Making a Plan That Lasts

Why make a plan  for your money?  Isn’t it more fun to just grab what you want whenever you want it?

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Growing Up

Living your financial life with the foresight of a 3rd grader may be fun in the moment, but to have what you want next week and next month, a longer term vision is required.  Problem is, even when people become convinced of the value of budgeting to their peace and financial freedom, their first attempt to make a budget sets them up for failure.

Make it Today, and For Today

If you’re like most people, the first time you sit down to work up a budget for the coming month, you try to create a generic, one-size-fits-all budget that will represent all future months.  You’re planning for the perfect month from heaven, problem is, that month never really happens here in the real world!

The key in building a successful cashflow plan is to spend this month’s income on this month’s expenses.  Some expenses will be nice and consistent, such as your house payment or water bill.  But if you make your budget too generic, it won’t work in real life, and you’ll be tempted to just give up money management altogether.

Get Started

Today’s always the perfect time to start planning your budget for the coming month.  If you haven’t tried the latest version of ThriveWealthy, click the tab above to find the page and download the tool.  Read over the instructions briefly, then start entering your expected paycheck amounts and dates.  Allocate how you’ll spend all of next month’s income in the different categories provided, changing category names as needed to make the budget fit your life.

Enlist Our Help!

Don’t be discouraged when things come up and you have to revisit your allocations several times throughout the month.  As you continue to plan your spending before the money is spent, you’ll improve at predicting your actual expenses, and you’ll also notice that your money will start to be spent on those things that are important to you–with less “falling through the cracks” or getting spent on things that don’t really matter to you.  Feel free to post successes, hardships, or questions to the comments section below; we’re all in this together, and we are all here to help each other thrive!

Keep It Interesting and Avoid Plateaus

Some fitness programs out there give a month’s worth of workouts; others may even go up to 90 days.  But what do you do then?  Rest a week and do it again?  One big problem with that:  you’re asking for a plateau.

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No Endless Loop

One of the key reasons that a program like ThriveFit is superior to many of the month-long of 90-day DVD sets is that not only does it come with 200 workouts (which should last you about a year), but once you reach the end, you’ll have the tools to create more workouts for yourself.  Once you understand the philosophy of varied programming using functional movements, the sky’s the limit for the number of unique combinations you can create.  This makes your workout more enjoyable and less monotonous  but also minimizes your propensity for plateaus.

Apply the Principle

A personal example of this happened to me recently in my 1-rep max squat.  Several months ago, I had plateaued at a squat of 315 pounds.  Traditional programming would have led me to simply keep doing squats week after week.  Instead, I intentionally built for myself workouts involving squats, but sometimes back squats, sometimes front squats, and sometimes thrusters.  Not only that, I also varied how many reps of squats I’d do and whether to do them heavy or light.  Examples of these types of workouts would include:

1. Three rounds for time of

2. As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of:

  • 5 squats 255#
  • 25 pushups
  • 15 box jumps 24″

3. For time:

  • 21 thrusters 125#
  • 21 v-ups
  • 15 thrusters 125#
  • 15 v-up
  • 9 thrusters 125#
  • 9 v-ups

With this type of programming, I was able to train my squatting muscles without repeating the exact same movement in the same way week after week.  As a result, when I retested my max squat last week, I found I had jumped from my previous max of 315 pounds all the way up to 345!  While this won’t get me anywhere near the Olympics, it was a huge gain for me and a big victory in an exercise I’ve struggled with for some time.

Try It Yourself!

I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the ThriveFit page and learn the philosophy and techniques.  I look forward to hearing about your success reaching new heights by mixing things up!

Leading Takes Listening

I used to think that leaders were the ones with all the answers—the smartest ones in the room.  While it takes intelligence to lead a team, I’m learning that great leaders do something you might not expect, and they do it exceptionally well.

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You may think that you’re the smartest person in the room—and you might even be right.  But if you’re unwilling to listen to the people around you, you will dramatically hamper your effectiveness as a leader.  Leaders listen, both for ideas and in order to influence those they lead.

