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My 4 Non-Negotiables For Keeping My Travels Safe & Affordable

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When I was 18, I made a promise to myself that the second I got a car of my own that didn’t have the potential of breaking down at any point in time, I would start taking road trips. The United States is chock full of every type of scenery and attraction you can imagine, […]

The post My 4 Non-Negotiables For Keeping My Travels Safe & Affordable appeared first on The Financial Diet.

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4 days ago
Great tips for traveling.
Columbus, Indiana
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What’s your why? How to write a personal mission statement

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What do you want out of life?

Maybe that seems like a strange question. What do goals have to do with getting rich slowly? Everything! Having a personal mission is key to running your life like a business. Your goals help you decide how to spend your time and money.

When I think about the difference between people with purpose and people without, I always think of my friend Paul.

Paul in the Snow

Twenty years ago, as I was swimming in self-induced debt, Paul was living a bare-bones lifestyle that seemed ridiculous to me. He didn’t own a television. He had few books and little furniture. His only indulgence seemed to be a collection of bootleg U2 albums.

“How can you live like this?” I asked him during one visit. “Where’s all of your Stuff?”

He shrugged. “I don’t need a lot of Stuff, J.D. Stuff isn’t important. It gets in the way of the things I really want.”

I didn’t know what he meant. To me, life was all about the Stuff. I had hundreds of CDs and thousands of books. I had a TV, a stereo, a house, and a car. I wanted more.

Paul didn’t have any of these, but he had things I didn’t have. He had happiness. He had freedom. He had money. He had goals.

A Man with a Plan

At the time, I earned at least twice Paul’s income, but he had money in the bank while I had none. I couldn’t see the connection between Paul’s choices and his financial success, and I couldn’t see the connection between my spending and my mounting debt. I was blind.

One day, Paul and I went for a hike. As we walked, he told me what he’d been up to. He was living in a small town in northern Washington, working two full-time jobs and a part-time job. He got free rent in exchange for housesitting with an elderly homeowner. “I’ve only had five or six days off in the past eight months,” Paul told me.

“That’s insane!” I said. “Why would you do that to yourself?”

Paul smiled. “I have a plan,” he said. “I want see the world. I’m going to buy a one-way ticket to Thailand. I’m just going to go. I’ll travel for as long as my money holds out. The more I work, the longer I’ll be able to stay on the road.”

I heard what he was saying, but I didn’t really understand.

“Do you want to come with me?” Paul asked. Of course I did, but I couldn’t. I was in debt. I had no savings. I couldn’t afford to leave work for a few days, let alone a few months. How would I pay for all of my Stuff?

Paul went on his trip. He backpacked across Europe and Asia, and he loved it. He sent me postcards from Thailand and India, from Nepal and Israel and Jordan. He was gone for five months. Then, because he’d built his life around this goal, he returned to a financial position similar to the one he’d left.

Back in Oregon, Paul settled down to a more “normal” way of life. He got a real job. He even bought a house. Still he pinched his pennies, spending only on the things that mattered most to him. In time, I began to see the connection between his lifestyle and his quiet wealth.

Here’s what Paul taught me: Have a plan so amazing, so glowing, that you’re willing to walk blurry-eyed to work every day to make the money necessary to achieve it.

Paul on the Beach

What’s Your Why?

What do you want out of life?

Too many people never take the time to answer this question. And of those who do answer it, a large number have only nebulous dreams and goals. I want you to do more. Today, I want you to create a personal mission statement.

To complete this exercise — which is based on the work of Alan Lakein — you’ll need about an hour of uninterrupted time. You’ll also need a pen, some paper, and some sort of stopwatch. When you’re ready, I want you to do the following.

Note: To make things easier, I’ve created a free PDF version of this project for you to download and print: Your Personal Mission Statement. It’s still branded for Money Boss, but we’ll change that once we have an official logo for Get Rich Slowly.

