How to Make Decisions: 10 Useful Questions and 5 Simple Techniques

This post is by Barry Demp of dempcoaching.com.

I like things to be simple, and yet if you read even a fraction of the information about decision-making, you could get a brain cramp! For that reason, I will share some simple ideas that you may “try on” as you navigate your professional and personal life decisions.

General questions and techniques for great decision-making

Decisions

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When you’re making any decision, it’s useful to ponder these questions:

  1. What are my needs, preferences and the objectives I desire?
  2. How can I use both my heart and head in making this decision?
  3. What creative alternatives can I generate?
  4. What are the drawbacks and risks associated with this decision?
  5. What are the positive outcomes that will occur if I make this decision?
  6. What would logic and an objective approach have me decide?
  7. What do my intuition and gut tell me to do?
  8. What does my knowledge and experience suggest?
  9. What decision will benefit the most people?
  10. What process or techniques are available to make this decision?

You can use these simple techniques to help with any decision:

  1. Create a Pros and Cons list of advantages and disadvantages of each decision.
  2. Prioritize by choosing the options with the highest probability of success.
  3. Choose the first option that comes to mind. It is often correct.
  4. If the option is between two equally good decisions, flip a coin and get into action.
  5. Check your moral compass and values and ask yourself what is right.

“The pain of discipline weighs ounces whereas the pain of regret weights tons.”  Jim Rohn

The power of making effective decisions and taking decisive action is the source of professional and personal success. If you happen to make a mess—and we all do from time to time—you can always decide to clean it up.

What decisions are you facing in your professional or personal life today? Which of the above questions and techniques will you use to help you choose a route forwards?

Barry Demp is a highly-skilled Michigan Business and Personal coach, working with small business owners, executives and other professionals. He has a free ebook Time Management Strategies and Tactics: A Workbook available on his website, and he blogs regularly about self-improvement.

Why You Should Volunteer

Too often we get caught up in our own lives. We mean to volunteer and “be a good person”—whatever that means—but we just don’t get around to it. For some days, being busy is a good enough excuse. But what you’re missing out on is far more valuable than a little lost leisure time.

Personal satisfaction

You probably remember that feeling you got after participating in your company’s canned food drive last year. But do you remember how quickly it went away? The point to volunteering is to do it regularly enough that you’re getting the full benefit of it along with the nonprofit you’re working with.

Volunteering

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Of course, if you’re doing something you hate, quite frankly, you’re never going to feel good about it. The trick is to find something that may not be 100 percent fun, but it is something you can do with a smile on your face.

Gardeners can look for opportunities in the spring to help landscape nonprofits, and those who love children can work at a Boys and Girls Club. If you know a specific craft or skill, contact your local library and see if you can offer a class on it through them. People who enjoy a little alone time can work at historical societies and comb through data and records or even walk cemeteries to record burial sites.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure that it’s something you don’t mind eating away at your free time or you likely won’t stick with it.

The personal side of networking

If you’re looking for a way to meet people, either as friends or business contacts, look no further than your local food pantry. Volunteering releases all sorts of endorphins that will make you a happier, friendlier person that’s just ripe for hiring or befriending.

Looking for friends? Chances are good you’ll find someone with your same interests if you find a specialized volunteer position. Chances aren’t that great that they’ll be in the same age group (depending on the position), so be open to mentoring a college student or helping a senior.

Better than exercise?

Okay, no, it’s not better for your body than exercising. It will, however, give you some of the same benefits. The Corporation for National and Community Service created a report from 30 studies that showed significant health benefits for those who volunteered 100 hours or more a year.

Heart attack patients were less likely to battle depression after their hospitalization if they were volunteers or if they began to. In one study, those 65 and older lived longer if they volunteered. Another study showed older generations had less of a decline in health. Yet another study showed that those with significant health problems progressed better than science can account for.

In addition to all of that, volunteering gets you off the couch. Whether you’re walking around, playing with children or gardening, you’re going to be moving around. Even volunteering at a food pantry can require anything from lifting and carrying heavy boxes to filling grocery sacks. However, if you have problems with mobility or lifting, don’t hesitate to contact an organization. More than likely, they’ll need someone to work the receptionist’s desk or be a greeter.

