Friday, January 23, 2015

No One Size Fits All in Finance

I have been ruminating lately on all of the different struggles that some of my clients face with their finances. What has been coming through for me time and time again, is that while there is some advice that is considered universal, there is no one approach to mastering money that will work for everyone.

Each individual will be faced with unique challenges and have, in contrast, their own unique advantages as well. In order for each person to fully benefit from an increased awareness of their financial state they have to first accept that they are trying to create their own mould and not fit into one.

While having certain financial foundations in place, such as a good relationship with credit, emergency savings and budgeting habits are hard to argue against, they may not fit in with your current situation. In the latter cases it may even be something that does not suit your style of living.

You may be perfectly happy operating without a budget or a cash cushion and until such changes you should continue to do what makes you feel most comfortable. While some gurus may consider this disastrous financial advice, I find that altering your behaviour is most successful when you are genuinely motivated by a want to change.

Change in itself works best when it is done in a deliberate manner, and it will stick when you are fully engaged in the process. Being engaged means that the changes that you are making have to resonate with you on a base level.

This is why it is important to not only take the advice of a guide, but to make sure that this advice sits well with you. If you give something an honest try and it leaves you feeling drained and uncomfortable, this could be a sign that you need to direct your energy to improving in another area.

I have learned from experience that trying to enforce a habit change before you are truly ready to do it, is not much more useful than banging your head against a brick wall.

What is needed is that you have a firm sense of what works for you and what does not. It is never too late to take a look at your finances and see if there is anything that you are overlooking or under-doing. Today is always soon enough to make a positive change.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Being Positive in the Face Turmoil

I'll admit it: I spent most of my teen years and early twenties in a haze of negativity and apathy. While this certainly makes me a pot coming to preach to a kettle on the matter of being positive, I think it also makes me amply qualified to speak about how turmoil, both inner and outer, drags a person down.

When you are facing challenges, and for each person this would be different things, it is sometimes impossible to see past the current woes to any possibility of a better tomorrow. In fact, it always seems much easier to be 'realistic' and accept that life is against you for some mystical reason that is out of your control.

The pit falls of this type of thinking are vast.

First and foremost, it leaves you cynical and depressed which robs your life of any joy and often prompts you to rain on others people as well because misery truly loves company. When you are unable to be positive, your motivation suffers and as a result your productivity in all areas of your life will state to decline.

Further the quality of your relationships will also decline because your constant down state will worry those that care about you the most. Constantly having to prop you up, only to be faced by your dismal outlook may well cost you a few friends.

Changing this habit of embracing turmoil with a shroud of dismalness takes coming to a decision to take another path. Choosing to believe that something good can come your way, even in the lowest part of your life, will require a lot more effort than sticking with a belief in the worse.

It is harder because it is worth it.

If you have spent years brandishing the negativity hammer, disarming yourself will prove to be one of the hardest habits to break. Even without help from you, your mind will continue to generate multiple sad endings to your life and counteracting them will take deliberate intention.

The key is stubborn consistency; it is now necessary for you to cling to the positive in the same manner in which you brandished the negative. Counter all of your thoughts with a more positive alternative and even when you find yourself wallowing a bit in self pity, firmly change that channel to one that bespeaks of a more wholesome outcome.

Know that you may find opposition from anyone who used gladly join you in your daily recounting of woe. As you move away from that bad habit, ground it within yourself and make it personal. Breaking a pervasively bad habit like negativity will take a long time and you will fumble along the way. The key is to not let anyone else get you down with their predictions, continue to work on keeping your thoughts at a high vibration.

Thoughts are only one part of the equation but I think it is the most important. When you disarm your negative thinking you empower yourself to start looking for solutions. As you continue to focus on the solutions and not the issue, you gain momentum which will spur you into taking action to change your circumstances.

I know from experience that much of my negative whining never lead me to changing anything. It only served to keep me in the same position which I was complaining so strongly about.