  1. At the top of a blank page, write this question: What are my lifetime goals? For five minutes, list whatever comes to mind. Imagine you don’t have to worry about money, now or in the future. What would you do with the rest of your life? Don’t filter yourself. Fill the entire page, if you can. When you’re finished, spend an additional five minutes reviewing these goals. Make any changes or additions you see fit. Before moving on, note the three goals that seem most important to you.
  2. On a new piece of paper, write: How would I like to spend the next five years? Spend five minutes answering this question. Be honest. Don’t list what you will do or should do, but what you’d like to do. Suspend judgment. When your time is up, again spend five minutes reviewing and editing your answers. As before, highlight the three goals that most appeal to you.
  3. Start a page with the question: How would I live if I knew I’d be dead in six months? Imagine that your doctor says you’ve contracted a new disease that won’t compromise your health now, but which will suddenly strike you dead in exactly six months. There is no cure. How would you spend the time you have left? What would you regret not having done? You know the drill: Take five minutes to brainstorm as many answers as possible, then five minutes to go back through and consider your responses. When you’re ready, indicate the three things that matter most to you.
  4. At the top of a fourth piece of paper, write: My Most Important Goals. Below that, copy over the goals you marked as most important from answering each of the three questions. (If any answers are similar, combine them into one. For instance, if “write a novel” was one of your top answers to the first question and “writing fiction” was a top answer to the second, you’d merge these into a single goal.)
  5. The final step requires a bit of creativity. Label a fifth piece of paper My Mission. Look through your list of most important goals. Does one stand out from the others? Can you see a common thread that connects some (or all) of the goals? Using your list as a starting point, draft a Mission Statement. Your Mission Statement should be short — but not too short. It might be anywhere from a few words to a few sentences. Take as much time as you need to make this the best, most compelling paragraph you can write.

When you’ve finished, I want you to set aside your Mission Statement and walk away. Go about the rest of your life for a few days. Don’t forget about your mission, but keep it in the back of your mind.

Your Personal Mission Statement

After you’ve had time to stew on things, sit down and review what you’ve written. How does your Mission Statement make you feel? Can you improve upon it? You want a vision to give you a sense of purpose that drives you day-in and day-out, through good times and bad. Ideally, your mission will do for you what my friend Paul’s did for him. It’ll be so amazing, so glowing that you’re willing to walk blurry-eyed to work each morning to make the money necessary to reach your goal.

Note: Your Mission Statement isn’t permanent. As your priorities and tastes change, and as new opportunities present themselves, your mission will adapt and grow.

What does an actual Mission Statement look like? Good question! Here are personal mission statements from five famous CEOs. And here’s mine:

I want to be the best person I can be, both mentally and physically. I want to sample all that the world has to offer by fostering new relationships, exploring new ideas, and daring to try new things. I want to use my skills and experience to improve the lives of others while also improving my own.

Sound boring? Not to me! I wrote this mission statement more than five years ago, and it still guides me today. When I set personal goals, I base them on this mission statement. When I make decisions about where to live and what to do with my life, I use this mission statement to guide me. Bottom line: This mission statement shapes the way I manage my money and my life.

After you’ve created a Mission Statement, the next step — if you’re ready to take it — is to brainstorm a list of Next Actions to support your Mission Statement. What kinds of things can you do to help you achieve this goal or pursue this mission? Write down anything that comes to mind.

When you have your list of Next Actions, pick the three you can do most quickly (these should become your short-term goals) and the three that would have the biggest impact on your life (these should become your long-term goals). Focus on these six goals!

What if you’re still having trouble coming up with a mission? Don’t give up. Try a different approach. Head to your public library and borrow one of the following books, each of which has great info about figuring out what to do with your life:

If, after all this, you still need more help creating your Mission Statement, take a few minutes to walk through the Mission Statement Builder from FranklinCovey. It’s a free online tool that translates your goals and values into a statement of purpose.

Note: During the month of March, I’m migrating old Money Boss material to Get Rich Slowly — including the articles that describe the “Money Boss method”. This is the third of those articles.

Look for further installments in the “Money Boss method” series twice a week until they’ve all been transferred from the old site.

