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keep your relationship strongIt’s February 14th: Valentine’s Day.

In recognition of this day which celebrates love and friendship, here are 18 ways to keep your relationship with your significant other strong.

1. Practice acceptance and appreciation. In his book, “How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving”, David Richo explains that two of the keys to mindful loving are acceptance and appreciation. Here’s a quote from Richo that expresses this idea:

“In a true you-and-I relationship, we are present mindfully, non-intrusively, the way we are present with things in nature. We do not tell a birch tree it should be more like an elm. We face it with no agenda, only appreciation . . .”

2. Recognize that all relationships have their ups and downs. Just as you can’t expect to be happy all the time, you shouldn’t expect your relationship to be at a continuous high.  When you make a long-term commitment to someone you have to be willing to ride the highs, as well as the lows, together.

3. Use the word “we”Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., explains that researcher Robert Levenson and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, found that couples who use the word “we” when talking are happier, calmer, and in general are more satisfied with their relationships than couples whose communication is more populated by the pronouns “you”, “me” and “I”.

Dr. Chansky explains that the word “we” is a game changer. It sets off a program of connectedness in the brain so that instead of being in a “you vs. me” mindset, we’re in a collaborative mindset. This collaborative mindset makes us more loving and generous.

4. Follow the three-day gratitude plan. Rita Watson–an Associate Fellow at Yale’s Ezra Stiles College—explains that having an attitude of gratitude will revitalize your love life. Watson indicates that a study involving 77 married heterosexual and monogamous couples found that with expressed gratitude “participants reported that they felt more loving.” She goes on as follows:

“They also reported feeling more peaceful, amused, and proud. They perceived their partner as being more understanding, validating, caring, and generally more responsive. They were more likely to have reported spontaneously thanking their partner for something they’d appreciated on any given day. And they were more satisfied with the quality of their relationship overall.”

In order to get started with bringing more gratitude into your relationship she recommends the following three-day gratitude plan:

  • Day 1: Find three qualities that you love about your partner and focus on those three qualities for the entire day.
  • Day 2: Identify three things that irritate you about your partner. Now forgive them for these things.
  • Day 3: For the entire day speak only kind words to your significant other.

Think of the three day plan as a cleansing which allows you to clear out feelings that keep your relationship from thriving.

5. Keep the 3:1 ratio. Over the course of a day we have a variety of positive and negative experiences. This is also true when it comes to our relationship with our significant other. Most people think that as long as the positive experiences outweigh the negative, everything is fine. However, this isn’t so. It’s the ratio of positive to negative that matters.

Research has shown that the magical ratio for a flourishing relationship is at or above 3:1. That is, you need to have three times more positive experiences with your partner than negative experiences in order to have a healthy relationship.

6. Keep the novelty alive. One of the positive aspects of being in a relationship with someone for a long time is that you really get to know each other. The negative side of this is that the novelty wears off, and humans love novelty.

However, there’s a way to keep the novelty alive: constantly try new activities together. This creates the excitement and the uncertainty that comes from the unknown, even if you’re with someone whom you know as well as the back of your hand.

7. Keep the playfulness alive. We all love to play, regardless of our age. Do the following: have fun together; do something ridiculous together; and just let go. In addition, the next time that your partner says something that bothers you, try responding with a joke instead of getting defensive.

8. Give your partner space. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer used porcupines to explain a dilemma which often exists in human relationships. Two porcupines trying to keep warm will move closer to one another. However, if they get too close they prick each other with their spines.

The same thing happens in human relationships: we want closeness, but we also want space. The key is to find that sweet spot at which we feel the warmth that comes from being in a relationship, while at the same time allowing each partner to have enough space so that neither one feels like they’re being pricked by the other’s spines (feelings of lost individuality, feeling crowded, and so on).

9. Show each other daily physical affection. Kory Floyd, Ph.D.–a professor at Hugh Downs School of Communication at Arizona State University—explains that studies show that physical affection has a myriad of benefits. It releases feel-good hormones, it reduces blood pressure, it helps to release stress, it improves mood, and it’s associated with higher relationship satisfaction.

Showing physical affection can be as easy as kissing, holding hands, hugging, giving a back scratch, or putting a hand around the other person’s shoulder.

10. Use AAA. Mira Kirshenbaum, psychotherapist and author of “The Weekend Marriage” explains that when your significant other is upset over something you’ve done, you should apply the AAA approach. This stands for apology, affection, and a promise of action. To elaborate:

  • Tell your partner that you’re sorry that you’ve hurt or disappointment them.
  • Offer a meaningful gesture of warmth, such as a hug or a kiss.
  • Pledge to take action that is meaningful to them.

11. Focus on the positive. Dr. Terri Orbuch has been conducting a long-term study since 1986 on what makes couples happy and strengthens relationships. She advises that couples resolve to focus on the positive. She explains that happy couples focus on what is going well in their relationship, rather than focusing on what is going wrong.

In addition, if you do need to call attention to a negative aspect, try to do it in a positive way. For example, if your partner is messy try telling them something like the following: “It makes me so happy to come home to a clean house. When things are messy I feel stressed. Let’s come up with a solution together.”

12. Create couples rituals. Sarì Harrar and Rita DeMaria are the authors of the book “ The 7 Stages of Marriage”. They recommend that you strengthen your relationship by creating rituals just for the two of you. For example, every Saturday night can be date night. Another example can be having your coffee together every morning, or taking ten minutes to chat every night before going to bed.

13. Edit yourself. Dr. John Gottman is a researcher, author and Ph.D. psychologist known for his work on relationship stability. He’s best known for his book, “The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work”. Dr. Gottman explains that couples who avoid saying every critical thought that pops into their head when discussing touchy topics are consistently the happiest.

14. Be supportive. There are many ways to be supportive of your partner, including the following:

  • Give emotional support: listen to them when they’re upset and need to talk.
  • Give compliments and praise.
  • Give them information that they might need.
  • Give them a hand when they need it. For example, doing their house chores when they have to put in extra hours at work.

15. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Brené Brown, author of “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead”, explains that vulnerability holds the key to emotional intimacy. She adds that vulnerability is about being honest with how we feel, about our fears, about what we need, and asking for what we need. It’s allowing ourselves to be truly seen by our partner, warts and all.

16. Say “I love you” with your actions. Perform little acts of kindness for your partner that let them know you love them. Some ideas include the following:

  • Warm her car on a cold morning.
  • Bring home take-out from his favorite Chinese restaurant.
  • Get up fifteen minutes before she does so that breakfast is ready when she walks into the kitchen.
  • When you’re out shopping get him a little surprise gift.

17. Fight fair. It’s not disagreements that destroy relationships, but how you deal with them. Dr. Phil—of Oprah fame—says the following about fighting fair:

“Disagreements are going to occur. The question is, do you go into it with a spirit of looking for resolution or do you go into it with a spirit of getting even, vengeance, control? You’ll never win if you do that. If you make your relationship a competition, that means your spouse has to lose in order for you to win. It’s not a competition;  it’s a partnership.”

Some of the tips he offers for fighting fair are the following:

  • Know what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Put boundaries around the discussion so that you don’t end up arguing about every negative thing that has ever happened in your relationship.
  • Avoid character assassination.
  • Practice active listening. Try paraphrasing to make sure that you understood what the other person said and ask for clarification if there’s something that you’re not clear about.
  • Set a time limit.
  • Be willing to compromise.
  • Reach an agreement on how you’re going to solve the issue.

18. Set goals as a couple. Be a team of two that’s striving to achieve a set of goals that you’ve set together and that are important to both of you. By setting goals together you’ll be achieving all of the following:

  • You’ll make sure that you’re both moving in the same direction.
  • Your wins are their wins.
  • You can celebrate together each time you achieve a milestone.

Studies have shown that one of the most important components of happiness is striving to achieve goals that you consider to be meaningful. In turn, one of the components of a happy relationship is having a set of goals that you’re trying to achieve together.