Having seen the power of being positive put into action in my life, I know that there comes a time when you do need to vent. I believe that this is good, and has its place, but that time should be kept to a minimum. The best use of ones energy is focusing on what good remains or can come from a situation and focusing all attention there.

When in doubt, be positive. And if that doesn't work, keep trying.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Look at the Emotions and Food

I have mentioned briefly before that I had a real struggle with my food budget over the years. While I am doing much better, I still find myself facing challenges in this area. In the not too distant past I would spend nearly a thousand dollars in food a month all told, between eating out and groceries, but my health was suffering.

When I first got into budgeting and started to pare down this category, I came face to face with my poor eating habits. A lot of my purchases were driven by laziness, but then another set of them came from an emotional pull.

The laziness was easy to correct as I became motivated to save money, but the emotional spending on food continued on. Each time I felt low or even in contrast, when I felt I needed to celebrate something, I would indulge.

I began to notice that I was looking for excuses to eat out, but very seldom did I actually fully enjoy the meal. I even at times tried to rationalize it by buying enough food to be left over for another meal, but deep inside I knew that my habit was completely out of hand.

I think that we as humans put a lot of emotions into food. We elevate it to a high regard because it is one of the chief things that we use to assist with socialization, from dating, to family get-togethers, to celebrating major life events. We also tend to use it as a crutch when we feel down, turning to ice-cream or other treats as a way of picking up our mood.

The social aspect of eating can be a factor in persons who have a need for a restricted diet, constantly straying from that regime much to the detriment of their body in the long run. This occurs when the the other person not on the diet orders food that the other cannot eat; in that moment resolve is often weakened.

Seeing much of my own behaviour highlighted as I ruminated on this topic was admittedly a very uncomfortable feeling. I felt like I was in a constant tug of war with my taste-buds, my emotions and my good sense. Throwing my love of budgeting into the mix created a friction that saw me losing the battle more often than I care to admit.

I had settled into an odd pattern of binging. I would eat well for a month or two then have a few weeks of going completely off of the rails. The downside is that each time this happened my body's reaction to the allergies were more intense.

Despite knowing that food is just a fuel for the body and that all of the additional emotional and social aspects are the least important part of the process, I get very caught up in the latter and lost sight of the first.

One deterrent to tackling how to change my diet is that everyone has opinions of how you should eat. Vegetarian, Pescetarian, Paleo and Clean Eating; it is enough to drive one batty. I can't say that I have hit on an exact formula yet, but I know myself well enough to know that it has to be something that I have figured out for myself; I don't do well following other people's doctrines.

My biggest challenge will be successfully separating my emotions from my need to fuel my body and that is an challenge that I have taking up for the rest the month. The first part of this is to increase my food budget and use the most of it to purchase fruit, vegetables and protein.

I will come back and report on how it is going and what my observations were.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Twice-Again Centipede: Part 2

When we last left our unlucky heroes they had been on a triumphant high following the beast having some modicum of decency and exiting itself from the scene. That was short lived however, the foul beast changed his mind and decided to re-enter the story and once again threaten the lives of our protagonists.

Let's get back to it.

My decision to continue to preside over my kingdom of safe haven in the armchair had proven to be wise. The beast was back. I watched with a detached humour as he wriggled from under the baseboard and started to make a circuit around my room, passing with uncanny frequency past my door, then under my bed before disappearing out of sight.

My brave friend took this time to arm herself with a rusty hammer from her room. She also popped into the now cleared minefield of my parent's room and dual-wielded the spray can.

As luck would have it, the spray can was almost empty.

"Tonight is just not our night," she said woefully, "It hardly has in anything,"

My eyes were glued on my doorway as the creature scuttled past once more. When I lifted my eyes and beheld my friend I laughed. Her face held a grim expression as she stood poised and ready to do battle with the beast that lurked within my room.

Girded in a towel with her weapons held aloft, she seemed to be doing her best to channel her warrior ancestors of old. All she was missing I thought was a theme song.

