Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Balancing Life Financially: Excellent Payout!

As the holiday shopping season is officially underway, what better time to think about – and act on – balancing your life financially. When I was a newlywed, my oh-so-financially-astute husband had a huge shiver when I shared my financial knowledge. I drew upon my musician personality to make my financial decisions. Now it is a funny story to share in seminars, but looking in the rear view mirror, it was plain pitiful!

Through the years I have learned so much. And in my seminars, we address finances. Not the financial amount of dollars, but amount of knowledge. As I have often said, knowledge is power. Power enables us to balance our lives and career. Win-win-win!

So if you are looking for that knowledge, let's hit a few how-to points:

Step 1: Recognize your finances. Identify your accounts, where they are located and how much is in each account.

Step 2: Learn the basic terminology. What is a stock, bond, mutual fund, asset allocation, etc.

Step 3: Recognize where you are in your life, by age and circumstances. What is your tolerance for risk and your investment objective? Do you know where you want to be in five years? 25 years? Set your goals accordingly.

Step 4: Find a broker/investment professional you trust. Establish a relationship. It is important you feel comfortable and trustworthy of them, a person that is working on your behalf. One who you can ask questions and foster a process of learning.

Step 5: Meet with your personal advisor regularly to discuss changes as they occur, and adjust your plan if needed.

If you choose to do it yourself, there are oodles of free tools available to help you manage your accounts. Check with your bank on options they may offer or try a free online tool to help you see where your money is – and where it’s going.

The school of life is a continuous process. Remember that your finances are considered part of the “long haul.” Stay the course and down the road the payout can be very rewarding.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Proactivity: The Stress Buster

Have you ever observed someone spending more energy on fixing a problem when they could have used half that energy to do it right, the first time? Sports enthusiasts talk “offense,” but do they place it in their daily lives? Are you being proactive in arranging your personal life so as to knock out some stress? Proactivity is certainly part of being organized. In fact, “Be Proactive” is also Stephen Covey’s Habit #1 in his wildly popular book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Here are a several examples of living the “proactive” philosophy each day to help reduce stress – and find that all important balance:

·         Scheduling regular checkups on your car and your health.

·         Putting a fire exit plan together for your home, not just work.

·         Paying personal bills monthly via auto deductions on checking accounts and credit cards, not reacting to a paper bill that can get hidden in a stack of papers.

·         Setting up a backup babysitter plan for when the daycare unexpectedly closes, so you don’t have to panic or take off work.

·         Storing personal items in one place, like keys, so there is no morning scramble looking for them.

·         Sitting down and making a proactive plan for you and your family!

 What a stress buster!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Company Culture: Important to Finding Balance

This year, I was invited to play at a charity golf tournament sponsored by Chic-fil-A. I had been around a few of the executives before with my husband and was looking forward to the event. It was well executed with generous entry gifts, golf pros in every group, and even hot Chic-fil-A sandwiches delivered on the course!  But I must say, what superseded all of that was the effervescence of Chic-fil-A’s company culture. One didn't need to read the handbook on this one. Their beliefs rang clear by what I call lead by example.

The executive leadership team was dedicated to “total customer service” to their guests.  When served their food in the hotel or by each other, there was a spirit of sincere gratitude and a moment of praise for each task executed. It was quite impressive to say the least! It also provided a mental photo opportunity of how to treat others. Words like kindness, integrity and phrases like “the golden rule” came to mind. This was a great life lesson of balancing life with work, and the results were obvious how it reflected in their personal lives as they spoke of their families.

Does a company's culture come from the top? Or is it like a heartbeat that is felt from within? Or is it passed down from company history? And after identified, is your company culture something you can embrace? And some of you may be asking, "what are you talking about?!"

Company culture encompasses the values and beliefs that are shared by management, employees and shareholders. It should be strong and lasting, but it may change with time, employees and circumstances. Does your company culture value work-life balance? Or is it time to revisit?

Company culture.
Can you read it? Yes.
Can you see it? Yes.
Can you feel it? A powerful yes!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Balancing Life and Work: Trust

Trust is the backbone of any relationship – and an important part of creating balance between work and life. While researching the concept of trust, I was not surprised to find lots of negative activity surrounding it. Songs have been written about the lack thereof, counseling sites filled with resolving issues, and then there are the talk shows filled with distrust.

But how do we address trust in a positive fashion to help us find balance in our lives?

At Work: Surround yourself with trustworthy people. When working with new colleagues or hiring employees, do your homework on them. Have they been recommended? And by whom? Also, use your gut-o-meter. If it has a glitch of doubt, move on. Building trust with your co-workers is critical to developing a strong, successful team – and helps tremendously in achieving balance.

At Home: It’s critical to foster an environment of trust with those people who are most important to you. Family members and spouses must establish absolute trust in each other and know that they are in it as a team for the long-term.

In either situation, if trust is damaged, the road back is long and rocky. But trust works both ways. Both parties must have a mutual sense of trust in each other. How do you make yourself more trustworthy? Here are a few qualities that will help:

-          Be reliable to those around you.

-          Be punctual at home and work.

-          Tell the truth and don’t lie just to please others.

-          Listen and understand people.

-          Keep things private that were told to you in confidence.

So, keep it simple, trust others with good probability. And by all means, work on being trustworthy. Building mutual trust and support of your team – at work and at home – is critical to finding balance in both.