Listen for Ideas

Even if you are a genius, you don’t have a monopoly on good ideas.  The beauty of this world God made is that things work best when people work together.  Jesus used the example of the body to describe His bride, the church.  An eye has a different function and role than an ear, just as a foot can be used more effectively accomplish some things than can an eyelash. Here’s the takeaway—you may be an excellent hand, but no matter how great a hand you are, there’s no way you can hear a noise—only ears can do that.  Recognize your strengths but be willing to seek feedback and ideas from the people around you.

Listen for Influence

Do you look others in the eyes when they speak?  Do you really listen to what they’re saying?  If you do these things, you’ve certainly noticed how few other people do this.  When you do little things like make eye contact, adopt a welcoming posture (no arms crossed, no hands in pockets), ask questions, and use the name of the person you’re talking to often, you will be amazed how people will open up to you.  In doing this, they demonstrate their trust in you.  And to be trusted means to have influence.  Make the effort to truly listen and care about the person you’re talking to, and you’ll be amazed how they will want to hear from you.  Humility, respect, and trustworthiness—things that we know belong to good leaders, but the question is, will you exemplify them today?

You Can Lose It!

Think of 10 friends you know.  Or better yet 10 of your neighbors.  How many of them are overweight or obese?  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven!  Shocking, yes.  Disheartening, yes.  Solvable, Yes!

Although many temporary diets are unsuccessful, there is hope for those who find the scale reading a number larger than they’d like.  If you’re looking to shed some weight and create a healthier life, you can do it!  Today we’ll look at three components to a successful and sustainable weight loss plan.

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What Do You Really Want?

First, you have to actually want it.  Many diets fail simply because the dieter didn’t really want to lose weight; rather, his wife, his brother, or someone else wanted it for him.  Or perhaps the fellow we’re talking about did want to lose weight, but not in the, “I’m committed and willing to work and sacrifice,” kind of way.  To illustrate, I may want a green and vibrant lawn, but if I don’t put down fertilizer and seed, keep it watered and trimmed, I demonstrate that this idea is more of a fanciful dream than a real desire.

Avoid the Roller Coaster

Secondly, you need a permanent program.  The idea that you can avoid cake and skip breakfast for a month, then go back to normal and have this accomplish anything permanently is absurd.  The key to a successful diet program is that it must be a permanent change to healthier eating.  Now, before you get scared and exit this site, you can still have cake in this life!  🙂  The point is to start taking up healthier habits that you can continue indefinitely.  So, for example, maybe you start a new habit of having a vegetable with lunch every day, or limiting fast food runs to two per week.  Find the biggest problem areas that you have today and begin replacing them with healthier options.

The Right Supplements

Finally, you need to find a nutrition program that works for you.  Have you ever seen two friends undertake the same diet or exercise program, only to have one friend succeed and the other fail?  How is this possible?  How can you find the right diet program for you?  In my research, I’ve only found one weight-loss program that offers a custom solution to you individually, and is affordable and healthy long-term.  It’s called BodyKey from Nutrilite, and is the only program to tailor natural supplements to you based on your individual DNA.  This program is one of the reasons we’ve chosen to align ourselves with this company:  no one else offers a full 6-month satisfaction guarantee on every product they sell.  Yes, you heard that right:  if you begin the BodyKey nutrition and fitness program and aren’t satisfied with the results 6 months later, you get a full refund!  Where else can you find that kind of security on an investment?  And what better could you invest in than yourself?

For more information about BodyKey or other great plant-based products from Nutrilite, check out our ThriveMart page or send us a message today!  We’re here to help you thrive and enjoy a healthy life for many years to come!

Set the Right Goals, and Don’t Forget to Execute!

Believe it or not, we’re coming up on the second quarter of 2013—have you set your goals yet? If you had set goals for 2013, are you progressing toward them? If you’re like many people, you may have let these aspirations move to the back burner. Today we’ll look at whether these goals should move to the front burner or off the stove completely. For those that do belong on your front burner, how can you keep your focus on them and ensure that they’re reached?

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What’s the Problem?

