Stress is the body’s reaction to anything that requires a response. Feeling stress can keep us alert and motivate us to pursue our goals. However, if there’s too much stress this can lead to distress. Distress can cause headaches, elevated blood pressure, and chest pain. It can lead you to have problems sleeping and can even make you sick.

Knowing how to manage stress effectively–using good stress to learn and grow, and being able to release stress once it starts to reach a negative level–is vital for personal development.

12. Overcome Limiting Beliefs. Limiting beliefs keep us trapped in our comfort zone and prevent us from trying new things and taking risks for fear of getting hurt. We can have limiting beliefs about anything–money, success, relationships, and so on. You can even have limiting beliefs about yourself and what you’re capable of.

Allowing limiting beliefs to hold you back is not sexy, and it certainly will not make you happy. Identify your limiting beliefs, overcome them, and replace them with positive beliefs that will allow you to achieve what you want from life.

13. Increase Your Willpower. Willpower is essential to your ability to accomplish anything worthwhile. It influences your health, your finances, your relationships, your professional success, and all other areas of your life. Whatever goals you’ve set for yourself, you need willpower in order to achieve them.

14. Become More Mindful. Being mindful helps us to recognize the abundance and the good that is already present in our lives. However, we spend a lot of time thinking about things that aren’t happening in the present moment: remembering the past or thinking about the future. This is called mind wandering. In addition, psychologists have found that mind wandering makes us unhappy.

An important component of happiness is learning to live in the moment; that is, becoming more mindful.

15. Learn to Make Better Decisions. I’ve written several posts on this blog on how to make better decisions. That’s because the choices–or the decisions we make–determine the quality of our lives and the outcomes that we get. Our decisions shape our lives, so the better you get at making decision, the better your life will be.

16. Work on Your Attitude. Your attitude is your state of mind. It’s also the way in which you respond to situations and to other people. One of the best ways to get what you want from life is to constantly adopt the attitude that is most conducive to getting you what you want.

Conclusion

Live your best life by setting personal goals that make you a better person. The 16 personal development goals explained above are a good start.

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Asia mapTwo of my favorite novels are “The Good Earth”–which is set in China–, and “Memoirs of a Geisha”–which is set in Japan. So it’s a wonder that I’ve never been to Asia. However, I’m definitely going, and hopefully soon.

Below you’ll find 16 must-see landmarks in Asia. Add them to your wish list, bucket list, dream list, life list, or whatever you want to call your list of life goals.

Reminder: A life list–or bucket list–is a great tool for creating a life that rocks. Discover the transformational system for creating a life list and then turning it into reality. Click here to find out more.

Taj Mahal1. Visit the Taj Mahal, a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. While the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal, it’s actually an integrated complex of structures.

 

Gateway of India2. See the Gateway of India, a monument built during British rule in Mumbai, India. The Gateway of India is located on the waterfront overlooking the Arabian Sea

 

 

National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall3. Visit the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan (officially the Republic of China). The monument, which was erected in memory of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China, is surrounded by a park.

The structure is framed on the north and south by the National Theater and National Concert Hall.

Qutub Minar4. See the Qutub Minar, located in Delhi, India. It’s the tallest minaret in India. The Qutub Minar is made of red sandstone and marble and is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur’an. The surrounding archaeological area contains funerary buildings, notably the Alai-Darwaza Gate, and two mosques.

Petra5. Visit Petra, a historical and archaeological city in Ma’an, Jordan, that’s famous for its rock-cut architecture which dates back to 312 BC. Petra was literally carved directly into vibrant red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces. It’s one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture.

Dome of the Rock6. See the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. It enshrines the rock from which Muḥammad is said to have ascended to heaven after his miraculous journey from Mecca to Jerusalem on the winged steed al-Buraq, and is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.

Kuwait towers7. See the Kuwait Towers, Kuwait City, Kuwait. The Kuwait Towers are a group of three slender towers in Kuwait City, standing on a promontory (land that juts out into a body of water) into the Persian Gulf. They were officially inaugurated on 26 February 1977. The towers have a viewing sphere 123m above sea level form which you can get great views of Kuwait City as well as the waters of the Arabian Gulf.

The Great Wall8. Visit the Great Wall of China located along China’s historical northern borders. The Great Wall begins in the east at Shanhaiguan in Hebei province and ends at Jiayuguan in Gansu province to the west. It was continuously built from the 3rd century BC to the 17th century AD, and is over 20,000 kilometers long.

Burj Khalifa building9. See the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The centerpiece  of downtown Dubai, this skyscraper is the world’s tallest building. In fact, it’s 60% higher than the world’s second tallest building.

In addition, it has the world’s highest observation deck, and it’s the tallest free standing structure in the world.

 

azadi monument10. Visit the fifty-foot high Azadi Tower (Freedom Tower) in Tehran, Iran. Built in 1971, the Azadi Tower is a combination of both Islamic and Sassanid architectural style, as well as of modern and ancient cultures.

Forbidden City11. Visit the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. The Forbidden City was built between 1406 and 1420 during the Ming Dynasty as a vast complex of palaces and administrative buildings. It has been the imperial home of 24 emperors belonging to two dynasties: the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. It is now the Palace Museum.

The Great Buddha of Kamakura12. Visit the Great Buddha of Kamakura in Kamakura (just south of Tokyo), Japan. It’s a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha seated serenely in the grounds of Kotokuin, a Buddhist temple. The Great Buddha is 13.35 meters high.

Angkor Wat13. Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia, and it’s the gateway to the Angkor region. Angkor–which means “city”–served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. Angkor spreads over an area of over 60 miles and contains 1,000 stone temples set upon forest and farmland.

One of these temples in particular, Angkor Wat, is the heart and soul of Cambodia. Built in the early 12th century,this temple–which at first was a Hindu temple and then a Buddhist temple–continues to be the largest religious monument in the world. Today, it continues to serve as a house of worship and is featured on the Cambodian flag.

The four mile temple has five central tours, representing the sacred Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Hindu mythology. The moat surrounding Angkor Wat symbolizes the oceans.

Lord Murugan14. See the Lord Murugan Statue situated outside the Batu Caves in Gombak, Malaysia (13 kilometers north of the capital, Kuala Lumpur). Lord Murugan is a Hindu deity, and the gold plated statue of Lord Murugan is 42.7-meters (140 ft) high.