Strong relationships don’t just happen. In order to have a flourishing relationship with your significant other you have to do the work. Use the 18 tips above to begin strengthening your relationship right away. After all, a healthy relationship is an important component for living a great life.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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energy boostEnergy is your capacity to do work. The more energy you have, the more productive you can be.

Therefore, a great way to increase your productivity is by building the reservoir of energy that you have available to you.  If you put more fuel in your tank by applying strategies for boosting your energy, you’ll be able to get more done.

In this post you’ll discover 20 easy ways to boost and replenish your energy.

1. Increase your magnesium intake. New York University nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, explains that magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including breaking down glucose into energy. The recommended daily intake of magnesium is around 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men.

In order to make sure that you’re getting enough magnesium, Heller recommends that you do the following:

  • Add a handful of almonds, hazelnuts or cashews to your daily diet.
  • Increase your intake of whole grains, particularly bran cereal.
  • Eat more fish, especially halibut.

berries and oatmeal2.  Eat a healthy breakfast. Studies show that those who eat a healthy breakfast each morning have more energy and stay in a better mood throughout the day than their breakfast-skipping counterparts.

Aim for an energy-balancing mix of high-quality carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats.  Two examples of a healthy breakfast are oatmeal with a serving of almonds, and a hard-boiled egg with a side of berries.

mountain pose3. Get active rest. In “The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough. A 30-Day Plan to Reset Your Body”, Dr. Matthew Edlund explains that rest is a major pathway to renewal, which is a basic human necessity.  Dr. Edlund makes a difference between passive rest—when your body is still, such as when you sleep or you’re vegging out in front of the TV–, and active rest. Active rest is conscious, directed, and entirely under your control.

By using active rest you can revive yourself when you’re exhausted, or relax when you’re stressed, in as little as 30 to 60 seconds. Here are some examples of active rest which Dr. Edlund recommends:

  • Stand up and practice mountain pose. Do the following: align your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders along the same imaginary line, breathing in deeply and slowly; hold that pose for five long breaths..
  • Try paradoxical relaxation: concentrate on the small muscles in your face and head. Note one that is slightly more tense than the one next to it. Pay complete attention to this muscle for 30 seconds, feeling and sensing it alone; this will then get the rest of the body to relax.

Instead of just relying on the sleep that you get at night in order to get the rest that you need and recharge your batteries, try the active rest exercises suggested by Dr. Edlund and feel yourself filling up with energy.

4. Work on something that you’re passionate about. To quote Oprah Winfrey: “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

5. If you feel your energy level dropping, go for a brisk walk. Physical activity oxygenates blood cells, helping to refill your body’s fuel tank.

water6. You’ve probably heard that thirst can masquerade as hunger. But did you know that it can masquerade as fatigue as well? Make sure that you keep a water bottle with you at all times and that you take frequent drinks from it throughout the day.

As an additional tip, try drinking water as soon as you wake up each morning. Your body is dehydrated after a long night’s sleep, and drinking water will help you to wake up and will make you feel refreshed.

7. Splash some water on your face for a quick pick-me-up.

8.  Check your attitude. A negative attitude that keeps you focused on everything that isn’t going exactly as it should, and that is constantly scanning the horizon for possible problems, is a huge energy drain.

9.  Use your physiology. Sit up straight instead of slumping in your chair, and walk with purpose instead of dragging yourself around.

Laughing at Dean10.  Have a good laugh.  Laughter releases feel-good hormones into the blood stream and boosts your energy level.

11. Stress is one of the biggest energy zappers that there is. Find ways to de-stress, such as taking up Yoga, meditation, Qigong, or Tai Chi.  You can try mini-meditations if you just have three minutes to spare here and there. Here’s a mini-meditation recommended by Deepak Chopra:

  • Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Open your hands and place them palms up on your knees.
  • Breathe in deeply and say to yourself “I” as you breathe in.
  • Breath out and say to yourself “am” as you breathe out.
  • Do this for three minutes.

12.  Eat vegetables with energy-revitalizing antioxidants with your lunch and dinner. These include tomatoes, carrots, and spinach.

13. Andrew Weil, M.D., a world-renowned pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, explains that mindful breathing can be energizing. One of the breathing exercises that he recommends is called “4-7-8″. Simply place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.

Then follow these steps:

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. In addition, exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation.

smoothy14. Have a power snack. Have a snack mid-afternoon that combines protein, a little fat and some fiber. One option is to make yourself a peanut butter and banana smoothie. Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 small ripe banana, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter, creamy
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup cold milk

To prepare the smoothie, put the banana slices, the peanut butter, and the honey in a blender; blend until smooth. Then add the milk and blend until foamy. Voilá! You have a delicious and healthy snack which will help you to keep your energy level high.

15. Your thoughts can either give you energy or deplete you of energy.  Don’t wallow in emotional states that zap your energy.  These include:

  • Worry.
  • Resentment.
  • Anger.
  • Regret.
  • Feeling sorry for yourself.

16.  Listen to your favorite upbeat song.

17.  Call a friend who’s cheerful and full of energy.  Some of their positive energy will rub off on you, leaving you feeling energized and ready to tackle the world.

love coffee18. Coffee doesn’t deserve the bad rap it gets. However, stop downing giant to-go cups of coffee. Instead, drink half a mug of coffee (4 to 6 ounces) every few hours. Researchers found that shift workers, medical residents, truck drivers, and others who work odd hours got a better boost from caffeine, and performed better on cognitive tests, when they drank it in small portions .

19. Try something new. When people do something novel, the brain releases its reward chemical: dopamine. Dr. Gregory Berns, M.D., a neuroscientist at Emory University, in Atlanta, explains that studies have shown that dopamine is also a motivating chemical that gears us up to do more. That is, by doing something new you may be inspired to take on more projects.

20.  Have something to look forward to.  Working on tasks that you don’t enjoy can drain your energy.  One way to get yourself through these tasks is to have something to look forward to once you’re done.  The anticipation created by scheduling something that you enjoy at the end of the day can give you the energy that you need to get through the dull work.


Energy is the fuel of life. The more energy you have, the greater will be your ability to achieve what you want and to go after your dreams. Apply the 20 strategies set forth above for increasing your energy and be unstoppable.

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enthusiasmThe way to turn your work into play–and have the motivation to take the action necessary in order to succeed–is to mix enthusiasm with your work.

Napoleon Hill—author of “Think and Grow Rich”, as well as other success classics– once said the following:

“Enthusiasm is a state of mind that inspires and arouses one to put action into the task at hand . . . Enthusiasm bears the same relationship to a human being that steam does to the locomotive – it is the vital moving force that impels action.”

In addition, Earl Prevette––a master salesman and the author of “How to Turn Your Ability Into Cash“–argued that enthusiasm is your soul in action. Here’s a quote from his book:

“Enthusiasm is one of your greatest assets. It is better than money, power or influence–with enthusiasm you become the master of these. Combine enthusiasm with faith and initiative, and you can move mountains and achieve results unheard of.”

Whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s writing a novel, getting your start-up off the ground, getting a promotion at work, and so on, enthusiasm will give you the energy that you’ll need to keep running all the way to the finish line.

Below you’ll discover 14 ways to harness the power of enthusiasm. Apply these strategies and you’ll have so much energy, you’ll be unstoppable.

1. Follow your bliss. There is no better way to generate enthusiasm 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 focus on the fact that you’ll be engaged in that particular work at some point in the future. Even if you’re not currently standing where you would like to be, you can generate enthusiasm by facing the direction in which you want to go.

2. Think of the things that you want to attain. Here’s a quote from Hill’s “The Law of Success”:

“The home you intend to own, the money you intend to earn and place in the bank, the trip you intend to take when you can afford it, the position in life you intend to fill when you have prepared yourself, and the preparation itself—these are the things that produce happiness.”