There are a few major reasons why a goal you set early in the year will fade into the background after a few weeks or months. One reason could be that the goal was not something you truly want or value. Sometimes it can be difficult to really drill down to the things we really want. In fact, focusing on ourselves only can result in blurry vision. Instead, recognize that your Creator God made you in a particular way; individually and different than anyone else. What strengths and passions has He placed in you, and what purpose does He want to use you to accomplish?

Translate the Long Term to What to Do Today

Another common reason that we discard our goals relates to lack of detailed planning and accountability. Instead of setting general goals and stopping there, translate your goals into weekly activities and execute them consistently.

Seven Key Areas

The following six-step process provides a simple overview of how to set the right goals and adopt the habits that will lead you to reach them. Use these steps as guidelines to build a specific process that works for you. This method can be applied to reach success in any area of life, and we recommend using it for eack of the following areas:
• Career
• Fitness
• Personal Development
• Spiritual
• Family
• Financial
• Social

The six steps toward setting and executing worthwhile goals are as follows:

Step 1 – Figure out what you want. Peace? Financial security? Influence? Travel? Strong relationships? Missions? Taking care of family? Be specific. What would your life look like if you inherited $200 million today and also learned that you have only 5 years to live?

Step 2 – Find people who have what you want and listen to them; protect your mind from people [who don’t have what you want] who want to give you advice. Does your brother-in-law have financial success? If not, don’t take his financial advice.

Step 3 – Based on what you want (step 1) develop big, 5-yr goals. Figure out the goals you’ll need to hit this year to reach these big goals. Then, figure out the goals you’ll need to hit this month to hit the annual goals.

Step 4 – Plan out daily activities that will lead you to your monthly goals. Work with an experienced mentor [from step 2] to insure you choose the right activities.

Step 5 – Put your daily activities into your calendar, and stick to your calendar

Step 6 – Forget about the goals and focus on executing this day’s activities. Report how you did to your mentor. If you completed today’s activities, be happy with that.

Focus on things you can control—your activity. Focusing on results instead of activities you can control can be frustrating. Use your mentor to determine the right activities, do them consistently, and results will come.

What’s the thread?

What’s TotalThriver.com all about?  Perhaps you noticed last week the feature of the ThriveFit training program and took a moment to learn how an Olympic lift can help you get in great shape and look and feel better.  Maybe you scrolled down to see the previous week’s post about eternity and what God has planned for His children.  After that, you clicked the ThriveWealthy tab on the top menu and downloaded the free cashflow planning tool, including instructions for getting your finances in order.  Are these topics related?  What connects these seemingly unrelated ideas?

oven mitts!

You’re not an ice-cube tray

The threads that connect these aspects of life are at the very core of our mission here at TotalThriver. A prevalent notion in our culture today is the idea that we exist as individuals with different compartments, which are separate and distinct from each other.  For example, a man may delude himself by thinking, “Sure, I’m harsh and unsympathetic at work, and sometimes I take advantage of my employees, but that has nothing to do with my relationship with my wife and kids.  Who I am at work is not who I am at home.”

Contrast this with the wisdom of God’s Word.  In Proverbs 23, we read:

6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;

7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
He says to you, “Eat and drink!”
But his heart is not with you.

This is a teaching given throughout the Bible–that the heart is where our behavior and actions originate.  Similarly, Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that:

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

Address the real problem

All of us want to thrive in life–and particularly those of you who’ve come to this site to find tools and resources to do just that.  But the first step in moving forward is to recognize that our “less than thriving” behaviors in the various aspects of our lives are rooted in our heart.  The man who mistreats his employees has a heart problem.  And this problem of the heart will manifest itself everywhere in his life.

To insist that poor behavior in one area in life has nothing to do with other areas of life is dangerous because it refuses to recognize the real connections within your own person.  And without clear understanding of the cause of a problem, no true change can be made.

What are your “unseen connections?”

Take a moment to consider personally, “what aspects of my life have I been neglecting?”  If your life is a wheel made up of five spokes (physical, financial, spiritual, relational, career), which spoke is deficient and giving you a wobbly wheel?

Try to seek out the connections between parts of life where you aren’t thriving and the negative effects that they produce in other areas of your life.  Do you hate your job?  Do you then come home angry and fight with your spouse?  Or perhaps you’ve not exercised in months, and notice that you just don’t have the energy level to care for your family that you once did.  By identifying the negative results that you most dislike and connecting them to their causes, you’ll find the motivation to make the investments of time and energy needed to thrive in one area, bringing success in both areas.