 

 

 

Hagia Sofia15. Visit the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. The Hagia Sophia was built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian in the early 6th century, and for a thousand years it was the largest cathedral in Christendom. In the mid-fifteenth century, Constantinople (as Istanbul was then known) fell to the Ottoman Turks, and Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque. Today, it’s a museum. This building is considered to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque16. See the Sultan Ahmed Mosque –commonly known as the Blue Mosque–in Istanbul, Turkey. It t was built from 1609 to 1616, at a stone’s throw from Hagia Sophia.

 

Conclusion

Live your best life by making a list of life goals that include everything that you want to see, do, and experience.

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I’ve been lucky enough to visit Europe several times, and I lived in England and Italy for a while.

Europe has so many incredible landmarks, that it’s difficult to pick the best ones. However, I gave it a try (although I must confess that I have not been to all of these).

Below you’ll find 17 must-see landmarks in Europe. Add them to your wish list, bucket list, dream list, life list, or whatever you want to call your list of life goals.

Reminder: A life list–or bucket list–is a great tool for creating a life that rocks. Discover the transformational system for creating a life list and then turning it into reality. Click here to find out more.

Eiffel Tower1. Visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower has become a global icon of France. It’s the tallest structure in Paris, and can be seen from all over the city. The Eiffel Tower’s three platforms are home to two restaurants, several buffets, a banquet hall, a champagne bar, and many gift shops.

arc de triomphe2. Visit the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile in Paris, France. The Arc de Triomphe stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Although it was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon in order to commemorate his victories, it was not completed until 1836 during the reign of Louis-Philippe. The triumphal arch is adorned with many reliefs, most of them commemorating Napoleon’s battles.

Mont Saint-Michel3. Visit Mont Saint-Michel –and its bay–near Normandy, FranceMont Saint-Michel is an easy day trip from Paris. It’s a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael which is perched on a rocky islet in the midst of vast sandbanks. The abbey was built in the 11th century. A well-preserved medieval village is nestled at the bottom of the Mont-St-Michel geological mount.

Alhambra (2)4. Visit the Alhambra, a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. The  Alhambra was built during the Moorish occupation of Spain, and it reflects the exquisite culture of the moors. The Alhambra’s Islamic palaces were built for the last Muslim emirs of the Nasrid dynasty. The Palace of Charles V, built in 1527, was inserted in the Alhambra within the Nasrid fortifications.

El Escorial (2)5. Visit El Escorial, a vast building complex located in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, near Madrid, in central SpainEl Escorial is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school. It’s the most important architectural monument of the Spanish Renaissance. Construction of El Escorial began in 1563 and ended in 1584.

Acropolis (2)6. Visit the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, in Athens, Greece. The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a hill of rock overlooking the city of Athens. It contains the remains of several ancient buildings of historical significance, the most famous being the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena.

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament7. Visit the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London, England. The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, It’s commonly known as the Houses of Parliament. The building’s famous tower is now called the Elizabeth Tower, although the structure has largely become synonymous with Big Ben, the heaviest of the five bells it houses.

Buckingham Palace8. Visit Buckingham Palace in London, England. Buckingham Palace became the official London residence of the British sovereigns with the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front which contains the well-known balcony on which the Royal Family congregate to greet crowds outside.

tower bridge9. Visit the Tower Bridge in London, England. The Tower Bridge is close to the Tower of London, from which it takes its name. Built between 1886 and 1894, it was designed to be raised in order to allow ships to pass. The Tower Bridge offers fabulous views of London from its high-level walkway.

Stonehenge10. Visit Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones that were erected roughly 4500 years ago. There are many theories as to why Stonehenge was constructed but none have been confirmed. The biggest of its stones, known as sarsens, are up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall and weigh 25 tons on average. “Bluestones” weighing up to 4 tons were transported from Wales, 160 miles away. How these massive stones were transported is an enigma.

Admiralty Arch11. Visit  the Admiralty Arch in London, England. The Admiralty Arch is a building which incorporates an archway with five arches providing road and pedestrian access between the Mall–the ceremonial road leading up to Buckingham Palace –and Trafalgar Square. The Admiralty Arch plays an important role on ceremonial occasions. There are now plans to turn it into a fashionable hotel.

Trevi Fountain12. Visit the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) in the Trevi District of Rome, Italy. Featured in the film, “La Dolce Vita”, the Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city of Rome. Designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732, it depicts Neptune’s chariot being led by Tritons with sea horses. Tradition holds that if visitors throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain—with their back to the fountain–, they will return to Rome.

Pantheon13. Visit the Pantheon in Rome, Italy. Dating from 125 AD, the Pantheon is the most complete ancient building in Rome and one of Rome’s most spectacular sights. Although it was originally built as a temple to all the Roman gods (“pantheon” means “all the gods”), it is now a Catholic church.

The Coliseum14. Visit the Coliseum, an elliptical amphitheater in the center of the city of Rome, Italy. The Coliseum was built approximately 2,000 years ago to host violent games–such as gladiatorial contest–which were a form of entertainment for the Romans of the time. It was capable of holding approximately 50,000 spectators. The Coliseum is considered to be one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering.

Leaning Tower of Pisa15. Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa. The Tower of Pisa is famous for tilting toward one side. Although it was designed to be perfectly vertical, the Tower of Pisa started to lean during construction. The Tower of Pisa is one of the four buildings that make up the cathedral complex, called Campo dei Miracoli or Piazza dei Miracoli, which means Field of Miracles.

Brandenburg Gate16. Visit the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. It’s a former city gate which was rebuilt in the late 18th century as a triumphal arc symbolizing peace. During the Cold War,  the Brandenburg Gate stood between East and West Berlin. It’s made of sandstone and is one of the finest examples of German classicism. There are six Doric columns on both sides which support the 11 meter-deep transverse beam and divide the gate into five passages.

Hungarian Parliament Building17. Visit the Hungarian Parliament Building, the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary. It’s the most outstanding landmark on the Pest side of the Danube in Budapest, Hungary. Built in the Gothic Revival style, the Hungarian Parliament Building has a symmetrical facade and a central dome. The dome is Renaissance Revival architecture. When the parliament is not in session, the impressive interior of the Parliament Building can be visited.

Tweet This: These 17 European Landmarks are on my list of must-have experiences.

Conclusion

Live your best life by making a list of life goals that include everything that you want to see, do, and experience. You can find 10,000 ideas for your life list or bucket list here.