Become enthusiastic about these things, regardless of your current station in life. Keep thinking of the time when you’ll be ready to turn these things into reality.

3. Have a plan. Creating a plan will fill you with enthusiasm to get up each day and follow through on your plan. Driving around without a map–that is, trying to achieve a goal without having a plan–can soon use up all of your motivation.

However, when you know where you want to go–see point “1″ above–and you have a map that shows you how to get there–you’ll be pressing down on the gas pedal and moving ahead at full speed.

4. Get out of victim-mode. Nothing zaps enthusiasm faster than seeing yourself as a victim. Look at the following two scenarios:

  • You’re constantly thinking: “There’s nothing I can do to get the promotion that I want because my boss hates me.”
  • You’re saying the following to yourself: “I’ll never be able to raise the capital that I need for my start-up because banks just won’t lend money to people like me.”

If your thinking is in line with the two scenarios above–that is, if you’re thinking like a victim–, how can you possibly generate enthusiasm?

In order to generate enthusiasm, you need to see yourself as a creator. That is, recognize that you can continually take the steps that you need to take in order to get what you want, regardless of what other people, or even life itself, throw at you.

You can read the first chapter of my ebook, “How to Live Your Best Life – The Essential Guide for Creating and Achieving Your Life List”, which is all about how to become a creator, by clicking here.

5. Surround yourself with people who are enthusiastic and optimistic. Befriend people who will encourage you and challenge you to achieve your goals. Enthusiasm is contagious; when you’re around people who are enthusiastic about their lives and about their work, their enthusiasm will rub off on you.

If you can’t find people who are enthusiastic, surround yourself with videos and audio programs of people who are enthusiastic. Steve Pavlina–owner of the blog “Personal Development for Smart People”–finished college in three semesters. He writes that going through college this quickly meant having eight-hour days of classes.

In order to keep a positive can-do attitude, despite his heavy workload, whenever Pavlina had a break between classes he would listen to audio programs by Earl Nightingale, Zig Ziglar and others. Pavlina explains that this kept him enthusiastic and on top of his studies.

6. Stimulate yourself into a state of high enthusiasm. Hill explains that everyone has something that arouses their enthusiasm—it could be something like the following:

  • Going to museums to admire fine paintings;
  • Listening to music;
  • Spending time in nature;
  • Wearing clothes that make you “look the part”;
  • Reading books by authors that you admire; and so on.

He adds that all people of outstanding achievement have discovered ways and means of stimulating themselves into a state of high enthusiasm. Identify activities or situations that energize you, and engage in them as often as you can.

7. Ask questions. Earl Prevette explains that one of the best ways to generate enthusiasm in yourself is by asking yourself questions about your abilities, your ideas, and your progress. Likewise, if you want to generate enthusiasm in others, ask them questions. Prevette says the following:

“Ask enough questions and you will find the answer. Asking questions starts an endless chain of ideas, each one suggesting several others. Most inventions and improvements are the result of questions. Someone wanted to know the answer.”

Questions stir up ideas, arouse response, stimulate interest, and create desire. That is, they generate enthusiasm. Here are some questions you can use in order to begin generating enthusiasm:

8. Develop the right attitude. Another method which Prevette recommends in order to generate enthusiasm is to have the right attitude. Attitude is getting the right slant on the thing you are doing.

Prevette explains that when he became a salesman he adopted the attitude that he was creating and developing ideas to help others. This perspective gave him the spirit to sell; he was eager to find ways to fill the needs of others, and to fill those needs well. Here’s a quote from Prevette:

“The right attitude toward your job taps a hidden reservoir of knowledge and experience, and puts to work every available force to aid you in the accomplishment of your goal.”

9. Give all of your attention to what you’re doing. Still another way to generate enthusiasm is by giving your full attention to what you’re doing. Prevette explains that doing any job well requires concentration of thought. Integrate your mental attributes completely, pull together, and pay strict attention to what you’re doing. Here’s what Prevette says:

“It is not putting in hours, but putting yourself into the hours that wins promotion, earns more money, precipitates an increase in salary and gets you ahead.”

Whatever it is that you’re doing, look for ways to pull your attention together and place it fully on the activity that you’re carrying out. It’s very difficult to generate enthusiasm when half of your mind is on one thing, and the other half is thinking of something else.

10. Get your energy level up. It’s hard to generate enthusiasm when you feel tired. Make sure that you have the physical energy to be able to generate lots of enthusiasm by getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, and getting regular exercise.

11. Lower your levels of “bad” stress. Stress isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, if you want to achieve anything noteworthy in life, some tension is necessary. Look at the following:

  • To achieve great things you need to learn and grow; that is, you need to step outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis.
  • To get things done, you need to set deadlines.

Challenging yourself to try new things and striving to meet deadlines is stressful. However, setting deadlines that you can keep and striving to meet challenges that you can achieve by making some effort, creates good stress.

Bad stress is when you’re pushing yourself too hard, and you begin to feel overwhelmed and that you’re losing control. Bad stress will zap away at your energy and make your enthusiasm plummet. There are many things you can do to lower your stress levels, such as taking up yoga or meditation, decluttering your mind and your space, prioritizing, and simplifying.

12. Use your physiology. If you’re trying to generate enthusiasm, use the body posture and the tone of voice that you use when you’re talking about something that fills you with excitement. Move and talk as if you’re full of enthusiasm, and your emotions will soon follow suit.

13. Apply your strengths. Whatever it is that you’re working on, you can become enthusiastic about it by applying your strengths. For example, if you’re an artist but you’re currently doing office work, look for ways to add visual elements to your work. As a second illustration, I had a friend in law school who loved to sing. He applied this strength to the task of studying for classes by turning the law school lectures into songs.

14. Begin. Whatever you want to do, begin it. As Prevette explains, the law of nature is the following: “Do the thing, and you shall have the power.” Start learning about the topic at hand; the more you know about something that more likely you are to become enthusiastic about it. In addition, set small goals for yourself and begin to achieve them. These small achievements will help you to generate the enthusiasm that you’ll need to keep going.


Follow the 14 strategies described above in order to kindle the fire of enthusiasm and keep it burning until you’ve achieved everything that you want. If you think of each of your goals as a seed that you’re planting, enthusiasm is the fertilizer that helps the seed to grow.

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declutter and organizeMy last post addressed the subject of decluttering your mind. This post will show you how to declutter and organize your space.

Clutter and disorganization waste time, energy, and space.  By decluttering and organizing your space you’ll be doing the following:

  • Decluttering means examining your life, going through all of your possessions, deciding what’s important to you, and discarding the rest.  It means letting go of the things that no longer serve a purpose in your life so that you can make room for what’s most important to you.
  • Organizing means that everything has a home so that it can be easily found, accessed, used, and put back.

The time that you invest in decluttering and organizing will be returned to you, with dividends, once you’ve created a space that contains only what you really need–or truly brings you joy–and everything can be easily found and accessed.

Here’s the 8-step process for decluttering and organizing your space:

Step One: Schedule It 

The first thing that you need to do is to schedule time for decluttering and organizing your space. There are many different scheduling approaches that you can choose from, such as the following:

  • You can declutter and organize in micro-movements. This is a term coined by the author SARK which consists of taking tiny baby steps forward. Micro-movements can consist of very short sessions that last from one to five minutes each.
  • You can declutter and organize in fifteen minute sessions.
  • You can set aside one-hour-a-day to declutter.
  • You can have a decluttering and organizing marathon that lasts three or four days.
  • You can even create a schedule for decluttering and organizing in 365-days by doing a little bit each day, every day of the year.

How you choose to do it depends on what works best for your personality and your schedule. Simply decide how much time you’ll spend organizing per session, and pencil it into your agenda. Scheduling your decluttering time is key!

