Monday, April 26, 2010

When life sucks

Its no secret. Life is hard. You get raw deals, people treat you badly. So how do you get by?

What helps me stay positive is recalling all of the cool things in life that you forget about. Here is a short list of my favorite things in life.

1) After a long day a work, my kids running and yelling "Daddy's home!" as they can't get to me fast enough.
2) My wife when she's trying not to smile :)
3) Road trips to Winona... and stopping in Pepin Heights for carmel covered apples.
4) When fishing, and you feel a bass grab the bait hard.
5) Watching baseball at the mini-met on a warm summer night, with a beer in hand.

Below is the story of what can happen when you focus on one awesome thing each day.

Neil Pasricha is a no-name 30-year-old guy who started 1000 Awesome Things back in June 2008 with the goal of writing about one awesome thing every weekday.

He did this as his life was falling apart. His best friend took his own life and Pasricha's wife left him. They sold their house, and he moved to a tiny apartment, where he tried to get things back on track by talking about one simple, universal little joy every single day — like snow days, bakery air, or popping bubble wrap.

In 2009 Neil Pasricha, won a "webby" for his creation of He now just released his new book called, "The Book of Awesome". Currently over 13 million people have visited his site.

I recommend writing down what you are grateful about. It might just turn your day around. If you don't want to try it, at least sign up for a daily dose of awesome at

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tough Choices

Pre-K T-ball: $52
T-ball: $61
Dance: $70
Swimming Lessons: $50

The above activities are items I'd love to sign my two kids up for this summer. There is just one hurdle - a big pile of debt to the tune of $40,000. We actually have enough to pay for all of the activities and go on nice summer vacation, but a big chunk of the debt will be gone by October if we budget and spend wisely this summer. So that leaves us with a tough choice. Invest in recreational activities that our kids will enjoy now, or pay off debt quickly.

How do you make tough decisions in life? How do you prioritize? What do you value? During the last 16 months I've tried to align our family values with our family decisions. We prioritize our most important values and make decisions based off those values.

For example our top three family values are (in order)
1) Faith in God
2) Family
3) Financial security

We made decisions in the past that were made in haste, and not in alignment with our values. Those past decisions ended up straining our family and our finances.

As hard as it will be to say no to our kids this summer, I know that the financial security of not being a slave to debt, to be able to put money into college funds and retirement funds sooner rather than later, will be worth it.

I tell you what, debt sucks. I don't want to stay in debt long, because saying no to enriching my kids' lives hurts - but at least my decisions are based on my values. By saying no, I can provide financial security to my family much quicker than saying yes.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Tom Izzo guide for success

Tom Izzo has success figured out. The Michigan State basketball coach from my perspective utilizes what we all possess, but are afraid to tap into. What separates him from others is one thing. Action. Action to act on his beliefs, passions, and abilities.

The Tom Izzo's guide for success (as I have observed)

-Work Ethic. NCAA basketball games last 40 minutes. His teams play hard for all 40 minutes. (How many of us can say we do the same at our job?)

-W.I.N.(What's Important Now) He aligns his priorities with his values, and makes decisions accordingly. He asks himself, is it more important to prepare for the next game, or to celebrate the latest success?

-Focus. Tom's quote say's it all "At this time of year, of course, you don't get a chance to sit down and think about it," Izzo said. "That's not what this time of year is for. I'm not even sure the offseason is for that. I think that's the retirement season. I'm not near that."

-Action: As John Woodens says, "Winners make the most mistakes". You learn from your mistakes. You don't learn unless you take action and do the work. The individual who is mistake free is also sitting around doing nothing.

-Passion: Izzo loves basketball and loves to teach it. The love creates enthusiasm, which is contagious.

Question: What would happen if you or I used the guide above for just 1 hour a day?