Learn new skills

Sure, you could take classes to learn new skills. But they’re not going to be as hands-on as learning in the moment. Many nonprofits use online training to teach their recruits, but others will sit down with you and explain things.
You can learn grant-writing (a semi-lucrative writing career), just by volunteering at an animal shelter. Often, the directors will teach you enough for you to do it and guide you through the first one. Their investment in you pays off as you continue to work with them.

At many organizations, you can learn new computer programs. The volunteers are all busy people, but they’re also patient, and they’ll recognize that it’s important for you to know everything that’s going on in the system. Respect their time and pay attention, and they’ll be as helpful as you need them to be. You can also learn soft skills, like working with children or training animals.

So what are you waiting for?

If you’re looking for a great place to volunteer, check your local United Way. They’re a collection of non-profits, and you’ll be able to talk to someone in person about your skills and where you’d best fit. You can also get information on which non-profits have an upbeat atmosphere instead of a frazzled one. If they’re frazzled because they’re understaffed, go ahead and try them. If they’re frazzled because of poor management, though, they’ll only add stress to your life.

For those who want to type in some keywords and get results, check out Volunteer Match, which lets users type in a keyword and their location to find some options they would be interested in. Go through a search portal like Volunteer Match instead of just Googling a term, though, because many non-profits don’t have websites.

Now get out there and start helping others and yourself!

Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing, and family life. He has a keen interest in blogging and social media and is an advocate for online training.

10 Tips to Thrive—Not Just Survive—this Holiday Season

This post is by Judith A. Belmont of www.judybelmont.com.

When you think of the holidays, what comes to mind? If you are like most people, on the top of your list are family gatherings, time spent with close friends, lots of good food and drink, gift giving, a time of cheer and joy … and stress.

Festive gifts

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In our current precarious economic climate, with high unemployment, corporate downsizing, and the collapse of the housing market, the conditions of the holiday season are shaping up to be stressful indeed.

Despite these times of economic uncertainty, holiday gift-giving is at the forefront of people’s minds, creating a large amount of stress. Too many of us end the holiday season with charge cards run up along with our debt from giving gifts we can’t really afford, while we carry around extra pounds we have accumulated by excessive holiday eating. For all the hype going into the holiday season, many of us are left with a post-holiday “let down.”

With all these factors, even the most close-knit families are taxed, and pressure on marriages and family relationships is heightened. To add insult to injury, any hidden fault lines in family dynamics become more prominent themes during the holidays, as this stereotypical, “ideal” time of closeness clashes with the reality of family bickering, resentments, estrangement, and loss.

The following are tips on how fill your holidays with the positive stress of anticipation, excitement, and wonder, while at the same time limiting the negative stress so often associated with the pressures of our challenging times.

1. Everything in moderation

The holidays are times of excess in many arenas. Eat and drink moderately, don’t overspend what you do not have, avoid racking up credit card debt that will take months to pay off, and do not forgo the routines that keep you sane and “in balance” the rest of the year.

2. The best things in life are free

Remind yourself of this saying often throughout the holidays. It is very easy to get sucked into the mentality that bigger and more expensive is better. Focus on times with family and friends that are built around togetherness, games, and fun, none of which require spending money you might not have.

Give with your heart and friendship rather than focusing on giving material possessions. Memories can not be bought, and neither can relationships. With companies cutting back, maybe your gift budget should likewise be trimmed.

3. Put self-care high on your holiday wish list

The holidays are a time when self care is the most important—too often unwanted pounds accumulate with the vast array of holiday foods around during the holiday season. Make sure you exercise regularly and plan time to keep yourself moving. You will also tend to eat less if you are working hard to keep yourself fit.

4. Accept that your family will not win the Norman Rockwell Award

Be realistic about your imperfect family relationships. Chances are, if there are rifts or longstanding issues in your family, they will not be magically solved this holiday season. Accepting the imperfections of those close to you and enjoying these imperfect relationships will help you limit undue stress during the family get-togethers. Cutting out the magical thinking makes for a much lower stress holiday.

5. Enjoy a “good enough” holiday

Spare yourself the need for things to go perfectly this holiday season. Take the pressure off of yourself! Beware of your unrealistic expectations. Strive for just a “good enough” holiday and you might be surprised at how much more enjoyable it can be without the guilt-provoking strings attached!

