Sunday, November 30, 2008

What Advice Would You Give Your Future Self?

Have you ever wondered what you would tell your “past self” – perhaps five or ten years ago - if you had the opportunity? Common examples are things like:

  • Take better care of your teeth.
  • Don’t start a relationship with…
  • Change your major to…
  • Eat less junk/exercise more.
  • Don’t flunk your exams.
  • Don't take that job with...
Instead of getting you to think about the past and dredge up all those regrets and might-have-beens, I’m going to give you a more positive spin on this idea. I want you to imagine yourself, five years in the future – then write a letter to yourself as you are today. You can just think this through, but it’s much more powerful to write it down.

Here are some areas where your future-self may need to have a firm word with your present-self:

Can you see yourself in the same career in five years’ time? If that thought makes you think of five long years of stress and boredom, it’s time to start researching a career change. If you’d like to be in the same career but at a higher level, are you actively working towards a promotion, or just assuming that it will happen? Will your current actions put you in the position you want to be in, or will they mean that you never progress from where you currently are?

If you’re in school or college, are you truly investing in your future – or are you just enjoying yourself and blowing off classes whenever you can? Alternatively, are you taking on so many extra credit courses that you’re risking burnout? Whatever your attitude towards your education, stop and think about where you’re likely to be in five years time if you carry on as you currently are doing. Will you be in the position you want?

Are you currently in debt? Do you have the level of savings that you’d like – maybe an emergency fund, or a bigger pot of cash for traveling? Consider how the way you’re treating money today will impact you in five years. If you keep buying on credit, leaving bills unopened and refusing to get on top of your finances, you’re going to make things very hard for your future-self. But if you start saving just $10 a week today, that’s $2,600 (plus interest!) in five years time.

What good habits would you like to have in your life? What bad habits would you like to get rid of? Unless you’re taking active steps to build the former and conquer the latter, you’re unlikely to make any progress. If you want to cut down your coffee habit or quit smoking, don’t keep putting it off until next week, next month, or next year. Because five years down the line, your future-self is looking back and wishing that you’d started working on those habits today.

Do you eat a healthy diet? Do you exercise on a regular basis? Is your body in good shape and likely to survive the next five years without any significant health problems? Be honest with yourself: if you’re overweight, why not start taking action now? Even if it takes you five years to reach a healthy weight, those five years are going to go by anyway. Just ask your future-self (who wishes you’d start your healthier lifestyle right now).

Something many people regret in life is not taking advantage of the chances that they have. Are you missing out on any opportunities at the moment? Is your future-self looking back and telling you to sign up for that course, take that class, reach out to that potential new friend, or volunteer for that big project at work? A good place to look for the opportunities you’re missing is to think about anything you’re afraid to try, or afraid to start. Those are the things that future-self wishes you’d do!

Do you have friends or relatives who sap your energy, motivation and zest for life, every time you see them? Your future-self is going to struggle on with those vampiric relationships for the next five years unless you take action to change or end them right now. Or do you have old friends who you keep meaning to get back in touch with? Guess what – you’ll probably still be meaning to in five years’ time, if you don’t get moving, so start looking up those phone numbers or email addresses today.

Take fifteen minutes today, and write a letter from the perspective of your future-self, speaking to your present-self. What do you need to be told? Where in your life do you need to make changes?

Written on 11/17/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university.

In Bliss,
Coach Sandy

Sandy Kiaizadeh
Find Your Bliss Coaching

How Long Could You Survive Without A Job?

If you lost your job tomorrow, how long would you survive solely on your savings account?

However secure you think your job is, don’t assume that you’re immune to the current economic situation; good employees lose good jobs in bad times. Over the past several months, we’ve seen huge companies, once considered unbreakable, disappear overnight.

I am not going to tell you that I have a solution to our global economic dilemma. However, I am going to say that being laid-off while prepared is a lot better than being caught off guard. So, while I'm not advocating getting paranoid and worrying that the sky is falling, you should work to prepare yourself a little. What is the contingency plan?Here are four steps to get you started.

Keep Your Resume Up To Date

This is something simple you could sort out today – making sure you have an accurate, fully up-to-date resume. If the last time you wrote a resume was when you applied for your current job, it might need a lot of updating. Check out dates and job titles, and think about the “soft skills” you want to include. Get someone to proof-read your resume for you. Make sure that it’s as well formatted and displayed as possible. And double-check your contact details; even if you haven’t moved, chances are you’ve changed your cell number or email address in the past few years.The last thing you want on your plate when bad news arrives is having to sort out your resume, so get into the habit of updating it on a regular basis – I've always recommended that it be updated at least every year, on your birthday.

Build Up An Emergency Fund

If you have a meager savings account, start building up an emergency fund. This is something you only dip into in the case of dire need: being laid-off, medical crisis, family disaster. Even if you can only save $20 a week, that’ll be $520 after six months (and that’s without interest) - enough to make a significant difference if times get really tight. Ideally, you want to get your emergency fund big enough to cover two or three months of expenses. Then, if you’re laid off, you have time to hunt for a new job without your family being in financial crisis.