The post What’s your why? How to write a personal mission statement appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

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6 days ago
Make sure you read the 5 Missions Statements from CEOs
Columbus, Indiana
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Life expectancy: The most important variable in retirement planning

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When I write about retirement and retirement planning, I frequently mention that I aim for my savings and investments to last another thirty years. So, for instance, when I use retirement calculators to determine how long my nest egg will last, I use 78 as my projected age of death. Several readers have written to ask how I arrived at this number.

For example, Richard wrote:

I’m wondering why you’re only projecting out 30 years. You’re only 48. I’m 54 (and retired) and, in my projections and calculations, I go out 40 years. I probably don’t need to plan out that far, but you never know. My last surviving grandparent died just a couple years ago at age 99.

This is a great question. In fact, I believe life expectancy is the most critical factor in determining how much money you need to save — and how much you can spend. Unfortunately, it’s also the variable that’s most difficult to calculate with any kind of precision.

Why Is Life Expectancy So Important?

When the mainstream media publishes an article about early retirement, the comments are filled with folks who say things like, “These people are cheap. I could never live like that. Besides, what if they drop dead tomorrow? Then what good is all of that money? YOLO!”

On the other hand, early retirement forums are filled with people who go to the opposite extreme. “OMG! I can’t believe you’re only expecting to live until age 90. What about modern medicine? What about gene therapy? What if you live to 108? Boy, then you’re going to be sorry you didn’t save more!”

Both sides make valid points.

  • If your assumptions about life expectancy are too optimistic, you risk not making the most of the money you’ve saved. If you budget as though you were going to live to 95 but end up dead by 65, you’ll have a lot of money that essentially goes to waste — money you might have used to do the things you’d always dreamed of doing.
  • If your assumptions about life expectancy are too pessimistic, you risk running out of money. If you make choices based on the idea that you’ll die at age 65, for example, but live until 95, you’ll end up broke. You’ll spend decades eating beans and rice.

Here’s the bottom line: If you knew when you were going to die, you could calculate how much money you’d need to get from now to then.

Pretend that next week Elon Musk announced he’d developed the Methuselah, a machine that can tell users the precise date and time of their death. It’s 100% accurate and somehow can even account for accidental death. When the Methuselah comes on the market, you try it just for kicks. It tells you that you’ll die on 06 November 2034. You have about seventeen years left to live.

Based on that information, you’d be able to calculate with great precision how much money you’d need in order to make it to your date of death. You’d know whether you need to continue working or could call it quits right now. You’d know whether you had enough saved to travel the world in luxury or if you needed to live a more meager existence.

Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on your point of view — there isn’t a way to tell with any precision how much longer you have to live. Elon Musk hasn’t developed the Methuselah machine. (Yet.) All you can do is make an educated guess.

How to Determine Life Expectancy

One basic way to estimate your time remaining is to consult an actuarial life table. The U.S. Social Security Administration, for instance, has a basic period life table that shows how much time the average person has left to live based on their current age. A 48-year-old man like me can expect to live another 31.32 years — until I’m 79.

Life Expectancy (Actuarial Table)

My cohorts and I each have a 0.4167% chance of dying this year. Of 100,000 of us born in 1969, 93,759 are still alive.

But actuarial tables apply to entire populations. They don’t take into account our individual habits and genetic predispositions. For a more customized guess at your date of death, you can consult one of the many online life expectancy calculators. To one degree or another, these tools take into account variables like diet, exercise, and family history.

Here are three online life expectancy calculators that I’ve tried and liked:

  • The Abaris How Long Will I Live? calculator uses data from the AARP and the National Institute of Health. It asks some basic questions about your health habits to generate a personal profile and estimated life expectancy. According to this tool, I can expect to live until 86.
Life Expectancy (Input Data)   Life Expectancy (Results)

  • I’m a long-time fan of the Living to 100 life expectancy calculator. This tool is cool because it takes into account a wide range of factors, then provides specific recommendations for how you can increase your expected lifespan. The downside? To get the most from this calculator, you have to register for an account. Living to 100 says that I will probably live until age 82. (Unsurprisingly, I can add tons more time to my life expectancy by improving my diet and fitness — and reducing my alcohol intake.)
  • The John Hancock life expectancy calculator is short and to the point. Plus, it makes adjustments in real time so that you can see how different factors influence the projections. I could boost my own life expectancy by seven years if I were to drink less beer and wine. This tool shows I should live until age 81.