Step Two: Designate a Purpose for Each Room

Walk around your home and decide what activities you would like to carry out in each room, as well as the mood you would like each room to convey. Here are six examples for your home:

  • The den can be designated as a place for the family to gather and watch television, play boardgames, bond, and have fun. The mood you may want to foster here is comfort and connectivity.
  • You might want to create a spa-like environment in your bathroom so that it serves as a luxurious retreat.
  • The purpose of the laundry room could be to wash, dry, fold, iron, and hang clothes and linens with minimal pileup.
  • You can define the kitchen as a place to prepare fresh, healthy food and snacks, and where each meal is a celebration.
  • Maybe you want the master bedroom to be a romantic retreat.
  • Your living room could be a place to entertain guests in an ambiance that is simple yet elegant, as well as serene and functional.

You’re going to organize according to the function you want each room to serve, and how you want each room to “feel”.

Step Three: Identify Zones

A room can have several different purposes. You need to identify the different activities that take place within each room and divide each room into zones.  These zones will become the center for specific items related to the designated activity. Set up your space so that everything that you need to accomplish a particular activity is close at hand.

For example, you can create a library area in your living room and place most of the books in your home in this area. Add a comfortable chair, make sure that there’s adequate lighting, and include a side table to place coffee mugs and reading snacks.  You can also place a basket next to the chair in which you can keep magazines and newspapers.

Step Four: Decide Where to Start

Many people are tempted to begin their decluttering and organizational efforts by starting with drawers, the cabinet underneath the bathroom sink, the hallway-closet, and so on. However, you’ll be much more effective if you begin with things that are visible.

First of all, you should start with the room that you use most often. Begin clearing off the visible clutter, such as putting away anything on desktops, tabletops, and countertops that doesn’t belong there, and anything that’s on the floor.  In addition, think of what furniture you can eliminate without sacrificing comfort and livability.

After you’ve cleared off the visible clutter, you’re ready to move on to drawers, shelves, cupboards, cabinets, the linen closet, and so on.  Start at the door and work clockwise around the room.

Once you’re done with the room that you use most often, go on to the second-most-often-used room, then the third, and so on. Remember to concentrate on one room at a time.

Step Five: Declutter and Organize

You’re going to go through all of your possessions, one by one. For each item you’re going to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the item serve a key function in your daily life?
  • Does it bring you joy?
  • Do you have another one that is better?
  • Have you used this item in the past six months?
  • Does it have sentimental value?
  • Would the person that you’re trying to become own this item?

Create six categories and assign a cardboard box for each category. The categories are as follows:

  1. This belongs in another room.
  2. This needs to be fixed or cleaned.
  3. This will be given away, sold, or donated.
  4. This will be thrown out.
  5. This is not mine and needs to be returned to its owner.
  6. This is a “maybe”. If you can’t bear to toss something out because you might need it later, put it in the “maybe” box.

If you’re decluttering a drawer, cabinet, or shelf, take everything out and put it in front of you where you can see everything.  Sort through the pile and put related items together.  Don’t get bogged down in specific, precise categories, just create simple groups so that it’s easier to get everything organized.

Once you have everything in a group go through each group and decide what to do with each item.  Here are some groups of items you can consider:

  • Declutter receipts.
  • Declutter bills.
  • Declutter magazines.
  • Declutter cosmetics.
  • Declutter hair products.
  • Declutter books.
  • Declutter medicines and vitamins.
  • Declutter office supplies.
  • Declutter DVD’s and CD’s.
  • Declutter your dishes, cups, and glasses.
  • Declutter papers you’ve filed.

As you go through each category decide whether it’s something that will be put back, or if it’s going into one of the six boxes. Then put back the things that you’ve decided to keep, in an orderly manner.  Remember that items which you use frequently should be easily accessible.

Also remember that you need to store items where they are used.  If you frequently use a pair of scissors in your family room, keep it in a drawer nearby, not in the kitchen or in your office at the other side of the house.

While you’re decluttering it’s very important that you refrain from trying to work on unfinished projects.  Two examples are the following:

  • If you come across a book you haven’t finished reading, don’t sit down to read it.
  • If you come across a craft project that needs a few more stitches, now is not the time to finish it.

In addition, keep a notebook with you so that you can jot down any repairs that need to be made or add incomplete projects to your to-do list.

Step Six: Go Shopping for Containers

Once you’ve decided what items you’re going to keep, go shopping for containers so that everything remains organized.  Make sure they’re containers you love and that they’re a proper fit for the number of items you will be storing without overcrowding.

In addition, measure the space where each container will be stored and take this information to the store with you to make sure that the containers will fit in the space.   You can consider getting towel baskets, filing cabinets, drawer dividers, and so on.

Step Seven: Take Action With the Boxes

Once you’re done with your organizational efforts, take action with the boxes.

  • Put the “give away/donate” box in the trunk of your car and drop it off the next time you go out to run errands.
  • Throw away the garbage.
  • Go around the house and put all of the things in the “this belongs in another room” box away.
  • Give back anything that doesn’t belong to you.
  • Repair or clean everything in the “this needs to be fixed or cleaned” box.  If you haven’t had these things cleaned or repaired within three months, throw them out.
  • Tape up the “maybe” box, label it, and store it out of sight.  Pull it out three months later and go through it. If you haven’t missed any of the items in the box during those three months, throw them out or give them away.

You have to take action with the boxes right away or these things will simply become clutter again.

Step Eight: Ongoing Effort and Maintenance

Once you’ve established a base-line level of organization you can begin incorporating tips you read or hear about into your organizational scheme in order to make it even better. For example, you can do as Martha Stewart suggests and purchase little sake cups arranged on a nice tray to organize your earrings; you can organize cables in your workstation with Velcro cable ties; and so on.

As part of your ongoing effort to keep your space decluttered and organized, each time that you’re about to leave a room spend two minutes picking up after yourself. In addition, you should consider decluttering every six months or so to make sure clutter doesn’t creep back in.

Lastly, follow these four rules to keep your space in order:

  1. If you take it out, put it back.
  2. If you open it, close it.
  3. If you throw it down, pick it up.
  4. If you take it off, hang it up.


Decluttering and organizing your living and work space is an important part of living your best life. Follow the 8-step process explained above, and start creating order and harmony in your surroundings right away.

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declutter your mindThere’s something a lot worse than having a cluttered home or work space, and that’s having a cluttered mind. A cluttered mind is restless and unfocused. It tries to move in many different directions at once and the result is that very little gets done.

A good way to start the New Year is by making a resolution to clean out some space in your head. You can get started by following the 10 ways to declutter your mind and free up mental space which you’ll find below.

1. Declutter Your Physical Environment. Physical clutter leads to mental clutter. First of all, clutter bombards the mind with excessive stimuli, which forces the brain to work overtime. Secondly, physical clutter signals to the brain that there’s always something else that needs to be done, which is mentally exhausting. As you declutter your physical space you’ll discover that your mind is also decluttered.

2. Write It Down. You don’t need to keep everything stored in your brain. Choose a tool—it can be an online tool, an app, or even a pad of paper—and think of it as a storage device for all those bits and pieces of information that you need to remember. This can include appointments, phone numbers, ideas for future projects, and so on.

3. Keep a Journal. Keeping a journal is similar to the previous point, “write it down”, but with more depth. A journal allows you to download the inner chatter that’s constantly interrupting your thought process when you’re trying to get important things done. For example, you can write in your journal about the following:

  • Things that you’re worried about;
  • Plans for achieving an important goal;
  • Concerns about a relationship that’s draining your energy; and so on.

4.  Let Go of the Past. Mind clutter is often related to the past. Most people keep a large cabinet of mental drawers stored in the back of their minds. These drawers are filled with mistakes they’ve made, opportunities they’ve missed, people they’ve hurt, past grievances, and so on.

Take the time to go through those mental drawers and discard memories of the past that are not serving you well and are just cluttering up your current life.