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Live Your Best Life Workbook - Adventures-3DIn my post on 16 Ways to Create a Life that Rocks I wrote that everyone should plan one adventure a year.

Do you have a list of the adventures you would like to go on? Do you want to swim with dolphins, jump out of a plane, or ride a snow mobile at the famous Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in British Columbia, Canada?

Use my eBook–“Live Your Best Life Workbook – Adventures” to create a list that’s packed with fun adventures .

This workbook is divided into the following five main areas:

  • Water Adventures
  • Sky Adventures
  • Land Adventures
  • Space Adventures
  • Animal Adventures

It has ideas and prompts to help you create a list of adventure goals that will have you living your best life in no time.

“Live Your Best Life Workbook – Adventures” is a 189-Page PDF with over 22,500 words. It contains 71 worksheets, 285 images, links to helpful web sites and videos, and over 550 ideas so that you can begin planning the adventures that you want to go on right away.

Here are two sample pages:

Live Your Best Life Workbook - Adventures-Sample

“Live Your Best Life Workbook – Adventures” is a digital product, which means you’ll receive a download link immediately upon purchase (nothing will be shipped to you). It costs only $9.95. Buy it now!

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dreamThe famous English crime writer P.D. James once said the following: “It shows considerable wisdom to know what you want in life and then to direct all your energies towards getting it.” However, few people know what they truly want in life.

A great tool for deciding what it is that you want–or for uncovering your heart’s desire–is to ask yourself questions. Below you’ll discover 50 dream triggers you can use in order to decide what it is that you want from life. They were taken from my eBook, “Guidebook of Dreams – 1,000 Triggers For Uncovering Your Heart’s Desire.”

Dream Triggers: Finances

Here are five dream triggers for the area of finances:

1. What’s your financial philosophy?

2. How much money do you want to earn (what would you like your salary to be)?

3. Would you like your paycheck to increase by a certain amount or a certain percentage each year?

4. What would you like your pay-structure to be (% from salary, % from commissions, % from bonuses)?

5. What do you need to do in order to put your financial life in order?

Dream Triggers: Learning/Personal Development

Here are five dream triggers for the area of Learning/Personal Development:

1. Do you need to take steps to stop procrastinating? How do you procrastinate?

2. Do you need to improve your focus and concentration?

3. Do you want to create a self-education plan for yourself (learning through books and online resources)? Is there a blueprint or template you can follow?

4. What skills do you need to acquire in order to be able to achieve your goals?

5. Are there any continuing-education courses which you would like to take at your local college or at the learning annex?

Dream Triggers: Vocation/Career

Here are five dream triggers for the area of Vocation/Career:

1. What would make you look forward to going to work each day?

2. What would make you feel that your work matters?

3. What makes you feel energized?

4. What can you do that would meet a significant need in the world?

5. How would you like to make this world a better place?

Dream Triggers: Love/Family

Here are five dream triggers for the area of Love/Family:

1. What qualities do you want in a romantic partner? What are the top ten characteristics that you look for in a romantic partner?

2. Do you have the qualities that you’re looking for in a romantic partner? If not, how can you acquire those qualities?

3. What would you like your relationship with your partner to be like?

4. What would you like your courtship to be like?

5. What kinds of things would you like to do with your romantic partner?

Dream Triggers: Social/Community

Here are five dream triggers for the area of Social/Community;

1. Are you surrounded by people who want the very best for you and who stand with you in the vision of what you’re becoming? Who are these people?

2. Do you need to create a better support system for yourself? How can you do this?

3. What are the top ten qualities a friend should have (treats people with respect; listens but doesn’t judge; has a quirky sense of humor; is an artist; lives with passion; doesn’t sweat the small stuff; is loyal and trustworthy)?

4. Which of your friends have these qualities?

5. Do you have these ten qualities? If not, how can you develop these qualities?

Dream Triggers: Dwelling

Here are five dream triggers for the area of Dwelling:

1. What region of the world do you want to live in (North America, Central America, Europe, Asia, and so on)?

2. What country do you want to live in? Is there a particular state or providence of that country that you prefer?

3. Do you want to live in a small town or in a bustling city? Do you want to live in the outskirts of the city?

4. What kind of climate do you want to live in? Do you want to live somewhere with four seasons? Do you want to avoid the cold at all costs?

5. Think of your dwelling as the setting for your life story; what is the setting like?

Dream Triggers: Spirituality

Here are five dream triggers for the area of Spirituality:

1. What does spirituality mean to you?

2. Does spirituality play an important role in your life? If not, would you like for it to play a more important role?

3. What would make you feel spiritually fulfilled?

4. Would you like to start a meditation practice? What steps do you plan to take in order to start meditating?

5. Would you like to take up an active meditation practice, such as Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong? Are you going to enroll in a class, purchase a DVD, or get one-on-one training in one of these techniques?

Dream Triggers: Fitness/Health

Here are five dream triggers for the area of Fitness/Health:

1. Would you like to be at your ideal weight? What is your ideal weight?

2. What percentage of body fat are you aiming for?

3. Do you have target measurements that you would like to reach (such as waist, hips, and so on)?

4. Which body parts do you need to tone?

5. What are your fitness goals (for example, be able to do a certain number of sit ups and pull ups, having six-pack abs, being able to hold a two-minute plank, and so on)?

Dream Triggers: Travel/Adventure

Here are five dream triggers for the area of Travel/Adventure:

1. Are there any hotels you’ve always dreamed of staying at, such as an underwater hotel or the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, New York?

2. What natural wonders would you like to see?

3. What state parks would you like to visit?

4. Would you like to observe the Antarctic wildlife?

5. What famous world festivals would you like to attend?

Dream Triggers: Possessions

Here are five dream triggers for the area of Possessions:

1. Are you happy with your current possessions? On a scale from 1 to 10, what’s your current level of happiness with your possessions?

2. Are you surrounded only by those things that you really need or that bring you joy?

3. Do you need to take inventory of what you currently own? How can you get started with this?

4. Are there items that you own that need to be repaired or replaced?

5. Are you giving proper maintenance to your possessions?

Conclusion

One of the best ways to determine what it is that you want is by asking yourself questions such as those above. “Guidebook of Dreams – 1,000 Triggers For Uncovering Your Heart’s Desire” is part of the “How to Live Your Best Life” system, the system that will help you decide what you want out of life and will show you how to get it.

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documents every adult needsThere are certain documents that every adult should have. These are documents that will help you to put your affairs in order so that you can live a better life, plan for your future, and let others know what you want in case you become incapacitated or pass away.