Based on these life expectancy calculators, I can expect to live until my early eighties. If I lost a little weight, ate more vegetables, and reduced my alcohol intake, my life expectancy would jump by almost a decade! Hmmm….

I’m sure there are other good life expectancy calculators out there. If you know of one, please share it in the comments.

My Own Life

If the life expectancy calculators show me living until 81 or 82 or 86, then why do I use 78 as my projected age of death?

The truth is I’m more pessimistic than that. The truth is that when I give presentations, I often use a date much nearer on the horizon: 04 July 2019. That’s right: There’s a part of me that thinks I’ll be dead in about a year. I’m not joking.

I don’t mean to be morbid, but I can’t help it. You see, the men in my father’s family tend to be short-lived. My dad died of cancer ten days before his fiftieth birthday. His brother died of cancer at age 52. My cousin died of cancer at age 46. My grandmother died of cancer in her early seventies. I have another cousin — one of my best friends, actually — who turns 54 today. He too is fighting cancer. (Thankfully, he seems to be winning the fight.)

With a health history like this, I get nervous. I plan for the worst.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve been so eager to travel while I’m still relatively young. I’m afraid that if I don’t visit Europe, if I don’t take an RV trip across the U.S., if I don’t spend time in South America, then I won’t ever get the chance.

Still, I recognize that my situation is different than that of my family members who fell to cancer. For one, I’m healthier. I eat better and exercise more. (That’s not to say that I couldn’t do more. I absolutely could.) Plus, I have better access to health care. Maybe most important of all, I’m aware and vigilant of potential problems. (I get a colonoscopy every five years, for example.)

I also recognize that my mother’s family has completely different longevity stats than my father’s family. People on my mother’s side live a long time.

Based on all of this, I hold two separate, contradictory ideas in my head when I make projections about my future. On the one hand, I always ask myself what my best option would be if I knew I were going to die in a couple of years. On the other hand, I also explore options based what might happen if I were to reach my projected life expectancy of 78. (I never project beyond that, though.)

What about you? When you plan for the future, how do you decide how long you’ll live? How does that affect your decisions? Are you worried about saving so much that you’re unable to enjoy today? Are you worried about spending so much that you won’t have enough set aside when you’re older? How do you account for life expectancy in retirement planning?

The post Life expectancy: The most important variable in retirement planning appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

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12 days ago
Life Expectancy Calculator
Columbus, Indiana
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Battling Food & Weight: Telling My Story for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

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It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. This year’s theme?

Let’s Get Real. So here’s my story. 

On a trip to Hawaii, 16 years ago, I had the word ‘Afatasi’ tattooed on my back. It means halfe-caste in Samoan because I’m half Samoan. It’s the most “tropical” thing I did. I was too busy obsessing over food and carbs to enjoy paradise; 10 macadamia nuts = 4 carbs.

Once, we were warriors

The Samoan islands are in the South Pacific. American Samoa is a U.S. territory. Not too long ago, Samoans lived off the land and sea, spearheading fish, tending to village-sized gardens, and canoeing between islands. We were fit, lean, and strong. Some of us still are.

Samoans are known for their athleticism. We have one of the world’s most mesomorphic (muscular) body types. Muscle bulk, especially in the lower body, makes us successful at football and rugby. It’s been said a Samoan male is 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than a non-Samoan male.

Now, we’re obese with health problems

Samoans also store more fat than non-Samoans. Ancestral evolution in cold climates led Polynesians to develop large bodies and retain weight. That extra weight isn’t needed today, but our ‘fat predisposition’ remains. Drop one McDonalds and one KFC on American Samoa, increased sedentary time, and – BAM – Samoans have one of the highest obesity rates in the world.

The timeline

The obesity problem in Samoa starts at birth. Babies gain weight 20 percent faster than babies in the U.S. mainland. By 15 months, nearly 4 in 10 toddlers are overweight or obese.

This continues into adulthood. Six in 10 Samoan adults are obese. Obesity underlies 1 in 3 having type 2 diabetesSamoan women are also at high risk of polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.