6. Don’t force the fun

With the hype of the holiday season, people feel a need to be jovial and happy, and are ashamed if they feel “down” or blue. The expectation of being in the “holiday spirit” can lead even the most well-adjusted people to feel inadequate and even freakish if the “holiday blues” sit squarely on their shoulders.

Just knowing that emotional lows as well as highs are normal can offer solace to many. This is especially true for those who have experienced loss of loved ones through estrangement, death, and divorce. The holidays hit us hard when we are dealing with loss.

7. Make new traditions

In these changing times, re-evaluate your traditions. Keep the ones that work, and work with friends and family to create new ways of celebrating that bring freshness and change to your relationships and traditions. Things don’t have to be the same thing year after year if these traditions no longer work. This holiday season can be a time of growth and change as well as a time for familiar, comforting family traditions.

8. Seek support and share your feelings

Let this holiday be a time in which you strengthen your bonds by being open and honest about how you feel. You don’t have to be “tough.” Do not feel like you need to be “tough.” Ask for help if you feel like you want or need it.

People who can show their vulnerabilities and have a strong sense of community and support are better equipped to handle life’s stresses. Numerous studies have correlated happiness with strong supportive social networks.

9. Manage stress, don’t carry it!

Realize that stress can be positive—stress isn’t always bad. It can heighten your sense of involvement and bring excitement to your world, but all too often people view stress as unwelcome and negative. Stress Managers contain their stress, while Stress Carriers cope with their stress by giving it to everyone else!

10. Stress comes from within, not without

Remember that stress does not come from the outside. The holidays do not make us stressed in themselves—rather, it’s our take on outside events and how we view what happens on the outside that causes us to be stressed.

If our Norman Rockwell-like holiday fantasies and ideals clash with the reality of our own less-than-perfect lives, we experience a disconnect of what we think “should be.” Making peace with “what is” rather than what “should be” will help us thrive and not just survive this holiday season!

Judy Belmont is a psychotherapist, national wellness speaker and self-help author, and her recently released book, “The Swiss Cheese Theory of Life: How To Get Through Life’s Holes Without Getting Stuck In Them!” offers the keys to a resilient life. She also offers books on life skills training for therapists and wellness speakers to use in working with their clients and group participants. Examples of her “hands on” life skills include handling stress effectively, communicating with tact and finesse, and creating a positive workplace. She can be reached at [email protected] and her web site is www.judybelmont.com.

How Men Can Become Better at Online Dating

This post is by Nabil Gulamani of www.successatreach.com.

A few years ago I was really against online dating. I thought that people that had online dating profiles needed to get a life.

However, as I started getting really busy with my sales job, I realized that I wasn’t really spending time on my dating life, and time was just flying. So I created an online dating profile and started connecting with many amazing women.

Dating

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I’ve been active in online dating for almost a year now and it’s been an amazing experience. For all you men out there who want to become better at online dating, I have some helpful tips to share with you on how you can enjoy a more fulfilling dating life.

1. Understand that women are long-term thinkers

Most men never get replies from women they have an interest in because they haven’t taken the time to establish a solid connection with them.

I have asked many women what turns them off about a man, and most of them tell me that most men jump right into asking for their phone numbers. All you men who are messaging women need to understand that women want to establish trust before they’ll feel like giving out their numbers.

So what steps should you take to establish connection with women?

2. Make sure you read a woman’s dating profile before messaging her

Most men will not pay attention to the details of a woman’s profile. Pay attention to what interests a woman and what she has a passion for. If you ask her more questions about her interests, she will be more interested in replying to your messages.

Consistency in communication is important when you’re establishing trust. Most men will give up if a woman doesn’t reply, or they will lose touch with her. Make an effort to stay in touch, and see what the results are.

3. Don’t talk about yourself too much

Many men think that if they start talking about their materialistic possessions, they will attract women instantly. This may be partially true, but the fact is that others can easily tell whether your confidence is authentic or fake.

Instead of running that risk, make a habit of getting to know more about the woman you are having a conversation with. Again, this is a great way to build trust as you get to know someone new.