Minimize Your Expenses Now

Cutting down on your outgoings now has two benefits:

  1. You’ll start saving money which you can put into your emergency fund.

  2. You won’t be paying unnecessary fees if you do lose your job.

If you have gym membership that you rarely or never use, cancel it. Most health clubs require a minimum of one month’s notice when you want to cancel – you don’t want to be hit with that steep monthly bill if you’re unemployed. Even if you are a regular gym-goer, look around for cheaper alternatives.

Hunt for a better deal on any forms of insurance you have.

Look at household bills, and see what’s costing a lot. Can you cut down on phone calls during peak hours or use Skype as an alternative? Are you paying for an expensive monthly plan on your cell phone when you only use half the minutes?

Don’t forget small, daily, expenses which can add up to more than the monthly ones. Brown-bag your lunch to take into work, rather than buying a sandwich every day. Think about the costs of those bits and pieces you buy on impulse (goodbye daily venti soy latt├ęs!).

Build a Second Income Stream

Once you’ve sorted out your resume, started your emergency fund, and cut down on your expenses, you should be in a pretty good position to weather financial storms. However, this fourth tip allows you to actively get extra money – it could even grow to enough to replace your current job.

Starting a second income stream means finding a way to make some money, however little, outside your primary job. That could mean almost anything: running a stall at a Saturday market, making craft items with your kids and selling them on ebay (selling the craft items, that is, not the kids…), creating a website that attracts lots of readers and earns money through advertising, starting a neighborhood dog-walking service, etc.

Good places to start building a second income stream are your hobbies and interests. What do you do in your spare time? How might you make money from it? Think creatively!The internet has opened up a huge number of ways for everyday folks to make good money.

So what about you? How long could you survive if you lost your job tomorrow? What steps are you actively taking – or are you going to take – in order to make your financial situation secure, even with a temporary loss of income?

In Bliss,
Coach Sandy

Sandy Kiaizadeh
Find Your Bliss Coaching

Reduce Stress Through Listening

Today's blog was written by Jillian Gregory, for, an online portal for educational and self-development audio and video material, which can be found at

Is your "To-Do" list longer then the latest Harry Potter novel? Do you have to pick up the kids from school, work on several cases at work, or plan your next company meeting? Maybe you have to do some or all of the above. Dealing with stressful life situations like these has become common place in our modern speed of light society.

Through advances in technology and innovation in business practices we have become accustomed to dealing with more things at a quicker pace. Our patience has diminished as we pop minute meals into the microwave instead of taking time to create a home cooked meal. There are too many things you need to accomplish in the day to worry about whether your family meal was made by your hands or Betty Crocker’s.

Unfortunately the push to achieve more in a shorter period of time is detrimental to your overall health. Lack of sleep and poor eating habits of a stressed out worker can cause problems on the job, not to mention decreased fitness. It is crucial to your health and enjoyment of life to take a breather. Take time to enjoy life. Don’t let the everyday stresses distract you from the important aspects of life, whatever they may be in your situation.

How can I make time when I don’t have enough time to begin with? It’s all about priorities. Decreasing the amount of stress in your life should be a top priority. There are techniques you can integrate into your day which will quell stressful aspects of your life.

What are these valuable techniques? There are numerous stress reduction techniques and they are varied in nature. A great audio book to listen to is Life is Not a Stress Rehearsal by Loretta LaRoche. This audio book provides insights into slowing down your hectic life in a funny, manageable way. It is a great resource for anyone dealing with stress that would like to explore practical ways to reduce stress in their life.

Also check out How to Manage Stress Easily by Effective Learning Systems. This audio learning resource will help you to free yourself from negative feelings and stressors that pervade your life. Another great audio book is Calm Your Mind by Matthew McKay. Matthew McKay presents four basic techniques you can engage in to reduce stress, calm your mind, and center your soul.

Follow the scientifically proven effectiveness of the techniques presented in Stress Reduction and Creative Meditations for Work and Career by Marc Allen. Listen to what thousands have learned about focusing on relaxation exercises each day. Another great audio resource is Living a Life of Inner Peace by Eckhart Tolle. This is a transformative talk by Eckhart Tolle that focuses on the effects of your state of presence.

Another great way to reduce stress is to make sure all of your uncompleted business tasks (or "open loops") are properly tracked. David Allen's Getting Things Done series is one of the best methodologies for this. His goal? To help you achieve a "Mind Like Water." Allen's audio titles include Getting Things Done, Ready for Anything and Nightingale-Conant title Getting Thigns Done Fast.

Other alternative stress reduction audio resources include A Guide to Alternative Self-Healing Techniques for Stress Reduction by Dr. William Collinge and Stress Relief by Michael Reed Gach. These audio books cover alternative methods such as acupuncture, yoga, and deep breathing. They offer a comprehensive alternative approach. And if you're interested in listening to a relaxing podcast to relieve stress take a listen to the Zencast Podcast by

Relieve stress by listening to these priceless audio resources. Listen to them while you are cleaning the house, doing the laundry, or planning your next company meeting. Hearing the great advice and inspiration of stress experts will begin to reduce your stress level immediately.

In Bliss,
Coach Sandy

Sandy Kiaizadeh
Find Your Bliss Coaching