Here are the 15 documents that every adult should have:

1. A Personal Manifesto. A personal manifesto is a declaration of your core values and beliefs, what you stand for, and how you intend to live your life. It functions both as a statement of principles and as a call to action. Here are detailed instructions for writing one: How to Write a Personal Manifesto.

2. A Resume. A resume captures your career experience and highlights your accomplishments and achievements. You need to have an up-to-date resume, even if you have a job. Why?

  • You could be asked for your resume for a speaking engagement;
  • A head hunter might contact you out of the blue;
  • A better career opportunity could materialize; or
  • You could lose your job unexpectedly.

In all of these scenarios, it pays to be prepared.

3. A Career Plan. A career plan lays out the steps that you plan to take during your work life in order to have the greatest impact in your field and achieve your monetary and career goals. It can be very simple or very detailed.

At the very least it should include a list of your skills, interests, and abilities; your career goals; the specific skills, training, and experience that you’ll need to achieve each of your career goals; and a plan for acquiring any skills or experience you don’t currently have.

4. A Personal Income Statement. Creating a personal income statement will help you to determine exactly how much money you have coming in and going out each month. The first step is to determine your monthly income.

Begin by determining the amount of money that you’re fairly certain will come in from your job, including salary, commissions, bonuses, and so on. Then, add any other money you’re expecting. Here are some examples:

  • Money from a second job.
  • Money from freelance work.
  • Interest income.
  • Dividend income.
  • Rental income.

Once you have your monthly income, determine your total monthly expenses — how much you spend each month on taxes, food, your car loan, insurance, and so on.

The last step is to calculate your monthly net income. To do this, subtract total expenses from total income for each month. If the resulting number is negative, it means that you’re spending more money than you have coming in.

Knowing where you stand can help you get to where you want to be.

5. A Balance Sheet. A balance sheet is a snapshot of what you have and what you owe. Begin by determining your assets. Here are some examples:

  • How much cash you have on hand.
  • How much you have in any checking accounts.
  • How much you have in any savings accounts.
  • How much you have in bonds, mutual funds, stocks, and other investments.
  • How much you have in any pension plans.
  • How much you have in real estate.
  • How much your personal property is worth (resale value).

Once you’ve totaled up your assets, determine your liabilities. Here are some examples:

  • How much credit card debt you have.
  • How much your loan debt is.
  • How much your mortgage debt is.

Total up your liabilities. The last step is to subtract your liabilities from your assets, and that gives you your net worth.

6. Your Credit Report. Your credit report contains information your current creditors and potential future lenders review to make decisions about your creditworthiness. You should get copies of your credit report yearly to make sure that the information it contains is correct, and to take steps to fix your credit in case you’ve gone off track.

7. A Retirement Plan. A retirement plan is a savings and investment plan that provides income for when you retire. When do you plan to retire? How much money will you need for your retirement? Where will that money come from? All of these questions should be answered in your retirement plan.

8. A Bucket List. A bucket list is a list of things you want to do in life, or a list of life goals, dreams, and wishes. Your bucket list should include goals for every life area, including travel, adventures, finances, relationships, contributions, spirituality, hobbies, education, and so on. Of course, in addition to creating a bucket list you should create a plan for achieving it.

9. A Living Will.  A living will expresses your preferences about medical treatment in case you’re unable to communicate with your doctors or family. For example, you can decide that you don’t want extraordinary means to be taken in order to keep you alive, or that you want your life prolonged by any means necessary.

10. A Health Care Proxy. A health care proxy gives someone else the power to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

11. A Will. A last will and testament is a legal document that dictates what happens to your estate once you pass away. Having one ensures that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes when you die. You should get this done as soon as possible since the reality is that you never know when you’re going to need it.

12. A Letter of Instruction. A letter of instruction indicates where important documents are kept, such as insurance policies, saving accounts, loans, leases, and any other significant information. You should keep it next to your will.

13. A Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney gives someone of your choosing the power to make legal and financial decisions for you should you be unable to act on your own behalf.

14. A Funeral Directive. A funeral directive details your wishes for your final arrangements. The purpose of this document is to make sure that your end-of-life decisions are followed. Some of the things which should be included in your funeral directive are the following:

  • Whether you want to be buried or cremated;
  • The type of casket that you want;
  • Were you want to be interred;
  • Who you want your pallbearers to be;
  • Some of the things that you want to be included in your eulogy; and so on.

15. An Ethical Will. An ethical will is also known as a legacy letter. It’s a way to share your values, the life lessons you’ve learned, as well as the hopes and wishes that you have for those you love. It can also be used to pass down family history to the next generations.

Conclusion

Start preparing the documents listed above as soon as possible. Some will help you to live a better life, and others will help you to leave your affairs in order should you die. Be prepared for both life and death.

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a life that rocks (2)We all want to have a life that rocks. Not a good life,  but a great life. A life that we’ve designed ourselves and a life that we love.

Below you’ll find 16 ways to create a life that rocks:

 

1. Plan One Big Adventure a Year. Your adventure can be skydiving,  scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, or even hiking a Colorado fourteener. In addition, travel itself can be an adventure.  Make a a list of the top 20 world landmarks you want to see during your lifetime–the Eiffel Tower, the Wall of China, Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and so on–, and check one off a year.

2. Plan One Microadventure a Week. A microadventure captures all the goodness of an adventure–the thrill, the escapism, the stretching of your comfort zone–, but they’re cheaper and require a much smaller commitment of time and energy. A microadventure can be any of the following:

  • Visiting a museum you’ve never been to before during your lunch hour.
  • Trying an activity you’ve never experienced before during the weekend, such as going antiquing or learning to paddleboard.
  • Trying the new restaurant with the fusion cuisine.

3. Build a Tribe. We all want to be part of a group, and to feel loved and accepted by others. As I wrote in a guest post I contributed to the blog “Marc and Angel Hack Life”, “A tribe-or a pack, clan, elected family, posse, crew, network, or true friends–is a group of people who share common interests and values and show genuine appreciation and care for each other.”

Your tribe should do all of the following for you: give you a sense of community; encourage you to go after your dreams and achieve your goals; give you a helping hand when you need one; and be there to celebrate your wins. Of course, you also have to do the same for them.