5. Stop Multi-Tasking. If your house is a mess and you need to organize and declutter it, how would you begin? You would probably start by choosing one important area—for example, the kitchen table—and clearing it of all clutter.

The mental equivalent of clearing off the kitchen table is to choose a certain amount of time which you’re going to devote exclusively to one important task. During that time push all mental clutter to the side and focus all of your attention on the task at hand.

Visualize a table that is clear of all items, except for the one task which you’re going to be working on.  Make sure that the table stays clear of all other items during the entire chunk of time that you’ve devoted to this task. If anything else tries to work its way onto the table, mentally push it off.

6. Limit the Amount of Information Coming In. Too much information can clog up the brain. This includes the information that you take in each day by reading newspapers, blogs, and magazines; watching TV; participating in social media; surfing the web on your smart phone; and so on.

Limit the amount of information that comes into your life—and create space in your brain–by doing the following:

  • Set a limit on the amount of time that you’re going to spend on social media sites or browsing the internet.
  • Unsubscribe from any blogs and cancel any magazine subscriptions that are not contributing to your quality of life or your well-being.
  • Make sure that the opinions that you pay attention to come from well-regarded individuals with relevant credentials.
  • Decide what information is relevant to you and disregard everything else.

7. Be Decisive. If your in-box is filled with documents, but you fail to make decisions on what to do with each one, what will happen? Soon, your in-box will be overflowing with letters, bills, requests from prospective clients, and so on. The way to clear your in-box is by making a decision about what to do with each piece of paper that’s in there.

The same thing applies to your brain. If you put off making decisions, your brain will soon be overflowing with all of the decisions that you need to make. The solution is to be decisive.

For simple decisions, follow an approach such as the one recommended by Benjamin Franklin: create a pros-and-cons list. When you need to make more important and complex decisions, apply a more thorough approach, such as the WRAP Method recommended by the Heath brothers in their book, “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work”.

8. Put Routine Decisions on Auto-Pilot. Small, routine tasks can occupy a lot of brain space. This can include things such as the following:

  • Deciding what to have for breakfast each morning;
  • Deciding what you’re going to wear each day;
  • Making a decision on what to eat for lunch; and so on.

You can reduce the amount of brain space that’s taken up by these routine tasks by putting them on auto-pilot. As an illustration, there’s a popular TV sitcom called “The Big Bang Theory” in which the four main characters are highly intelligent scientists. One of them, Sheldon Cooper, loves routines and has one for just about everything.

Here are some examples:

  • He has a specific pair of underwear and a specific t-shirt that he wears for each day of the week.
  • The food that Sheldon eats for breakfast and for dinner follows a routine (for example, every Tuesday night he eats with his friends at The Cheesecake Factory).
  • Sheldon sets routines for many other activities, such as doing the laundry every Saturday night at 8:15 p.m.

Of course, Sheldon takes things a bit overboard, but you get the picture. Get as many small, routine tasks as you can out of your head by setting them on automatic.

9. Prioritize. Nothing creates as much brain clutter as an endless to-do list. Accept that you can’t do it all, and choose to focus on the things which are most important to you. Make a short list of your top priorities, and make sure that the bulk of your brain space is devoted to the things on that list.

10. Learn to Meditate. In essence, meditation is learning to focus the mind completely on the present moment. When you learn how to place all of your attention on one thing—such as your breath–, all other thoughts disappear. It’s almost the equivalent of taking your mind through a car wash, and having useless and unnecessary thoughts washed away.


Mental clutter leads to congestion in our inner world. It gets in the way of being able to think clearly, and to focus on what really matters. This year, live your best life by decluttering your mind. You can get started by following the 10 ways to declutter your mind explained above.

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2014As 2012 was coming to an end, I recommended that you launch a 365 Day Project for 2013. This year I’m going to encourage you to create a bucket list for 2014.

The bucket list ideas below cover 14 different life areas. In addition, the ideas were taken from my eBook, “Idea Book: 10,000 Ideas for Your Bucket List“. Here are 30 ideas for your 2014 bucket list:

Sports/Fitness Bucket List

1. Ski at Whistler

whistler ski trip

Ski at Whistler Blackcomb located 125 km north of Vancouver, in British Columbia, Canada. Whistler has 8,100 acres (3,277 hectares) of skiable terrain, which is 50 per cent more terrain than any other resort in North America. However, Whistler is not just skiing and snowboarding. There’s also tubing, zip lining through an ancient rainforest, dog sledding, and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

2.Play Bossaball


Play bossaball; it mixes soccer, volleyball, gymnastics and capoeira, and is played on a big bouncy trampoline-like surface. Teams have between 3 and 5 players, and it works like volleyball: the ball is hit back and forth between the two teams. You’re allowed to use your hands, but flipping backward and scissor-kicking the ball is even cooler. Music is a must.

3d Cover- My Fitness and Health Bucket List Workbook


Use “My Fitness and Health Bucket List Workbook” to create a fitness and health bucket list that’s packed with fun ways to get fit, and an eating plan filled with food that is both delicious and good for you. The workbook has ideas and prompts to help you create a list of goals–or bucket list items–that will address every aspect of physical fitness. (Click here to find out more.)


Adventures Bucket List

3.Edge Walk at Toronto’s CN Tower

The CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, is the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. And now, you can walk around the circumference of the roof, from the outside. The EdgeWalk platform—from which you’ll be dangling– is 1,168 feet/356m high.

4. Dive Bahama’s Blue Holes

blue hole

Dive Bahamas’ blue holes. Blue holes are roughly circular, steep-walled depressions, and so named for the dramatic contrast between the dark blue, deep waters of their depths and the lighter blue of the shallows around them. The deepest blue hole in the world—at 202 meters (663 ft)—is Dean’s Blue Hole, located in a bay west of Clarence Town on Long Island, Bahamas.

5. Milk a Cow

milk a cow

As long as you’re going to be drinking cow milk, you should experience milking a cow at least once in your lifetime. Sit on a stool and place a bucket underneath the cow’s udder. Wrap your hands around two of the four teats and squeeze down to push out the milk.

Places to Visit Bucket List

6. Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria


Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in southwest Bavaria, Germany. It’s a19th-century Romanesque Revival palace set up on a hill. It was the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat, as his romantic interpretation of the Middle Ages, and as homage to the composer Richard Wagner.

7. Go to La Tomatina

La Tomatina

La Tomatina is a festival that is held in the town of Buñol in Valencia, Spain, in which participants—about 40,000 of them—pelt each other with tomatoes. It’s held the last Wednesdayof August. This festival began in 1945; theories of how it got started include anti-Franco protestors, a fight between friends that escalated, and rough-play that erupted during a parade. Everyone ends up covered from head to foot in red mush.

8. Ride a Cable Car in San Francisco

cable car

The cable cars are an icon of San Francisco, California. The San Francisco cable car system is the last manually operated cable car system in the world. Currently there are three different cable car lines, the Powell-Mason line, the Powell-Hyde line, and the California Street line. The first two pass by Fisherman’s Wharf–a popular tourist attraction–while the third is mostly used by commuters getting to and from work.

Leisure Bucket List

9. Become a Collector

A hobby you can get started on right away is becoming a collector. Simply choose something that interests you–it can be anything–and start collecting it. The good news is that you can start with just one item and work up from there. You can collect anything from McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys to stamps, and from baseball cards to beanie babies.

10. Go to the Winter Olympics

olympics (2)

Attend the XXII Olympic Winter Games which are scheduled to take place from the 6th to 23rd of February 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Ninety-eight events in fifteen winter sports will be held. The Sochi Olympics will be the first Olympics held in Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Personal Development Bucket List

11. Acquire Conflict Resolution Skills

conflict resolution

Conflict is a part of life; after all, people can’t be expected to agree on everything. 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.

12. Release the Past

let go

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 treated us badly; that professor who graded us unfairly; and so on. In order to be happy in the present, we each need to release the ghosts of the past.