4. Make sure you’re living a fulfilling lifestyle

When women read your online dating profile, they can easily tell whether you have an exciting life. You will get more replies from the women you reach out to if your profile shows that you are well-rounded and interesting.

Don’t write one-word or one-line descriptions—if you do, your dating profile will be ignored. Put in the effort to explain a little about who you really are, and you’ll be more likely to meet more interesting people.

5. Embrace the challenge

Online dating can be challenging, but if you’re persistent—and you can deal with a little rejection—it will become a fun and exciting experience.

It’s been a great adventure for me so far, because it has helped me move past a lot of my limiting beliefs about women and dating. I’ve also noticed that the more women I get to know, the more I have come to realize what kind of women I like.

What are you waiting for? Go out there and create your online dating profile so you can add some excitement to your dating life! And if you have your own tips to share, let us know in the comments.

Nabil Gulamani is in sales and assists SMBs with their Direct Marketing. During his free time he blogs about Self-Improvement to help people take their lifestyle to a whole new level. You can visit his Self-Improvement blog www.successatreach.com.

Help the Elderly Feel Comfortable in the Cooler Months

This post is by Jocelyn.

With the arrival of Fall, most of us are excited about finally enjoying cooler evenings, spending a Sunday afternoon curled up with a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese in hand, and the long-awaited return of Fall football.

But, for the elderly, Fall isn’t always all warm and fuzzy. In fact, it can often trigger SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and make their lives more difficult all around—even more dangerous. As the weather cools, getting around becomes more difficult and keeping warm and comfortable can become an overwhelming challenge.

Elderly wellbeing

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If you have any elderly loved ones in your life, here are some simple ways to ease the transition, keep their spirits high, and keep them comfortable and safe all season long.

Plan extra activities

One of the primary reasons that the elderly tend to become sad or feel blue around this time is because they can feel more trapped and miss the activities that were so readily available in summer.

You can easily combat this by maintaining constant visits and by planning extra activities with them. Look for indoor options that you can get your loved ones involved in, like indoor walking in the mall with friends, extra game nights, movie dates, pet visits, or even just extra deliveries of their favorite books and movies for those long fall and winter afternoons.

Plan and schedule for winter help

Don’t wait to make plans for who will help your elderly loved ones take care of winter chores. This can make them nervous and worried. Whether it will be yourself or someone you’re hiring, schedule now for basic things like sidewalk shoveling and porch de-icing, and maybe even grocery delivery.

It’s also a good idea to contact a back-up person for help in case your primary help is ever unable to come for any reason.

Organize a heating plan

The elderly can often become very uncomfortable during the fall and winter months because they find it so difficult to maintain their body temperature. And, even worse, according to the American Red Cross, elderly people are at a higher risk for cold injuries and thousands die unnecessarily every year because their homes are too cold.

Plan in advance to ensure that your loved ones can avoid getting cold. A central heating system set to room temperature most likely will not be enough. Rather than increasing the whole central system by the degrees necessary to keep them feeling warm, consider portable heating options. This will allow them to regulate the temperature of just one room much more easily. They can change the entire room temperature rapidly and increase the temperature greatly without having to do so in the entire house.

This not only saves time waiting for that temperature to be met, it also saves tremendous cost. Sitting right next to a heat source is also often more comforting and soothing for older people. An small electric fireplace in a bedroom can be just what they need for heat and comfort.

Stay in constant communication

Don’t let a day go by that you aren’t in contact with your elderly loved ones. You’ll be able to notice instantly if they’re feeling blue or uncomfortable, or just don’t seem like themselves. And, even if they’re feeling and doing great (which we hope for every day!), you’ll still get a conversation that you wouldn’t have had otherwise and every conversation is precious. You’ll feel good, they’ll feel good, and you’ll get to share a little more love every day!

What do you do to make sure the elderly people in your life stay warm and well over the cooler months? Share your tips and experiences with us.

Freelancer Jocelyn is dedicated to helping families live healthier, happier lives. At the moment you’ll find her writing alongside Air & Water, a company that loves to help families find the best heater for the elderly in their lives.

5 Fun Fall Brain-boosters

This post is by Jesse Langley of www.professionalintern.com.

It’s back-to-school time for students, but even if you’re not in school, you can still find new and exciting ways to keep your brain stimulated.