4. Get Fit. You don’t need to have rock-hard abs or be able to run a marathon, but you do need to work toward achieving a weight and BMI–or body fat percentage–that’s considered healthy for your gender and age. Other things to focus on are cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility or range of motion, and muscular endurance. Think health and having the ability to participate in a wider range of physical activities.

5. Play a Sport. Even if you didn’t play a sport in high school or college, you can still pick a sport and learn to play it well enough. Join the company softball team, enlist a friend and start playing tennis once a week, or join your local cycling group. For those who hate to sweat, there’s always golf and bowling. Playing sports helps you to stay fit, and it fosters camaraderie and friendly competition.

6. Develop a Healthy Relationship With Money. Learn how to channel wealth through your work. Then, notice how, when, where, and why you spend your money. In addition, begin to care for your money and find ways to make it grow. Although money itself can’t get you a life that rocks, financial stress is one of the major deterrents to having a great life.

7. Have a Hobby.  Two of our most basic human needs are our need for leisure and our need to create. Whether it’s playing Dungeons and Dragons, knitting, or learning calligraphy, a hobby can help to satisfy both of these needs. Having a hobby can do all of the following:

  • It helps to clear your mind.
  • It can help you to enter the state of flow–when you’re completely involved in what you’re doing and the rest of the world just falls away.
  • Having a hobby can even open your mind to new possibilities. Many people report that they have “Aha!” moments when they take a break from their work and go do something else.

8. Turn Your Living Space Into the Perfect Space. In order to live a life that rocks you have to love the place where you live, and where you probably spend a lot of time. Customize your home to your needs and wants. Walk through each room of your house and ask yourself the following

  • What activities do I want to carry out in this room?
  • What mood do I want this room to convey?
  • What do I need to take out of this room (a large, obtrusive piece of furniture;  a painting that reminds you of a relationship that ended badly; a rug that no longer reflects who you are) ?
  • What do I need to add to this room (more light; plants; a comfortable chair)?

Then, set out to make it happen.

9. Leverage Your Strengths. Clarify what your strengths are–the things that you enjoy doing and are naturally good at–and find a way to apply those strengths to your work and to your daily life. Do the following:

  • Spend most of your time on your strengths.
  • Delegate those things that are not your strengths.
  • Use your strengths to overcome obstacles.
  • Come up with new ways to capitalize on your strengths.
  • Apply your strengths in order to help you achieve your goals.

10. Make Music a Part of Your Life. Music can be a refuge, a way to express yourself, a tool for getting through bad times, or a way to express joy. You don’t need to be a musician to make music an integral part of your life. Sing, take a music appreciation course, take a tap dancing class, or simply dance Gangnam style.

11. Follow Your Bliss. There is no better way to have a life that rocks than to be engaged in an activity that you enjoy and to do work that you’re passionate about. If your current situation is such that you cannot be engaged in the work which you like best, decide what it is that you want to be doing and constantly be on the look out for ways in which you can begin to be engaged in that line of work.

12. Learn to Find More Pleasure in Food and Eating. We spend a lot of our time eating, so it’s a good idea to look for ways to increase the pleasure we get from food. The best way to find more pleasure in food is to learn to cook.  While everyone loves to eat, not everyone loves preparing food. However, cooking is a great prelude to eating.

Stocking your kitchen with things you really like, chopping vegetables with a sharp knife, taking in the aroma of onions and garlic being sauteed, and inspecting a perfect cut of meat are all part of the sensuality of cooking. Cooking the food that you eat gives you a sense of satisfaction that you could never get by eating out.

In addition, own at least two pieces of cooking equipment that you really enjoy, whether it’s a fantastic stove or a cherry-red food processor.

13.  Have a Daily Spiritual or Self-Reflection Practice. Having a spiritual practice can mean a wide range of things, from being a Benedictine oblate–a lay person living in the secular world who lives his or her life in accordance with the rules of the Benedictine Order–, to meditating every morning. Basically, having a spiritual practice means finding a way to connect to something larger than yourself.

In addition, you can simply practice self-reflection daily, by writing in a journal or taking some time to sit quietly and focus within.

14. Do for Others. Whether you volunteer at a food kitchen once a week, help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, or make Kiva loans to low income entrepreneurs in developing countries, to have a life that rocks you need to give back to your community or to the world at large. We all want to feel that our lives have meaning and that what we do matters, and there’s no better way to achieve this than by helping other people.

15. Become a Better Version of Yourself Each Day. Make incremental improvements and get a little bit better each day. Every day you can be just a little bit more confident, a little bit more courageous, a little bit more organized, a little bit more patient, and so on. Could you be one tenth of one percent (.1%) better each day? That’s such a small change that anyone can do it.

Gradually, over time, that .1% adds up, so if you keep it, up five years from now you’ll be an entirely different person. That is, you’ll be a much better version of  yourself. And as you get better, your life gets better.

16. Commit to Continuing Education. According to Thomas Jefferson, knowledge is power, knowledge is safety, and knowledge is happiness. The more you know, the more empowered you are, and the larger your world becomes. With open source learning you can now learn anything you want, from the comfort of your home, for free. Rock your world by constantly learning new things.

Conclusion

This is the only life that you have, so make it great. Use the 16 ways explained above to create a life that rocks.

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conflict resolution (2)Conflict is a natural and inevitable part of life–your co-worker takes credit for your work; your spouse is habitually late;  your neighbor’s dog keeps doing his business in your yard; and so on.

The good news is that conflict doesn’t have to lead to fighting and to broken relationships. There are ways of dealing with conflict constructively in order to resolve arguments and disputes amicably, instead of allowing the situation to get out of hand. Conflict resolution is an important skill for everyone to develop.

I worked for several years as a labor attorney at the Panama Canal, and one of my main duties was negotiating with the labor unions on behalf of the administration of the canal. In addition, I have a graduate degree in mediation. Below you’ll find some of the things I’ve learned about resolving conflicts constructively.

Sit Down to Discuss the Issue and Establish Ground Rules

Ground RulesIn many instances, the problem is not so much the nature of the dispute itself; instead, the problem is the way in which the dispute is handled. When you sit down with someone in an attempt to resolve a disagreement, you should start out by establishing ground rules.