Education Bucket List

13. Get a PhD

get a PhD

Get a PhD and master a specific subject thoroughly. By getting a PhD you’ll be joining the intellectual elite. At the same time, you’ll become more critically sophisticated in your area of expertise.

14. Memorize the Periodic Table of Elements

The periodic table is a table of the 118 chemical elements in which the elements are arranged by order of atomic number. The standard form of the table consists of a grid of elements laid out in 18 columns and 7 rows, with a double row of elements below that.

Financial Bucket List

15. Invest in Gold

invest in gold

Invest part of your portfolio in gold. Traditionally, investing in gold has been used as a hedge against inflation. There are many different ways to invest in gold. One option is to buy bullion or gold coins. Other options include investing in gold mining stock or in a gold mutual fund.

16. Prepare a Will

last will and testament

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.

Relationships Bucket List

17. Go on a Romantic Picnic

romantic picnic

Take a large thermos and fill it with cold lemonade; pack some fried chicken and crispy churros coated in cinnamon in a picnic basket. Then head out to the beach or to the lake with your significant other and have a romantic picnic at the water’s edge. Or, you can just have a picnic at the park or in your backyard.

18. Create a Family Crest


Create a coat of arms for your family that reflects your family identity and your values. The visual representation of your family values can serve as a constant reminder to family members of what your family stands for. In addition, it can foster family unity and a feeling of belonging.

Lifestyle Bucket List

19. Live In a Converted Barn

Many people love old barns, and dream of renovating and living in one. The interior living spaces of a barn are big and spacious, with high wood ceilings. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a simple country life.

20. Go Shopping in Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills California is a four block stretch of road known for its luxury-goods stores, including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Prada, and Versace. If you’re not in the mood for buying anything you can just go window shopping and people-watch. Lots of Hollywood stars shop here, so you just might run into a celebrity as you stroll down Rodeo Drive.

Spiritual Bucket List

21. Live In a State of Gratitude


Living in a state of gratitude means that you live your life from a perspective of being grateful for everything that is. At every moment we have the choice to either focus on what is missing from our lives, or to focus on everything that we have. Learn to live in a state of appreciation, wonder and deep gratitude.

22. Achieve Inner Peace


We gain inner peace not by trying to control the outer world, but by gaining control of our inner world. When our thoughts reflect peace, those thoughts will extend outward, and a peaceful perception of the world will arise.

Contributions Bucket List

23. Create a Christmas Jar

Christmas jar

A Christmas Jar, or an Anonymous Money Jar, is a jar in which you place your spare change throughout the year. Once the change is in the jar, don’t touch it. Just let it accumulate throughout the year. Then, at Christmas time, find a family in need and give them the jar anonymously.

24. Make a Kiva Loan

Kiva allows people to lend money via the Internet to low-income entrepreneurs around the world. For example, you can choose to donate $25 so that Pedro–a farmer in Bolivia–can buy a tractor for his coffee growing business. Once 100 people have each donated $25 to Pedro, he can buy the tractor and make his business grow. Then, he can pay back the loans.

That is, you get your $25 back. You can choose to re-donate your $25 through Kiva to someone else who needs a loan, or you can choose to withdraw your money.

Vocation Bucket List

25. Find a Job You Love

job you love

Studies show that about 80 percent of workers don’t like their jobs. Find a job in an area that you’re both passionately curious about and talented at. At the same time, the salary has to be enough to meet your needs and have some money left over to save and invest.

26. Work From Home

work from home

Many people dream of working from home to be closer to family members, cut out their commuting time, or simply to have the freedom of setting their own hours. In order to work from home you need to either convince your employer to allow you to do so, or start your own business.

Possessions Bucket List

27. Own the Perfect Little Black Dress

little black dress (2)

Little black dresses are a wardrobe staple for every stylish woman. From a black lace cocktail dress, to a black sequin dress, every woman needs to own a perfect little black dress that flatters her body type . It’s a worry-free way to get dressed for almost any occasion.

28. Own the Perfect Black Suit

black suit (2)

A black suit is the male equivalent of the little black dress. Find a black suit that fits you well and wear it with confidence.

Fun Bucket List

29. Have Chocolate Fondue

Chocolate Fondue

Find a great chocolate fondue recipe online, take out your fondue set, and choose your dippables. Almost anything can be dipped in chocolate. You can try dipping pound cake, fresh fruit, marshmallows, pretzels and biscotti.

30. Attend a Murder Mystery Dinner

Murder Mystery Dinner

Murder Mystery is a popular theme for parties. Each guest is assigned a role, or character. During the dinner all the guests ask each other questions to learn more about the characters each one is playing. At some point during the evening the person who was assigned the role of victim will be found “dead”, and everyone else has to try and guess who the murderer is.


Use the ideas above to create your bucket list for 2014. In addition, you’ll find even more ideas in my ebook, “Idea Book – 10,000 Ideas For Your Bucket List”.

Of course, the idea isn’t just to create a bucket list, but to take action in order to achieve it. My ebook, “How To Live Your Best Life – The Essential Guide for Creating and Achieving Your Life List”, will show you how to create your bucket list as a blueprint for your ideal life, and turn it into reality.

Please share your bucket list for 2014 in the comments section below.

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“Mojo” refers to your self-confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy, or even sex appeal. Dr. Evil–Austin Powers’ nemesis in the Austin Powers film series–defines mojo as follows: “The libido, the life force, the essence, the right stuff, what the French call a certain, ‘I don’t know what’”.

If you’ve lost your mojo, follow the 24 surefire ways listed below to get your mojo back.

1. Stop whining. If there’s something in your life that you don’t like, either try to fix it or move away from it. While it’s fine to vent occasionally, endless rumination on the negative is a surefire way to kill your mojo.

2. Do something daring. Go on a mini-vacation by yourself, go bungee-jumping, or do something else that makes you step outside of your comfort zone.

3. Wear something flattering. Looking good will help you to feel good. Also, spritz on some perfume or cologne.

4. Engage in an activity you enjoy. The positive spirit you feel toward what you’re doing will radiate to the outside.

5. Do something you’re good at. The self-assurance you feel while doing something you’re good at will translate to the next task you take on.

6. Practice positive self-talk and try to take your mistakes in stride.  Repeat the following to yourself: “When it comes to dreams one might falter, but the only way to fail is to abandon them.”

7. Get physical. Engage in a physical activity which you enjoy. You can go out for a bike ride, challenge someone to a friendly game of tennis, or go for a long hike. Just like water that doesn’t circulate tends to become stagnant, lack of movement can make you feel sluggish and depleted.

8. Set yourself up to have frequent, small wins. Instead of setting huge goals and telling yourself that you’ll succeed once you achieve them, break your goals down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

Each day that you achieve the daily tasks which will move you closer to your long-term goals, give yourself a pat on the back and allow yourself to feel satisfaction for what you’ve accomplished. Recognize your small wins.

9. Even if you’ve failed miserably at something, keep your head up. To quote Elizabethtown: “So you failed. You wanna be really great? Have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.”

10. Be true to yourself.  Nothing will kill your mojo faster than trying to look outside of yourself for guidance instead of listening to your inner voice.

Are you doing what you really want to do, or are you trying to fulfill the expectations of others? Are you following conventional wisdom instead of listening to your gut? Paying attention to your authentic needs and listening to your inner wisdom is one of the best ways to get your mojo back.

11. Take a moment to look back at your successes. If your mojo is down because you haven’t had any successes in a while, try to reconnect with the feeling of success you’ve had in the past and bring that feeling into the present.

12. Stride purposefully, shoulders back, pelvis out. Think of the Bee Gee’s song “Stayin’ Alive” and use your walk.

13. If your mojo is down due to a failed relationship, forgive and forget. You can’t undo what happened, but you can stop dragging it around with you by refusing to think about it.