The concept of lifelong learning isn’t new, but it’s a trend that’s gaining popularity. There are benefits to keeping your brain active: studies have shown that, for older people, staying active after retirement can delay dementia.

But no matter what your age, staying active and challenging your brain can lead to better mental and physical health. Consider trying a few activities this fall to keep yourself intellectually stimulated.

1. Be a bookworm

Reading stimulates the brain

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Reading is an activity that takes very little effort, but can provide tons of benefits. The trick is finding books that will challenge you, not reading the latest James Patterson novel (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Try revisiting some of those big, classic novels you had to study in college, or find challenging books you’ve always wanted to read.

You can also expand your worldview and read translated books written by authors from other countries. Reading books written by foreign authors can be one of the best ways to get a glimpse into another culture. Time Magazine’s All-Time 100 Novels list is a great resource for finding novels from a diverse pool of authors.

2. Full-body workout

Intellectual stimulation can be physical too: starting a workout plan and learning how to eat well is a good way to keep your body and your brain healthy. It’s been proven that regular workouts improve brain function by improving blood circulation and regenerating brain cells.

A good diet is also a part of building a strong brain: several foods like blueberries, wild salmon, and avocados are packed with vitamins and healthy fats that the brain needs to stay healthy.

3. Make your dreams come true

This is a good time to revisit some of your childhood dreams, but on a perhaps smaller scale.

If you wanted to be a rock star, learn to play an instrument or how to read music. If you wanted to be an international spy (like I did), you can take classes online or at your local community college to learn a new language. People who can read or speak another language are not only better at multitasking, but the onset of dementia is delayed for them as well.

Finding ways to meet some of your personal goals is an ego booster—feeling good about yourself is good for your brain, too.

4. Meditate on a better brain

Meditation is an ancient practice that’s remained a cornerstone of wellness for many Eastern cultures—and that’s because it works. And recent studies suggest that maintaining a regular meditation schedule can help increase gray matter density in the areas of the brain associated with memory and learning.

Meditation can also encourage you to take a little time out of your day to concentrate on yourself. Even if you don’t perform full-fledged Transcendental Meditation, learning a few proper meditation techniques can help clear the mental fog you might suffer at the end of a long day.

5. Get some sleep

This might seem like a no-brainer (pun intended), but sleep is critical to good brain function. Remember that your brain is an organ, and it needs rest and time to regenerate, just like every other part of your body.

The effects of sleep deprivation can range from the annoying to the alarming: people who consistently get less sleep than their bodies need can increase their risk for illnesses like heart disease, stroke and obesity. This activity doesn’t require much effort from you, other than getting to bed at a decent time each night, but the benefits will boost your brain’s ability to work properly.

As the weather turns chilly, it’s tempting to bundle up and stay inside. But learning new things, trying new activities, and paying attention to your body-brain connection can help keep you and your brain at their best.

Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing and family life. He has a keen interest in blogging and social media and is an advocate for online training. He also writes for www.professionalintern.com.

Why I Love … Photographing Kids

This post is by Rachel Devine of Sesame Ellis photography.

I’m a professional photographer who works with kids, and I have three of my own that I photograph frequently. So I’ve taken a lot of shots of kids over the years.

Yet one photo in particular has hung framed on a wall in every home I have lived in since 1997. It is an image I took on the same day that we had our professional family portrait taken.

kids

My niece and nephew (Image copyright Rachel Devine)

I did not have my camera out while the hired photographer was working, but later that night I wanted to take a few shots of my niece and nephew.

The littlest member of our big family, my niece, always seemed to take center stage, so I decided to capture an image of her standing on the coffee table just before she was told to get down. As my flash lit up the scene, it revealed her older brother in the background, haphazardly standing on his head on the couch.

To some, his crazy disruption could be seen as ruining the shot, but this is what has made the shot so memorable and special. Even in black and white, I can tell that they are in the ‘sweater and pants combination’ we as a family wore on that important portrait day.

When I look back at our professional portrait, my nephew Ian sits quietly for the camera and Kellan’s ever present pile of stuffed animal security objects are nowhere to be seen.