The bonus

That’s what’s so great about starting to understand how these areas relate–you improve the area that needs improvement, but you get a bonus in other areas.  The clearest example of this is the area of fitness.  When you spend time exercising your body properly, you’ll notice an improvement to your physique.  But you get a bonus benefit in your work life, as you have better energy levels and can be more productive.  And you’ll likely notice an improved relationship with your spouse, as your frustrations have been taken out on a barbell instead of your lover!

The connections between these areas of life are complex and seemingly infinite.  Some, like the examples above, can be understood and generalized.  Others are known by God alone.  Yet as we understand more and more that our behavior and the results of our behavior stem from the heart, we work to thrive in each area to the satisfaction of ourselves and the glory of our Maker.

What Are You Doing Tomorrow?

We’re always making plans for tomorrow—whom we’ll see, what we’ll do, and where we’ll go.  Whether it’s fun activities like attending a party or playing a game of basketball, or mundane tasks like cleaning the garage, we assume that our plans will happen and we’ll have the time to accomplish what we set out to do.  But is this assumption secure?

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One in A Million?

Historically, how many people have never died?  Not too many?  Were any of these people less than (gasp) 40 years old when they died?  Of course, we all recognize that death comes to all men, and to many, the end is not at 75, but much much sooner.  While we lament this verity, many of us (and myself definitely included) seem to ignore the obvious fact that these statistics are applicable to us.

James 4:

13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are [just] a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, [you ought] to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

A Sobering Reminder

Most all of us can think of people in our life, people we may have been very close to, who have passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  It is a shocking and surreal experience to lose someone whom you thought you’d have many more years with.  When people we love go through this valley, it is our charge to comfort and pray for them, and hold them tightly as they walk through the pain.

But it is also our responsibility to take these moments as reminders that life is fleeting.  And not just life in general, but your life, my life!  I may not have tomorrow, and therefore must use today to do that which truly matters.  Only God’s Kingdom is eternal—am I seeking it first, or letting it get crowded out by many other fleeting things?

How We Spend Our Time

Am I using my gifts and talents to pursue that with is God-glorifying and beneficial to my family and those whom I love?  Or am I settling for mediocrity, more of the same, and the lack of excellence that is common among the time-wasters and complainers?

I hope you’ll join me on the journey toward personal growth and the pursuit of your grand calling.  God has seen fit to give me breath for today, and He has a purpose in mind for this life of mine.  May God bless us both as we grow in grace and knowledge of Him.

Why a Watch?

When you visit the ThriveFit page, you may notice that an unusual piece of equipment is required for nearly all of the workouts recommended there:  a stopwatch.  Unlike many workouts that you’ll see people doing in your local gym, our regimen involves completing a certain number of repetitions during a discrete period of time.  Is there a good reason for working out this way?  What are the advantages and benefits?  In today’s article, we’ll answer these questions and unpack how this strategy can help you reach your fitness and physique goals!

C&M Posing!

Better Challenge, Better Results

Most ThriveFit workouts take a form like the following:  with a continuously running stopwatch, complete three rounds of:  15 pushups, 20 lunges, 30 jump rope jumps.  Your goal is to complete all the reps in as little time as possible.  One of the beauties of this method is that whether you’re very fit or a complete beginner, this workout can challenge you.  The fitter you are, the lower your time will be, but as long as you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can, you’ll be worn out by the last rep.  And if you’re super fit, you can always adjust the workout up by adding more rounds.

Intensity Through Competition

A second benefit of keeping track of the time it takes you to complete a workout is that it promotes competition.  This competition could be between (1) you and a friend, or (2) you and yourself.

In previous articles, we’ve explored the many ways that having a training partner helps push you to greater heights and keeps you motivated and accountable.  By committing to a program like ThriveFit with a friend, you have the added benefit of being able to compete for the fastest time.  If you and your friend have a fitness disparity, you can even adjust the workouts up or down for one of the partners to cause a close finish every time.  For example, perhaps the workout for the day is: as many rounds in possible of: 8 clean and jerks 115#, 15 pushups.  If one training partner is a little stronger, he may use 135# while his partner stays with the recommended 115#.