The purpose of establishing ground rules is to create a space of tolerance and respect in which you can both iron out your differences. Ground rules can include things such as the following:

  • Each side will take turns speaking, and each one will get an equal amount of time to speak.
  • When one person is talking, the other person can’t interrupt them. If one person hears something that they want to respond to and it’s not their turn to speak, they should write it down and wait until it’s their turn to say it.
  • Just try to resolve the issue at hand. If there are other issues that need to be discussed, set a later time to talk about them. Resist the urge to bring up every grievance that you have with the other person in one sitting.
  • Refrain from using phrases such as “You always”, or “You never”. People rarely “always” do something or “never” do something, and phrases like these just put the other person on the defensive.
  • Try not to blame the other person, speak for the other person, or speculate about their motives. Accept that you are not a mind reader and you do not know the other person’s intent.
  • Both sides should seek to maintain emotional control.
  • Treat each other with respect–don’t blame, attack, or engage in put-downs.

In addition to establishing ground rules, keep the following three things in mind:

  • Each side should strive to take responsibility for their contribution to the conflict. When you’re arguing with someone it’s tempting to think that the other person is completely at fault. However, it’s important that you examine how your actions have contributed to the problem.
  • Constantly strive to look for areas of agreement and common ground.
  • Both sides need to understand that resolving conflict is not about figuring out who’s right or assigning blame. Rather, it’s about moving forward and learning a new way to deal with each other in the future.

 Focus on Interests, Not Positions

focus on interestsDuring any conversation in which you’re trying to resolve a disagreement, the aim should be to identify each side’s interests. In other words, instead of focusing on positions-where each side takes a firm stance as to exactly what it is that they’ve decided they want–each side should express the needs, concerns, desires, fears, and aspirations that underlie their position.

A simple example that is often used to illustrate the difference between arguing over positions and communicating interests is the story of the orange. The story goes as follows:

  • Two brothers are fighting over an orange.
  • Each one argues why he deserves to keep the orange. The first brother yells that he’s the eldest and should be one to keep the orange. The other brother answers that he got to the orange first, and therefore he should be the one to keep it.
  • The father walks in on the argument. He takes the orange and cuts it in half. He then proceeds to give half the orange to each of his sons.
  • Both brothers are upset because neither got what he wanted. This is what usually happens when people argue over positions.

It turns out that the first brother wanted to make orange juice. That is, all he needed was the pulp of the orange. The other brother was preparing a recipe that required the skin of the orange.  Instead of arguing back and forth over their positions, each brother should have explained why he needed the orange. That is, each one should have clearly explained his interests to the other.

If they had communicated their interests to one another, both would have gotten what they wanted:

  • The first brother would have gotten all of the pulp so that he could squeeze a glass of orange juice for himself.
  • The other brother would have gotten all of the orange’s skin and he would have been able to make his recipe.

By explaining their interests instead of arguing over their positions, both brothers would have left satisfied.

Develop the Skill of Active Listening

active listening (2)In the words of Stephen Covey: “If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: seek first to understand, then to be understood. This principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication.”

In order to understand what another person is trying to tell you, you need to develop the skill of active listening. Active listening involves the following:

  • When it’s the other person’s turn to speak make sure that you remain focused on what they’re saying. Don’t let your attention wander, and refrain from rehearsing in your head what you’re going to say next.
  • Observe the other person’s body language and pay attention to their tone of voice.
  • Use paraphrasing to make sure that you understand what the other person is saying. Paraphrasing basically means that when the other person is finished talking you repeat in your own words what you heard them say. Since you’re repeating what you think you heard the other person say, the speaker can correct anything that you didn’t understand.
  • Encourage the other person to elaborate on what they’re saying and to get everything they’re feeling off their chest. If something is not clear to you, ask for clarifying information.

When you use active listening you establish rapport with the other person. In addition, by showing the other person that you value what they have to say, and that you’re making a sincere effort to understand their point of view, you create trust.

Practice Empathy

empathyMahatma Gandhi–the leader of India’s movement for independence from Great Britain–, once said the following: “[W]hat may appear as the truth to one person will often appear as untruth to another person. But that need not worry the seeker. Where there is honest effort, it will be realized that what appeared to be different truths are like the countless and apparently different leaves of the same tree.” — Ghandi

An important aspect of constructive conflict resolution is to try to see the world from the perspective of the other person. Put yourself in their shoes. Be curious about the other person and about the thinking process that they followed to reach their conclusions.

We all see the world differently based on our personal filters, our background, our experiences, and our belief system. Seek to understand how the other person sees the world, their motivations, and their aspirations.

Express Yourself Clearly

In resolving a disagreement with another person it’s important not only that you listen to the other person and try to understand where they’re coming from, but that you also express how you feel and let the other person know what you really want. Tell them what you’re experiencing, what your desires are, what’s important to you, and how you feel.

When you share what you’re experiencing with another person, it makes it easier for them to understand where you’re coming from. In addition, people can’t give you what you want if you don’t tell them clearly what it is.

Look for a Solution to the Conflict that is Favorable to Both Sides

favorable solutionOnce you’ve identified each side’s interests you can come up with creative ways to satisfy them. In coming up with a solution for the conflict, focus on the following:

  • You’re trying to create a win-win situation.
  •  Stop looking for a single best answer– come up with as many solutions and alternatives as possible.
  • Look for ways to expand the pie. That is, instead of concentrating on how to split up a limited resource, look for additional ways to create value.

Here’s an example of how to expand the pie: suppose that Anne asks her boss for a $500.00 raise. Her boss answers that he won’t be able to justify such a large raise to the Board of Directors, but that he can offer her a $100.00 raise. Instead of haggling back and forth over the size of the pay raise, Anne’s boss can expand the pie by offering Anne additional perks, such as the following:

  • Having the company car pick her up each morning and take her back home each afternoon;
  • Giving her free access to the company gym used by the high-level executives;
  • Allowing her to work from home one day a week; and so on.

The goal in resolving conflict is for each party to walk away feeling understood and that an effective plan has been agreed upon for resolving the argument or dispute and for moving forward. Here are the last three things to keep in mind:

  • Both parties should have a clear understanding of exactly what the agreement is.
  • Both parties should commit themselves to upholding their side of the bargain.
  • Try to think of ways to make sure that the same problem, and others like it, won’t arise again in the future.

Conclusion

Resolving conflicts effectively is a vital skill to have. Having strong, healthy relationships with the people you interact with on a regular basis is important for living your best life. Use the tips above and become a master of the art of conflict resolution.

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things making you dumberIn today’s knowledge economy your ability to think clearly and rationally is vitally important.