However, when I look up at the photograph I took that day, I can clearly remember the children that they really were and I can see the beginnings of the adults they have since grown to be.

Child photography is more than tack sharp eyes and big smiles; it is made of memories and true personality. Children change daily. As a mother, I know those mornings when the children have grown and changed overnight. And I’m glad I can use photography to capture those moments.

Do you have some great photographs of the kids in your life? Tell us about them in the comments.

Rachel Devine owns Sesame Ellis photography and shoots commercially in the children’s industry—as well as photographing her own three kids on a daily basis. Her ebook Click! How to Take Gorgeous Photos of Your Kids was recently released on Digital Photography School, and her book on photographing life will be released on Amphoto/Random House in 2012.

5 Fast Tips for At-home Parents

This guest post is by Crystal of CounselorMom.

Being a parent is hard work. Parenting comes with the wonderful challenges that all of us parents know too well. Some parents make the decision to work from home, which can be rewarding in itself. However, after some time, working from home can become a little stressful if the kids are home during those hours (like me writing this post right now).

Family at home

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Parenting is a full-time job in itself; try to complete work projects on top of that, and it becomes a bit more stressful. Here are five tips to help out the work-at-home mom or dad.

Go outside

Feeling the sun on your face can make a world of a difference. Take the kids outside and let them play a bit. This will wear them out, so when it’s time to go inside they will probably be quiet.

Organize your day

Treat your job working from home like you would a job outside of the house. If you can, try to schedule the times you plan to work around your child’s nap or quiet time. If you don’t have a choice in what time you work, try to find activities for the kids ahead of time so you can concentrate and focus when it’s time to work.

Get dressed when the kids get dressed

Take a shower in the morning and get dressed like you would if worked outside of the house. This will help get you in the working mood. Get the kids ready also even if you don’t plan to go anywhere. This will save time if you decide to go out later.

Stop socializing

If social networks are not part of your job, then don’t use them during work hours. Don’t check your personal email, Facebook, Twitter, or browse CNN while working. This really does take up a lot of wasted time especially when at any minute your children might need you. So put your time to good use while the kids are sane and work instead of socializing.

Find a mother’s or father’s helper

Find a babysitter, local preschool, or family member to watch the children a few hours a week while you work. This will help give you some breathing space.

Do you have any tips to offer the parents who work from home?

Crystal is a stay at home mom with a master’s degree in school counseling. She is a blogger at CounselorMom where she discusses parenting issues and household tips.

Take the Stress Out of Your Small Business—Today

Stress isn’t always bad.

A certain level of stress gets you up for the game. It keeps you excited, keeps you on the edge, and keeps you hungry. But if you’re bathed in this amount of stress constantly, you don’t have enough recovery time. Your immune system will be weakened so you may get sick more often.

How much stress is “too much”?

We all have different tolerances for our ability to deal with different levels of stress. We need to be self-aware so that we can monitor how we’re doing.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story about boiling a frog. If you put a frog in a pot of warm water and gradually raise the temperature, the frog won’t hop out—it’ll stay there as the water reaches boiling point.

Small business

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Your small business is like that pot. The “temperature” gradually rises—perhaps you feel overworked or you’re pulled in lots of different directions. Are you monitoring the temperature of your business?

You don’t necessarily have to work fewer hours. Some people work 14 hour days and love it; others work seven hours and hate it because they’re in a toxic environment.

You have the opportunity to design your environment. That means asking yourself:

  • What do I want to do more of?
  • What do I want to do less of?
  • What do I want to start doing?
  • What do I want to stop doing?

You can tweak all the different elements of your business (and personal life). Perhaps you want:

  • More rest, more recovery, more collaborative relationships—or just more fun!
  • Less stress, and fewer toxic people.

Aim to start things that will recharge your batteries and fulfill your vision.

Stop doing things that no longer serve a purpose—remove them completely from your life. They might have been there for a very long time, but that doesn’t mean they need to stay forever.

How does your small business fit into your life?

We all need to make conscious decisions in the different domains of our lives.

Having a small business is one big part of your life—but you also have family, relationships, and health matters to juggle.

How many balls can you keep up in the air? Are they the right balls for you?

When do things get too stressful? When do balls start falling? What balls should you drop?