A Worthy Competitor

Even if you aren’t able to find a workout partner right away, timing your workouts allows you to compete with yourself.  As you progress through the ThriveFit workout plan, keep track of your scores and times in a notebook or a spreadsheet.  Them, make sure to go through the list from time to time and recomplete workouts that you’ve done previously.  You’ll have your old time in mind while you’re doing the workout, which will push you to move faster and leave your old records in the dust!

Not only do your previous times help you push yourself harder and faster, but you’ll also have a clear basis for tracking your progress.  As your times go down and your loads go up, you’ll feel a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  Depending on your fitness goals, you may be tracking things like your weight and body fat percentage already, but an even more test of how you’re doing is to track how long it takes you to do 3 rounds of: 15 snatches 95#, 15 pull-ups!

Improve In Multiple Ways

And finally, keeping time while you complete an entire workout turns a strength-only scheme of exercises into a strength, endurance, and stamina challenge.  Most people’s workout program involves doing 10 reps of bench press, stand around for 5 minutes, 10 more reps, stand around more, 10 reps, etc.  Not only are they wasting lots of time getting through a workout, but that rest between sets allows them to catch their breath each time.  Conversely, the ThriveFit workouts keep your body moving constantly, resulting in a challenge to your cardiovascular system as well as your muscular strength and stamina.  Incidentally, this is a good reason to keep your rest periods short in the cases where you can’t complete a full ThriveFit workout without stopping.  Keep your rest periods to just a few seconds if you must take them, and get back in and knock out a few more reps.  Having shorter, more frequent rests will give you a shorter time and a better challenge than taking longer, less-frequent rests.

Our Network is for You

Today we’ve shown just a few of the many benefits associated with working out with a timer.  By timing the entire workout, you promote competition between yourself and others (or at least yourself and yourself), you have a means of tracking your progress, and you get to challenge your body more completely, which ultimately leads you to reaching your fitness goals more effectively.  Be sure to let us know how you’re doing along the way by sharing comments on the ThriveFit workout pages!  Happy training!

Keys to Leadership and Success

Last weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a Leadership Team Development (LTD) business conference in Louisville, Kentucky.  My team and I had the chance to learn leadership and success principles from some of the best in our industry.  For your benefit, I’ve summarized some of our major takeaways from the weekend in the following article.  If you’re interested in how you can join this amazing team and have access to great conferences and leaders like these while you create an additional income stream for yourself, feel free to comment on this post or leave a message on our ThriveMart page.  We’d love to be a part of your journey to the top!

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Common Denominators

My single biggest takeaway from the weekend came from a presentation of the five common denominators of every successful business owner.  The general idea was that even though different people build their businesses differently, they all generally do the following five things consistently.

Harmony

In my mind’s eye, I pictured business as an engine.  If you take action on these five things consistently, your engine stays in step with itself–in harmony.  But if not, the time and energy you spend on one cylinder gets for the most part wasted when one of your other cylinders isn’t firing properly.  I believe that a lack of knowledge of this principle has been one thing that has held our business back from realizing its full potential up to this point.  When I first got into business for myself, I thought, “This is great—I get to be my own boss and set my own schedule” and I think I translated that into, “I need only do the things I find fun; I can avoid the uncomfortable things.”  In reality, the proper way to build a business is to set the time commitment you’re willing to make, and work on each of the five things consistently during the time you’ve made available.

Ok, enough commentary, here are the five things:

  • Consistent sales:  Be sure that you’re using your products personally promoting their benefits to existing and potential customers.
  • Read and listen:  Become a collector of great business books and audio recordings of the best and brightest leaders of today and yesterday.  Incidentally, Zig Ziglar is probably my favorite person to read and listen to.  Make sure you get at least a few hours of reading and at least a few hours of listening each week.
  • Lead others:  Share your business with others who have interest in joining your team.  Once you understand how to do something, you can help another person learn it.  Multiply yourself by training others to learn and do those things which made you successful.
  • Spend time around successful people:  Get around the people who have what you want and are doing what you want to be doing as often as possible.  Attend informal gatherings, team meetings, and conferences as often as they are available.  Make the decision to consistently attend beforehand and work the other demands on your schedule around your business. (Note: never lose sight of your priorities:  God, family, then business.  But work your schedule in advance in order to attend these important opportunities for instruction and encouragement)
  • Communicate with your team: Call, email, and text your mentors as well as those whom you are mentoring.  Good communication increases accountability and helps mentees learn from your actions.