You need to be able to analyze data and make quick decisions, be able to spot faulty arguments, and make good judgment calls. However, there are choices that many of us make on a regular basis that are interfering with our ability to do our best thinking. That is, there are things that we do—or fail to do—that are making us stupid.

Below you’ll discover 9 things that are making you dumber.

smart guy1. Thinking That You’re Smart Can Be Making You Stupid. Research conducted by Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck indicates that praising people for their intelligence rather than their effort can make people perform poorly over time. To sum up her findings, there are two types of mindset:

  •  A Fixed Mindset
  • A Growth Mindset

People with a fixed mindset think that a person’s abilities—how smart and how talented they are—are set at birth. If a person with a fixed mindset fails at something they take it as an affront to their intellectual capacity. They feel threatened by failure—since it conflicts with their identity as “one of the smartest people in the room”—so they avoid situations in which they might fail.

On the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe that effort is what makes them smarter. If a person with a growth mindset fails at something, they chalk it up to insufficient effort and resolve to work harder.

In other words, the best mindset to have is the following; it’s not necessarily about how smart I am, but about how hard I try.

eggs2. Not Getting Enough Vitamins. Not getting enough vitamins can also be making you dumber. One example is not getting enough vitamin B12. People get vitamin B12 from meat, eggs, poultry, dairy products, and other animal foods. If you’re not getting enough of these foods, or if your body can’t absorb vitamin B12 properly, you’ll have difficulty thinking and reasoning, and suffer from memory loss.

cinnamon rolls3. Having Cinnamon Rolls for Breakfast. How can a warm, gooey cinnamon roll interfere with your thinking skills? Sugar makes you stupid. Studies show that sugar hampers memory and slows down brain activity.

In an experiment on rats, one group had a sugary diet for six weeks and another group was fed healthily. At the beginning of the study the rats were tested on how well they navigated a maze. Six weeks later the researchers tested the rats’ ability to recall the route. The rats fed just a sugary diet were slower and the researchers found that their brains had declined.

iPhone4. Over Relying On Your iPhone. Although technology has improved our lives in many respects—open education being just one of them–smart technology can make you dumb. Two examples of how technology is making you stupid are using calculators to do math, and using search engines to retrieve information instead of storing the information in your head.

If you have to solve a math problem, what do you do? It’s very likely that you pull out your iPhone, locate your math app, and have it do the calculations for you. However, cognitive scientists have identified something called the “generation effect” — it’s the fact that we understand and remember answers that we generate ourselves better than those that are provided to us.

Therefore, the next time you need to do math, try solving the problem yourself. Then, use your iPhone to check the answer.

In addition, psychologist Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University explains that when people expect to have easy future access to information—that is, they know that all they have to do is “Google it”–they have lower rates of recall of the information.

At the same time, cognitive science research shows that skills like critical thinking and problem-solving can be developed only in the context of factual knowledge. That is, you have to have the knowledge stored in your head, instead of simply knowing how to search for it.

multitasking5. Checking Your Email, While Working on a Report, While Talking on the Phone. You already know this one: multitasking makes you stupid. But do you know just how stupid? Multitasking makes your IQ fall by 10 points, more than double the 4-point fall seen after smoking marijuana.

This means that your mental sharpness is severely hampered when you’re constantly interrupting your work in order to check your email, or when you jump from task to task instead of giving your undivided attention to the task at hand.

6. Watching Television. If you’re constantly choosing to watch television when you get home from work instead of sitting down to read a book, you’re dumbing yourself down. The reason for this is the following: you’re probably spending most of your day searching and surfing the internet. This keeps you in a state of perpetual mental locomotion, which scatters your thinking.

Reading a book, on the other hand, teaches you to focus your attention. The control and mental discipline that is acquired by reading a long sequence of pages is necessary for richness of thought. When we don’t have that mental control, our higher-order cognitive processes are weakened. This includes abstract vocabulary, reflection, inductive problem solving, critical thinking, and imagination.

The bottom line is, before going to bed pick up the book by your nightstand, instead of reaching for the remote control. To put it another way, instead of watching “The Vampire Diaries”, read “The Vampire Chronicles”.

sleeping (3)7. Staying Up Late. Not getting enough sleep makes you dumb because it makes it harder to learn. Jane E. Brody explains that in order to learn you need to pay attention, and then your brain needs to encode the information. First, not getting enough sleep impairs attention. Second, new memories and pathways are encoded in the brain during sleep, and adequate sleep is needed for those pathways to work as they should.

When you’re tempted to play one more video game, or write one more paragraph, before going to bed, choose to turn out the light and go to sleep instead.

yoga class8. Not Showing Up For Yoga Class. When you’re stressed, the kidneys secret the hormone cortisol, and cortisol negatively affects brain function. Specifically, cortisol can prevent memories from forming and it can even kill neurons.

The hippocampus region of the brain—which is where long term memories are stored—suffers the most from cortisol exposure. In fact, the hippocampus has been known to shrink under extended periods of acute stress.

Therefore, for the good of your IQ , join a yoga class, learn to meditate, join the people doing Tai Chi in the park, or find some other effective way to relieve stress.

junk food9. Eating junk Food. What happens if you eat lots of junk food? You gain weight. And how does gaining weight make you dumb? For every excess pound you gain, your brain gets smaller. When comparing the brain tissue of normal weight individuals with those who are obese and overweight, researchers found the following:

  •  Clinically obese people have 8 percent less brain tissue than normal weight individuals.
  • Overweight people have 4 percent less brain tissue than normal weight individuals.

I know I’m going to think about that the next time I’m tempted to stop at KFC.

Conclusion

In order to live your best life you need your brain working optimally. Look at the 9 ways explained above in which you’re dumbing yourself down and make sure that you stop making yourself stupid.

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100 days leftThere are 100 days left of 2014. How are you doing on your goals for this year?

Did you fall off the wagon in February, or are you well on your way toward achieving your 2014 resolutions? If you’re in the first group, don’t despair. You can put the last 100 days of 2014 to good use.

Here are 15 ways to salvage your 2014 resolutions in the next 100 days:

declutter1. Everyone wants to start the year with a clean slate, which often means getting the house in order. The first step you need to take in order to achieve an organized home is to declutter. So, if you failed to declutter at the start of the year, do it now. Every day for the next 100 days, get rid of one item in your home which you no longer find beautiful or useful.

 

light bulb2. There were probably several do-it-yourself projects that needed to get done around the house in your list of goals for 2014. How many did you get to? Never mind. Walk around your home and identify 100 things that need to be fixed or replaced.