14. Marshall Goldsmith, author of “Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It”, recommends that you stop waiting for the facts to change, which is just wishful thinking. If you’ve suffered a setback, you might decide to do nothing until a more comfortable set of facts present themselves.

Goldsmith helpfully advises the following:

“When the facts are not to your liking, ask yourself, ‘What path would I take if I knew that the situation would not get better?’ Then get ready to do that.”

15. Be curious. Learn something new. Find new interests.

16. Be grateful for what you have instead of focusing on what you lack.

17. Stay in your own life: stop comparing yourself to others and don’t stray from your path because you’re trying to copy what somebody else is doing.

18. Hang any awards or certificates that you have in a place where you’ll be able to see them often. Surround yourself with your accomplishments.  You can also place photos of yourself having fun with your friends and family in key places, so that you’re reminded of the people who care about you.

19. Watch someone who exudes lots of self-confidence and model their behavior.

20. Help someone. There’s no better way to feel good about yourself and raise your mojo than by being of service to someone else.

21. Get some sun. Sunlight is vital to your body’s ability to produce Vitamin D. Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, but a steroid hormone which is important for many things, including sustaining your energy levels. Open the windows and get some mojo-activating sunlight.

22. If your mojo is low because you’re having trouble reaching an important goal, and you’re about to give up, think of the story of the village that was famous for miles around because its rainmakers were successful in making it rain 100% of the time.

The surrounding villages were all amazed at this remarkable success rate, so they each sent a representative to find out what this one village was doing differently than they were. It turns out that the reason for their perfect track-record was simple: their rainmakers wouldn’t stop dancing until it rained.

Follow their lead: whatever your most important goal is, refuse to stop dancing–that is, taking the necessary action to achieve your goal–until you’ve succeeded.

23. Feed your soul. Go to a museum, put on a Bach CD, or buy hyacinths and put them in a vase next to the window. Give yourself a mojo boost by bringing more beauty into your life.

24. Take a cue from “Pinky and The Brain”, an animated cartoon series starring two genetically enhanced laboratory mice. Every episode featured one of Brain’s attempts at world domination. And, every episode, Brain failed. However, nothing would discourage Brain. The opening song for the cartoon is preceded by the following dialogue:

Pinky: “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”

The Brain: “The same thing we do every night, Pinky—try to take over the world!”

Keep your mojo strong by never giving up on your plans to take over the world. Yeah, baby!

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Christmas traditionsIt’s Christmas time! Here are 50 glorious Christmas traditions to get your Holidays off to a great start (for kids from 1 to 92).

1. Make a list of your ten favorite holiday songs, find a great version of these songs on YouTube, and look for the lyrics online.  Play them over and over again and sing along. Here are three of my favorites:

As Buddy from the 2003 movie “Elf” explains, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

2. Go to the tree farm to pick the perfect tree.

3. Pile into the car at night and drive around looking at all of the Holiday lights and decorations.

4. Since 1989, every resident on the 700 block of Baltimore’s 34th street has put up Christmas lights. This is known as “The Miracle on 34th Street.” Follow suit: get your neighbors together and start a tradition of being the most Christmassy street in your city.

Coca-Cola Christmas Truck

5. Look for a Coca Cola Christmas truck. Then, watch these Coca Cola holiday commercials on YouTube:

6. Have some hot cocoa, Elf Judy style: “Not too hot. Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred.” (Elf Judy is one of Santa’s elves in the movie “The Santa Clause”.  It took her 1200 years to perfect her hot cocoa recipe.)

7. Set up a Nativity Scene. Better yet, get creative: make a Lego Nativity Scene or make one of these.

8. Put a Santa Sack under the Christmas tree and have each of your kids place any toys that they no longer play with–but that are still in good condition–in the sack. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus takes the old toys and replaces them with new ones. The old toys are then donated.

9. Start the tradition of having a special breakfast on Christmas Day. For example, have Eggnog French Toast.

10. Help your kids write a letter to Santa (here are some templates you can use).

11. Write a letter from Santa addressed to each of your kids letting them know they’ve been added to the top of the “nice list”.  You can also highlight any special accomplishments they’ve had that year in the letter, so that they know how proud Santa is of them.

santa at his desk

12. Start a tradition of having Santa bring each of your kids three gifts, one for each of the wise men. Have the gifts be something to read, something to wear, and something they really want.

13. Make photocopies of your children’s letters to Santa each year and keep them. They can read them years from now and remember back to when what they wanted most in the world was an Elmo doll.

14.  Watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Charlie Brown complains to Lucy about the overwhelming materialism that he sees everywhere during the Christmas season, and how the holiday has become completely commercial. Lucy tells him that he can get into the holiday spirit by directing the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts.

The pageant turns out to be a frustrating struggle. Charlie Brown attempts to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree, but he just seems to make thing worse. Luckily, Linus explains what the real meaning of Christmas is and the joy of the season is restored. Here’s what Linus said:

15. Make a Gingerbread House.

16. Get a special mug you use for the entire month of December. Make sure it has a Christmas theme, such as Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, a Christmas tree, and so on.

17. Bake Christmas Sugar Cookies.  Here’s a YouTube video that will show you how step-by-step: How-to Make Sugar Cookies. You can also use Martha Stewart’s Sugar Cookie Recipe.

18.  Get matching Christmas pajamas for everyone in the family to wear on Christmas Eve (some people wrap the pj’s and everyone unwraps them on Christmas Eve). You can also get the book “The Pajama Elves“, which explains that on Christmas Eve kids are given special pajamas made by elves which magically make them sleepy so that Santa can deliver toys without getting caught.

19.  Get an advent calendar to help you countdown to Christmas. Day by day, starting on December 1st, the windows are opened until December 25th. Another alternative is to make a list of 24 Christmas activities and complete one each day starting on the first of December; that can be your countdown to Christmas.

Union Station Chicago Christmas

20. Find an ornament for each family member that commemorates a special memory for that year. It can be an ornament of a baby bottle for the birth of a child, a ballet slipper for a first dance class, and so on.

21. Another idea is to put a new ornament in your child’s stocking each year, and have them hang their ornament from the tree.  You can even make a special box for them to keep their ornaments in. Then, when they turn 18 and leave home, they can take their box of ornaments with them for their own tree.

22.  Watch your favorite Holiday movies. You can even host a Holiday-movie marathon. Here are some of my favorite Christmas movies:

  • “It’s a Wonderful Life”
  • Dr. Seuss’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”
  • “A Christmas Story”
  • “The Santa Clause”
  • “Miracle on 34th Street”

23.  Read Christmas themed books, in particular, “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore, or “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg.

24.  Make a list of all the people who have touched you in a positive way during the year and send them Christmas cards.

25.  Make a string of popcorn and cranberries for some old-fashioned decorations for your tree.

26. Make sure your house smells like Christmas. Here’s one way to do it:

Place 4 to 6 cups of water in a pot on the stove. Add orange peels (from 1 or 2 oranges), 3 to 4 cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon of whole cloves and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Bring the contents to a boil and then reduce the heat so it is left to simmer.

Better yet, make oranges with cloves.

27. Remember the less fortunate this Christmas. Does your local mall have an “Angels Tree” with the names of children you can get Christmas gifts for? Another idea is to put together a shoebox filled with gifts for a needy child.

28. Play Christmas games at the family holiday party. For example, you can play Christmas Movie trivia and come up with questions for your favorite holiday movies. Here are some examples:

  • In the film “Miracle on 34th Street”, as the film opens, Kris informs a shop owner that he’s mistaken in his arrangement of what in a storefront display? (The answer is reindeer).
  • What state does the film “A Christmas Story” take place in? (The answer is Indiana).
  • In “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, when catching snow flakes on his tongue, Linus thought the flakes needed something. What? (The answer is sugar).

You can also sing a line from a Christmas song and have all the others try to guess what song it is, or play Christmas Bingo.