Becoming a statistic 

At 20 years old, I was diagnosed with PCOS. My Polynesian dancer physique gained 30 lbs. My long hair fell out. I grew facial hair, and couldn’t find an effective deodorant to save my life. I battled excessive sweating, acne, fatigue, and moodiness.

My three prescriptions didn’t kick in fast enough, so I turned to Yahoo search. Forums said eat less carbs, exercise, lower your stress, and lose weight. Driven by fear, I went balls out.

I took my meds. Cut out carbs. Exercised daily. In two months, I lost 20 lbs. Symptoms continued, so I lost 10 more.

Weight loss: a blessing and a curse

I got down to a “normal weight.” My blood work was normal too. My PCOS symptoms disappeared. But, I lost 10 more lbs. Then, 10 more lbs. And even then, 10 more.

In 6 months, my 5’8” frame went from 160 to 105 lbs, and a size 10 to a size 0. I obsessed over food. Feared it. Counted every carb, restricted food portions, and weighed in every day. I exerted control over my body to cope with the unknown physical and psychological harm it would bring me.

A second diagnosis: Anorexia

One year into my Ph.D. program, a psychiatrist recommended inpatient eating disorder treatment. I’d have to quit school.

Not an option.

I bootstrapped a band-aid solution that didn’t work. I tried more band-aids. They didn’t work either.

My obsession with food and weight continued. At 26 years old, I was a post-doc by day, degree-seeking student by night, and a part-time employee with an active social life. My eating disorder made sure I could barely function. I wasn’t living. I was barely surviving.

It came to a head when low blood sugar landed me in the ER. The ER doctor, who was a trusted friend and colleague, handed me orange juice, but I was too afraid to drink it.

I hit rock bottom. I needed help.

eatingdisorder-diabetesTurn the focus away from food and onto life

I found The Awakening Center, and spent two years in outpatient treatment. Tons of therapy – art, individual, group, family – taught me how to quiet the eating disorder and listen to life again.

Time, patience and a lot of hard work shifted my attention to people, relationships, and work, quieting my preoccupation with food and restricting what I ate. I achieved a healthy weight and stopped taking medication for PCOS. Aside from two pregnancies, I’ve weighed the same for 10 years.

Today, I fight with you

It’s been 17 years since my PCOS diagnosis and 16 years with the word ‘Afatasi’ tattooed on my back. Both my tattoo and health issues have faded.

I sometimes forget I have a tattoo or that I’ve been to hell and back with my health. Then, I catch a glimpse of my tattoo in the mirror. Or, write this blog post, and realize I’ve worn the same size clothes for 10 years and haven’t taken Metformin in 6 years. Instantly, I’m proud of my Samoan heritage, and my health. I am reminded of the privilege it is to help others with PCOS, pre-diabetes, and diabetes.

Many of us have co-occuring issues with food, our weight, or diagnosed eating disorders. I’ve come out the other end. With One Drop, I want to help you get there.

We’re in this, together.

The post Battling Food & Weight: Telling My Story for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week appeared first on One Drop: Diabetes Management Made Simple.

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12 days ago
There is some line between weight control, and out of control. Being in control of our weight can lead to an uncontrolled obsession on weight. We need to be vigilant.
Columbus, Indiana
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What is sugar? 🍯 (And do we need it?!)

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The short answer: No. 🙅‍♂️

But there’s more to this sugar saga.

We love talking about carbs here at One Drop. It is, after all, carbs. But did you know that carbs and sugars are one in the same? They are deeply intertwined, right down to their chemical makeup. Sugars, in fact, are carbohydrates; every carbohydrate we eat eventually breaks down into sugar. So in the spirit of staying on topic, let’s talk sugar.

The Science of Sugar ⚗

There are about 60 different types of sugars. 😱 The first type of sugar that comes to mind for most is the white, crystalized version added to cakes, pastries, lollipops, key lime pies, and every other sweet treat. This is what’s commonly known as table sugar. And it’s become very good at hiding itself everywhere. (Tap this image for a full list!)