Resolve to fix one-a-day for the next 100 days. Here are three examples: change a burnt out light bulb; get a new shower curtain; and tighten the screws on the kitchen cabinet door.

musicians3.Volunteering to help others is something else that people often include in their New Year’s resolutions. It’s not too late to get to work on helping others this year. Resolve to do 100 random acts of kindness in the next 100 days. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Here are some ideas:

  • Carry your elderly neighbor’s groceries into the house for her.
  • Take the time to stop and give directions to a tourist who looks lost.
  • Give all of your spare change to the street musician singing his or her heart out in front of the Starbucks.

crisp autumn4. Did “enjoy life more” make it into your list of goals for this year? If so, you may not have done so well during the first nine months of the year, but you can resolve to do much better in the last three.   Make a list of Fall and Winter activities that make you happy, and do one each day for the next 100 days. Again, the trick is to keep things small.

Here are three ideas for Fall:

  • Go for a walk and take in the clean, crisp autumn air.
  • Bake cookies shaped like autumn leaves.
  • Get a big bag of fresh candy corn and eat a handful each day of October (you can cheat and take two handfuls; I know I will).

Here are three ideas for Winter:

  • Make eggnog using your grandmother’s secret recipe.
  • Go ice skating.
  • Build a snowman.

funny bucket list5. Did you barely make a dent on your bucket list this year? If you didn’t start training in January, you probably won’t be running a marathon this year. In addition, if you didn’t start planning for a trip to Paris, France early in the year, in all likelihood 2014 won’t be the year you finally get to see the Eiffel Tower. However, you still have time to cross some items off of your bucket list.

There are plenty of goals which can be accomplished in 100 days. Take out your bucket list, look through it, and pick one item which you can realistically cross off before the end of the year. Then, get to work on it!

Ray Bradbury6. Has “write a novel” been on your list of New Year’s resolutions for the past ten years? Well, if you want to be a writer, the first step you need to take is to read a lot. The famous author Ray Bradbury—who wrote some 500 short stories, novels, plays and poems–, handed down lots of great advice for would-be writers. One of the things he recommended was to read short stories.

Make a list of 100 short stories you can read in 15 minutes or less and read one a day for the next 100 days. You can start with “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” by J.D. Salinger; it’s the first of his short stories to feature the fictional Glass family.

NaNoWriMo7. Of course, if you want to be a writer the other side of the coin is that you have to write. And, you’re in luck! November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Join all the other procrastinators who left their “write a novel” goal until the end of the year and write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

Do the following:

  • Use the remaining days of September to choose a genre.
  • Use October to plot your novel.
  • Use November to write your novel.
  • Use December to edit your novel.

And, voila! By the end of 2014 you’ll have a manuscript of your very first novel sitting in front of you. Yes, you can!

Bristish Museum8. A lot of people want to improve their education. If this is one of the items that made it into your list of things to do in 2014, there’s good news: you can learn world history in 100 days, by devoting just fifteen minutes a day.

How? The BBC offers a series of 15-minute podcasts titled A History of the World in 100 Objects. You’ll be exploring the history of the world from two million years ago to the present through 100 objects in the British Museum collection.

TED Talk9. Another great way to improve your education in the next 100 days is by selecting 100 TED Talks–TED Talks are a set of global conferences covering diverse subjects, from “The Magic of the Amazon”, to “How Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”. Each TED Talk is about eighteen minutes long, so you can watch one a day while you have lunch. You can get started with these twenty (hand-picked by me).

War and Peace10. Is “reading the classics” on your goals list for 2014? If you haven’t gotten around to it, you’re in good company. Mark Twain once said, “A classic is something everyone wants to have read, but no one wants to read.” Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” is perhaps the greatest classic of all. However, at around 1,300 pages, it’s also one of the most daunting.

The small steps approach works well here: if you divide 1,300 by 100, you get 13. Anyone get read 13 pages a day. Use the last 100 days of 2014 to move “War and Peace” from the “want to read” pile, to the “read” pile.

rejection11. In the area of personal development, a lot of people want to learn to deal with rejection. After all, you can’t get very far in life without putting yourself out there, which means opening yourself up to being rejected. And most people fear rejection.

Jia Jiang came up with the following solution: the  fear-busting therapy. It consists of making 100 crazy requests–one a day for 100 days–in order to get rejected. The idea is that if you get rejected over and over again, you become desensitized to the pain of rejection and you stop fearing it. You’ll be starting 2015 fully inoculated against rejection.

happiness challenge12. People seldom write “I want to be happier” as one of their goals. However, at the end of the day what we’re all chasing is happiness. Increase your happiness in the last 100 days of 2014 by taking the 100 Happy Days Challenge.

It’s a social media experiment that asks people to stop once a day and take a picture of something that makes them happy and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #100happydays.

13. Reducing your levels of stress was probably on your list of 2014 resolutions. And, in all likelihood, your stress levels rose in 2014 instead of dropping. Once again, it’s not too late to take action before you’re watching the ball drop in Times Square on the 31st.

The big daddy of stress reduction is yoga. You can easily get started with yoga– in the comfort of your own home– simply by learning Sun Salutation. Sun Salutation is a series of yoga poses performed in a continuous flowing sequence, which is usually done first thing in the morning. The poses aren’t complicated, and it doesn’t take long to complete a few rounds.

Do three rounds of Sun Salutation every day from now until the end of the year, and feel your stress melt away.

lose weight (2)14. Very few people don’t include “lose weight” on their list of New Year’s resolutions. If the needle on the bathroom scale hasn’t budged all year, don’t despair: you still have time to lose 15 pounds by the end of the year.

Losing a pound of fat requires burning 3500 calories.  If you create a 500 calorie daily deficit from here until December 31st, you’ll be ringing in the New Year with a svelte, trim figure. Just reduce your daily calorie intake by 250 calories by making simple food switches, and burn an additional 250 calories a day by going for a brisk 30-minute walk.

promotion15. Is “get a better job” on your list of goals for this year? If so, you can put the last 100 days of the year to good use by developing a skill that will make you more attractive to potential employers.

Pick a skill that would look great on your resume and set aside one hour a day, every day for the next 100 days of the year, in order to learn that skill. There are very few skills that can’t be learned in 100 hours.

Conclusion

There’s still time to make 2014 a great year! Use the 15 suggestions above to salvage your 2014 New Year’s resolutions using the 100 days that you have left of 2014.

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