Strategies for avoiding and managing stress

#1: Say “no” more often

Saying “no” and stopping certain things gives us the freedom and flexibility to say “yes” to other things that are more fulfilling for us. This is fundamental to avoiding stress.

If you went to a buffet and sampled food that you didn’t like, you wouldn’t put it on your plate again. Yet in life, we allow things—events, people, other circumstances—to stay in our world, even though we dislike them.

#2: Stop doing so much

For many of us, the hardest thing is to stop doing so much.

We pile more and more onto our plates, instead of looking at what to remove. In a small business, you have many different roles so it’s easy to create an endless list of tasks. Try setting boundaries on your work day so that you get enough down-time.

#3: Find ways to relieve stress

There are lots of different ways to de-stress. You might try deep breathing, exercise, walking in nature, mediation, yoga, talking with a friend, or taking a bath.

Some people like to come home, work out, and take a shower—they wash the day away.

Others like to play with their kids, or with a pet—they change their focus, and so the cares of the day go away.

Taking frequent breaks throughout the day, or having a power-nap or a brief walk in the sunshine, can also help. If you’re running your own business, then you have the freedom to arrange your day to suit you.

Cleaning up clutter can also be very helpful: getting the car washed, having your hair cut, rearranging a file—anything that gets you back in control.

But unless you’re aware that you’re under stress, and that you have options, then it’s impossible to deal with it.

What steps could you take, today, to reduce stress in your own life and business?

Barry Demp is a highly-skilled Michigan Business and Personal coach, working with small business owners, executives and other professionals. He has a free ebook Time Management Strategies and Tactics: A Workbook available on his website, and he blogs regularly about self-improvement.

Map Your Path to Nirvana

This post is by Sarah Wagner Yost of sarahwagneryost.com.

The body is the clearest way there. It processes information much more quickly than the brain does. Because the body never lies, it is the most reliable divining rod we have. By listening to the yes/no signals bodies regularly dispense, you can get simple and trustworthy messages about how to manage your time, easily tell if your spouse is lying, and even know what and when to eat.

You don’t have to do yoga to get the message

In touch

Image by Randy Son of Robert, licensed under Creative Commons

Even if you feel more like a floating head than an integrated body whisperer, you can easily tune into what your body has to say. This exercise will demonstrate how clearly the body communicates.

Imagine doing something you really don’t like doing. Let that grow large in your imagination. Now, notice what you feel in your body. What do you feel in your chest? How about your stomach? Do you feel contracted or expanded? Can you tell if your energy feels fluid, heavy or spiky?

This is the way your body communicates to you that something doesn’t work for you. Martha Beck calls this state “Shackles on.”

Now, imagine someone for whom it’s very easy for you to love. Let that thought grow large in your imagination. Now, notice what you feel in your body. What do you feel in your chest? How about your stomach? Do you feel contracted or expanded? Can you tell if your energy feels fluid, heavy or spiky?

This is the way your body communicates to you that something does work for you. Martha Beck calls this state “Shackles off.”

Your to-do list

Consider several things you have to do over the next couple of days. Think about each item and notice if it feels contracted or expanded. If it feels contracted, don’t do it. Either scratch it off the list, change your thinking about it or ask someone else to do it.

Lie detector

Have you ever just known someone wasn’t telling you the truth but couldn’t prove it? Maybe there was no reason to believe they would lie because either the lie didn’t matter or they were generally trustworthy. Yet, you knew something wasn’t right. That’s because your body was processing subtle, quick signals from them that they weren’t being honest. Your brain didn’t believe it, but the body never lies. So, when your body contracted in the presence of their lie, it was signaling to you that you weren’t hearing the truth.

Diet

Try the body test with the food you eat. Next time you want to eat ice cream, notice if your body feels contracted or expanded at the idea of it. Do the same thing with traditionally “good” foods like fruits or vegetables. Notice how your body responds.

Have you ever listened to your body before? What has it directed you to do? Share your experience in the comments. I’d love to read them.

Sarah Wagner Yost is a mind-body life coach. She runs the Shiny Object School. If bright, shiny objects get in the way of getting your things finished, she can help. You can find her at www.sarahwagneryost.com. Working with her is better than Valium. Get her weekly action item to feel better fast here, friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.