The Glucose Cycle 🐮

If you have diabetes, like me, you know that glucose is necessary to live. We check for amounts of it in our bloodstream every day. And it’s not just us humans who are dependent on glucose — all forms of life, right down to algae, need it to survive. But did you know that you can get glucose from kale? That it can be obtained through just about any vegetable? Even protein and fat sources? Here’s how.

Eat food – any food – and it will turn into glucose. This is true even for green veggies! For example: Cows eat grass. The grass, which creates its own glucose through photosynthesis, enters the cow’s body as cellulose; the cow’s stomach breaks down the cellulose into glucose. This gives the cow the energy it needs to survive and provide for others. Some of that glucose trickles into the milk, produced by the cow, that we drink. It’s the circle of life. Or, rather, glucose. A similar process happens with just about everything we eat.

(Now, that’s 👆 a rather limited scientific explanation, but I’m hoping to spare you the trouble of a much lengthier article.)

Glucose, the most natural of all sugars, is absolutely vital to life. We, people with diabetes, know this to a tee; if our blood glucose (the glucose levels in our blood) go too low, we die. In that regard, we do need sugar. Glucose, to be exact.

We do not, however, need other forms of sugar. And we don’t need to eat sugar to get glucose at all.

We do NOT need to eat sugar. Ever.

So why do doctors, nutritionists, and just about everyone keep telling us otherwise? Why are we told that sugars are an essential part of our diet? Because they’re easy. Sugars (carbohydrates) are the first energy source the body goes to: they are much faster to break down into energy than their protein and fat counterparts. And, at the end of the day, we eat for energy. We need energy. Therefore, we need to eat. And it’s sugars (carbs!) that are the preferred fuel source for cells in our body. Why? Because they are so quick to break down into that energy our cells so desperately crave.

Sugar Fix? Indeed.

To a degree, we do need that sugar, that glucose. But, as we saw with our cow, people can get their sugar fix from just about… anything. What we have been taught over the last 70 years, however, is that we need to be getting our sugar fix from a different kind of sugar: fructose.

Fructose: Need To Know Basics

Fructose, a simple sugar like glucose, is naturally found in fruits. Unlike glucose, though, fructose is not the body’s preferred energy source. It is exclusively metabolized by the liver. Meaning that unlike glucose, which can be broken down and used for energy by every cell in the body, fructose is limited – it can only be used by the liver. It’s fructose that is at the core of every processed food, refined starch, and added sugar. This — fructose, added sugar, refined sugar, refined starch, processed — is what I mean by “sugar.” And we do not need it. At all. Ever.

Man cannot and should not live on bread alone.

Sugar, in the way that most of the world understands it today, is not necessary for survival. Because much of the world understands sugars — breads, pastas, wraps, grains — as carbohydrates. And carbohydrates, we’re told, are a necessary source of nutrition. But it’s just not true. Anything man-made is not necessary for our diets. Take it from Dr. Mark Hyman: “Bread is a treat.”

Instead, we should look to vegetables, fats, and proteins for our “sugar” intake.

At the end of the day, the need for sugar (glucose, in this sense) arises from the need for energy. And we can easily get energy from vegetables. Meats. Dairy products. Seeds. Bottom line: if it isn’t nature-made, we don’t need it. It really is that simple.

The Footnote

Those of us living and breathing diabetes have a bit of an asterisk to all of this. That asterisk points to our low blood sugars. And when we go low, we need sugar. Fast. In which case, fructose and other sugars like it are life-saving. As mentioned above, these sugars break down uber fast! And hit our bloodstream hard with the glucose we need. But, beyond our lows, and in the broader scope of mankind, sugar, in its westernized, processed, table version we have come to know it, is completely and utterly unnecessary for our survival.

The post What is sugar? 🍯 (And do we need it?!) appeared first on One Drop: Diabetes Management Made Simple.

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12 days ago
No sugar needed
Columbus, Indiana
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3 ways to rethink your workweek

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Illustration for post on rethinking your workweek
Illustration by Gabrielle Matte

You and your work spend a lot of time together. Over the years, you may have started to take each other for granted. Does your workweek feel like the ‘ole ball and chain? Would you rather it be the launch pad for your best self and life?