Don’t Stop Short

A final picture of this idea goes like this.  Assuming a soda costs $1, what do you get if you put 95 cents into the machine?  Nothing.  You spent all that effort getting the money in, but because you didn’t get all the way to the full dollar, you end up getting nothing.  Neglecting one of the five areas is like leaving off the last five cents.  Don’t leave your effort in the soda machine or run your car on 3 cylinders:  translate these concepts into your life and get going on your journey to the top!

Who’s Programming You?

We are all given a limited amount of time in this life, and we all want to make the most of it.  But how intentional are we about who we spend our time with?  For good or for ill, the people we spend the lion’s share of our time with will impact who we become.  Are your associations building you into the type of person you want to be?

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Anyone Bringing You Down?

It’s been said that your income will be the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.  I contend that often your habits, worldview, and maybe even your physique will also tend to mirror that of the people you let into the moments and hours of your life.  If you’re a part of a group of successful people, over time you’ll tend to build yourself into a successful person too.  If you hang around with losers, you’re well on your way to becoming one.

Observe the Words

A good way to distinguish successful people whom you’ll want to model from the kind of people who’ll bring you down is to listen to what they’re predominantly talking about.  Are they more positive and encouraging?  Or do they spend a good deal of time speaking about others negatively?  Is their conversation about future goals they have, and the means they’re planning to accomplish those goals?  Or are there frequent diatribes of blame:  I’d be better off but for what so and so did; If I weren’t so unlucky, I wouldn’t have all these problems.  A person who you want shaping your character will be speaking positively about future events more than he’ll be speaking negatively about past ones.

Avoid Pride

One quick disclaimer before you think I recommend sitting in your own personal ivory tower looking down on all the poor untouchables down there: there is a distinction between choosing to be part of a toxic circle of friends and spending time with people in order to evangelize, mentor, or disciple them.  The former is hazardous to your future, the latter is vital.  Only make sure that you’re spending enough time with strong leaders that you are strong enough yourself to influence a weaker group, rather than being influenced by it.

Can I Do That?

But where can I find a group of strong and godly leaders?  Why would they want to hang out with me?  I have two answers to this point—a short term and a long term answer.  First, you already know a few winners, and I think if you’ll spend a few moments considering it, you can think of few high-quality people in your life who’d answer your phone call.  Start there.  As you intentionally work on those relationships, you’ll be exposed to other winners naturally, and better than that, you’ll actually start to see and recognize the qualities of good leaders in those around you.  And one great thing about strong, godly, successful leaders is that they absolutely love to help people like you who are looking to grow themselves!

Own Your Time

Limit your time around negative people.  Particularly if your core group is of this sort, you’ll have a hard time keeping your distance, but you must gradually ramp down the time and replace it with time with positive role models.  If your negative group is family, you’ve got an even more challenging task.  But you must do it—for your good and ultimately theirs.  Get strong enough over time by being with winners that you’re capable of being around the weaker group and influencing those people positively.  And finally, recognize that you can create boundaries with people—even if those boundaries make people mad.  In fact, if your boundary makes a person mad, they’ve just identified themselves as the kind of person that you definitely need to set boundaries with!  A winner will respect others’ boundaries, and even if he feels slighted, he’ll approach you in a gentle and respectful manner, because that’s how winners behave.

Simple, Not Easy

Today’s lesson can be a tough one to live, particularly if the discussion of “toxic groups” brings the names of a few close friends to mind.  But just as the flight staff tells you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping your child, the best way to help your negative friends is to become a real leader yourself.  We’re here for you along the way, as is our Father in heaven.  Follow Him first and you’ll never be last.