29.  Once your tree is all decked out, turn off the light and sit on the couch, just admiring the tree.

30. Leave out cookies and milk for Santa Claus. Don’t forget the reindeer: make a wreath of ice with carrot pieces frozen inside, and hang the wreath from a tree. When the ice melts, the reindeer can eat the carrots.

31. Get poinsettias; they’re known as Flores de Noche Buena in Mexico (Spanish for “flowers of the holy night”).

32. Go to a performance of “The Nutcracker”.

33. Stick to the Holiday recipes that your family knows and loves.  If you’re not sure what to make for Christmas, Gooseberry Patch has several fabulous Holiday recipe books.

34. Have a Christmas toast with home-made eggnog. As radio psychologist Dr. Frasier Crane would say, “The first mistake in eggnog preparation is failing to garnish it properly with a dash of nutmeg.”

Christmas Trio

35.  Hang a wreath on your door to welcome in the Holiday, as well as visitors.

36. Hang up the Christmas Stockings.  Make sure each stocking is personalized with the owner’s name. Fill them with simple stocking stuffers. Here are some ideas:

  • Do they collect anything?
  • Is there a movie they love? As an illustration, here are some great stocking stuffers for Harry Potter fans.
  • What are their hobbies?
  • How about gag gifts?
  • Get Holiday candy.
  • Pens and pencils.
  • Socks.
  • A book they’ve been wanting to read.
  • Gift cards.
  • Lottery tickets.
  • Nuts and fruits.

37.  Put together a Christmas Village — a decorative, miniature-scale village often set up during the Christmas season. Add a new house or shop each year.

38.  Hang up the Mistletoe.

39. Throw a holiday party for a good cause. You can charge an entrance fee or have a box where people can donate whatever they want.

40. Read the Christmas Story from the Bible at Christmas dinner (Luke 2:1-20). You can take turns and have each person sitting around the dinner table read a small part.

41. On Christmas Day, give the family a fun new game. Then, play it that afternoon!

42. If you know a family that’s fallen on economic hard times, give them a helping hand this Christmas. This Squidoo lens explains what to give for Christmas to families that are struggling financially. Here are some ideas:

  • Help them stock up on something they use a lot, such as diapers, ink cartridges, and so on.
  • Give them gift cards to help them cover spending they need to do (such as gift cards from Target or Home Depot).
  • Get their car serviced for them.

43. Make a list of your favorite Christmas quotes and post them up all around the house, or set aside a specific bulletin board for your quotes.

44. Record your favorite Christmas traditions for future generations of your family to follow. Take out your camera, start snapping pictures, and place them in a scrap book. Make sure to add notes.

45. Create a new holiday tradition. Before opening gifts on Christmas Day, the Danish join hands with their family members and they form a chain around the Christmas tree. Then, they walk around the tree in a ring, singing Christmas songs. Isn’t that a fantastic tradition? You could consider adopting it.

46. Leave the kids’ Christmas stockings at the foot of their bed so that they have something to entertain themselves with on Christmas morning before the grown-ups wake up (this should buy you about ten more minutes of sleep).

47. Make Christmas ornaments with your family and hang them up on your tree. Even if you’re not crafty, there are lots of easy things you can make. Here’s a reindeer made from clothespins that anyone can make (and I do mean, anyone).

48. Do something kind for an elderly neighbor, such as taking them Christmas shopping or helping them to hang up their Christmas lights. After all, as Charles Schulz was fond of saying, “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”

49. A couple of years ago, in Springfield, Illinois, someone started a “Pay-It-Forward” chain at a Starbucks  drive-through window by paying for the coffee for the car behind them. The chain continued for hours. It started at 7:30 a.m. and continued until 2:30 p.m., with a total of 172 drivers paying for the car behind them. Start the ball rolling on a “Pay-It-Forward” chain to help spread some holiday cheer.

50. On December 24th, track Santa as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world with NORAD. NORAD has placed Santa cams, high-speed digital cameras, at several locations around the world in order to capture images and videos of Santa and his reindeer as they make their journey around the world.

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Related Posts:

1. Eight Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues
2. 48 Joyous Christmas Quotes to Brighten the Season
3. Five Ways to Buy Happiness

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Just for today, December 2nd (Cyber Monday 2013), all of my eBooks are 75% off. Midnight on Monday the sale is over, so hurry. If you’re asked for a discount code, write “Holidays” (without the quotations).

Here are my eBooks:


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SONY DSCThe legendary Jim Rohn once said, “Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day.” That is, success depends on adopting the habits that will allow us to achieve our goals. Some of these habits may include the following:

  • Becoming an early riser;
  • Exercising on a regular basis;
  • Saving 10% of each paycheck;
  • Eating a live frog first thing each morning (completing an important task which you dread); and so on.

However, building positive habits can be difficult. For one thing, creating a positive habit requires self-control, and self-control is often in short supply. Fortunately, there are many tools out there which can help us to acquire new habits. We can call these tools “commitment devices”. One of these commitment devices is temptation bundling.

You’ll discover a definition of temptation bundling, as well as examples and an explanation of how you can apply this commitment device in your own life, below.

Temptation Bundling – Defined

Temptation bundling” is a term coined by Wharton operations and information management professor Katherine Milkman. A few years ago, Milkman was having trouble going to the gym on a regular basis. At the same time, one of Milkman’s guilty pleasures is listening to Audio books of fiction novels like “The Hunger Games”. Therefore, she hit upon the following idea: she would only allow herself to listen to these low-brow audiobooks when she was at the gym.

Milkman discovered that by following this approach, her gym attendance rose dramatically.

Temptation bundling achieves two goals at once:

  • First, it reduces the amount of time that you devote to temptations. After all, you’re limiting the situations in which you’ll allow yourself to engage in the temptation.
  • Second, it increases the likelihood that you’ll engage in desired behavior. That is, it makes it easier for you to adopt positive habits.

Examples of Temptation Bundling

The concept of temptation bundling is intuitive. It’s likely that, at least at some point, you’ve already applied this device. I remember that when I was in college, many years ago, I created a mixed-tape of my favorite songs. Sometimes I would listen to the tape when I was supposed to be studying. In addition, I wanted to create the habit of going for a walk every day.

What I did was the following: I told myself that I could only listen to the tape on my Walkman as I went for a walk. That way, I killed two birds with one stone:

  • During my study time I would work on my assignments instead of listening to the mixed-tape.
  • I would go for a walk every day since I loved listening to the mixed-tape, and my walking sessions were the only time during which I allowed myself to indulge in this activity.

Some other possible applications of temptation bundling include the following:

  • If you enjoying having $5 lattes at the coffee shop around the corner, only allow yourself to do so if you work on a tedious assignment while you’re there.
  • If you love watching shows like “Person of Interest” and “Homeland”, but you hate ironing, only allow yourself to watch these shows while you iron.

Temptation Bundling – Creating A Game Plan

So, how can you begin applying temptation bundling in your own life? Begin by creating a list of temptations. That is, things you love to do, eat, or experience, but which you realize you need to limit. This can include watching TV, eating certain types of foods, reading addictive fiction novels, and so on. This is “List A”.

Then, create a list of “should” behaviors. That is, things you should be doing in order to achieve your goals, but which you tend to procrastinate on. This can include things such as studying, working on important but dull reports, exercising, and so on. This is “List B”.

Lastly, bundle items from “List A” with items from “List B”.


As I stated at the very top of this post, in order to succeed you need to take the action that is necessary for you to achieve your goals on a consistent basis. That is, you need to create habits. Commitment devices, such as temptation bundling, can help you to acquire these habits.

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Related Posts:

1. Stop Procrastinating By Making It Fun
2. The Key To Goal Success: Setting Implementation Intentions
3. What a Masked Vigilante Can Teach You About Goal Achievement – The Zorro Circle
4. Five Scientifically-Proven Ways to Strengthen Your Self-Control

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