When your workweek is structured to focus your creative energy on the right work at the right time, you’ll stay energized and effective. These three steps can help take you there.

1. Align work with your goals

When you know what you want from your entire career, or for the next year, you can break it down to intermediate goals. Then take the small and strategic steps that take you there. Author Jack Canfield compares this practice to driving with your headlights on in the dark. Though you can only see a few feet in front of you at a time, you can reach any destination, eventually.

Let’s say your lifetime goal is to become the CFO of a Fortune 500 company. And right now, you’re working as a bank teller. Maybe your three big goals goal for the next year are to earn your branch’s service award, get promoted to supervisor, and enroll in a CPA program. Break these down to three key goals for the next week. Then break these down further into your top three goals for each day of the week. Meet these goals, and repeat.

A digital task management system such as Trello, or even a basic paper planner, can help you execute on your goals and track your progress. Use whatever tools make it easiest for you to plot out your trajectory. Then pay close attention to your progress toward your big-picture goals, celebrating every milestone along the way.

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2. Batch tasks and time purposefully

Because it takes an estimated 25 minutes to return to an interrupted task or start a new one, batching work lets you get in a groove and stay there. To minimize transition friction, consider doing one type of task for a long period of time—such as writing a month’s worth of blog posts in one sitting, instead of just one.

You could also try organizing and batching work by “public”, “private”, or “personal” focus. “Public” or customer-facing tasks, such as meetings, calls and presentations take a certain kind of extroversion energy. “Private” tasks such as writing, thinking, and planning generally require deep and uninterrupted focus. And “personal” time outside of work is for resting and replenishing.

Being intentional about which type of work (or play) you are doing can help you discover ways to make the best use of your power hours. The early bird is credited with getting the worm, but night owls can hunt in the dark. The trick is to know and own your superpower, in service to your success. Whether you are most creative or interpersonally dynamic or strategic as the sun rises or by moonlight or when the rest of your team is in their late afternoon slump, try to align the right type of work with your optimal biorhythm.

Or perhaps dedicating a full day every week to internal or external work lets you sink in enough to get a meaningful foothold. Even being strategic about your personal time—by entirely disengaging mind and body from work—can make a huge difference in your capacity to reenter at full velocity.

Block time on the calendar that belongs to each type of output or input, and structure your workweek accordingly. Notice which rhythms are moving you forward or holding you back. Then course correct as you go.

3. Get in the flow and stay there

The best way to limit decision fatigue and stay on-purpose is with rituals and routines to start, manage, and complete your days and weeks.

Experts often advise that you start the day with the hardest task, because it gives you a sense of accomplishment right out of the gate. But I like to start each day with the most delightful task (a five-minute free write), because it sets the frame of “satisfaction” for my workday. You may benefit from crunching numbers, responding to email, making client calls, or eating a scone to start each workday. Experiment to see what puts you in your power center, ready for the adventure ahead.

Then, once you’ve landed squarely in “the zone,” stay there by minimizing distraction. If you’re in “private” work mode, make yourself physically and digitally unavailable, so no one and nothing else can interrupt you. Use sound-canceling headphones or music to eliminate background noise. And if you tend to get sucked into the social media vortex, consider an app like Freedom to keep you offline for set periods of time. When in “public” mode, a full day of meetings or presentations could help sustain high energy.

A ritual to complete each workday and workweek can help you digest your successes, reflect on how you’ll improve, and determine what’s next. One way to do this is by revisiting your three key goals, then setting fresh expectations for the next day or week.

When your goals are clear, and your time and energy are in alignment, your creativity will have an ideal habitat in which to flourish. Keep exploring until you find a way to bring your best self and work forward. Your ideal workweek will evolve as you leverage the rhythms and practices that give you liftoff.

Sage Cohen is the author of Fierce on the Page, The Productive Writer, Writing the Life Poetic, and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. Since founding Sage Cohen Global in 1997, she’s been developing communication, education, and empowerment solutions that help people and businesses change the conversation.

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25 days ago
Great ways to stay engaged.
Columbus, Indiana
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