"Well here goes nothing," she stated and I got a sudden flash of inspiration. A battle was about to be fought and all great wars should be documented. I whipped out my cellphone and engaged the voice memo function.

In that moment I transitioned from being a participant in the drama, to the reporter, risking as little life and limb as possible while adding flavour to the scene with my narration.

"Here we have a caricature of humanity," I started, my friend's look of concentration on the task at hand was broken when she turned to stare at me instead, "There comes time when a a battle must be fought and you see the real mettle of a man,"

"You recording that for truth?" she asked me, looking incredulous and a good bit amused.

"Here we have the valiant warrior ready to do battle, and I ask of myself, why are you not also joining her in her fight. And I come to the conclusion that in a war there are the fighters and there are the people in the kitchens."

She continued to give me an ever deepening look of wonder as I rattled on.

"I say to you all, that I am not the one to be in the trenches, I am the one in the kitchen peeling the potatoes."

My friend began to laugh at me but I was unphased. I was quite beginning to get into my roll as a story teller.

"And this is good. For the warriors need to eat to fight the war. I may be  a coward, but I'm proud to be the potato peeler,"

"Uh.. okay. All right, it's time to do this," she said, "He's obviously not just going to go away,"

"Rock on!" I cheered, "The warrior is ready to do battle," I narrated.

She shook her head and then sprang into action as the beast rounded the corner. She sprang nimbly into the room and unleashed a blast of spray upon him with the harrowing battle cry.

"Die you little bitch!"

She sprang backwards giving the beast room to writhe in its now enraged frenzy. When it made its way back into view she dashed forward again to administer another blast of poison.

"Shit!" she proclaimed, "I'm out of juice,"

I was too captivated by the intensity of her fight to remember that I was to be narrating. My heart was pounding in my chest.

"I just need one more blast," she muttered, shaking the spray can and then trying her best to squeeze out every last ounce of her ammunition.

"Is it dead..." I queried after this last volley.

"It's dying," she reported, now hovering outside of the room, "I just need something else to finish it off."

She looked at her hammer and then at me and we both looked dubious. Hero though she may be, her using the Hammer of Rusted Destruction had always been a long shot.

"Ah I know,"

She disappeared into the kitchen and emerged with bottle of white vinegar. it was my turn to look at her as if she was mad, or at very least a mad scientist.

"This will do the trick," she said and then I heard the splash of the liquid hitting the floor, where the dying beast lay just out of view.

Minutes ticked by. I started to narrate again.

"The beast is almost at its end," I said in a voice which I hoped conveyed the gravity of the situation, "The warrior is standing now, waiting for it to truly die."

At length, the beast wriggled its last and lay dead. Or so I was told by my friend for I had no intention of moving from my spot. I didn't even want to see its foul carcass.

In time it was disposed of, and eventually I returned to my room. I won't lie dear readers, I stayed in my kingdom long after the vinegar had soaked into floorboards.. just in case the centipede had a irate cousin lurking...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Twice-Again Centipede Part 1

Picture this if you will:. a woman about five feet six inches tall, wrapped in a towel armed with a spray can and a rusty old hammer steeling herself for the battle with the enemy. Who is this brave warrior princess of the Bop Clan and who is the enemy that would dare some against someone armed with The Hammer of Rusted Destruction?

Stay tuned to find out but before we jump in let's just add in one more character the mix. I want to introduce you to the Bajan Coward, the Queen of Elevation and Sovereign Ruler of the safety of the twenty square inch dining room chair. That monarch of meekness my readers is none other that yours truly.

Let's dive in to the scene:

I was laying down in my cot enjoying the quiet of the night and a good book when I was moved to go to the bathroom. On my return I was struck dumb by the sight of a behemoth centipede, in my estimation at least eleven inches long wriggling its way from my room into my parent's bedroom.

"Oh no!" I exclaimed, glued to my spot in the corridor.

In the ensuing moments, my best friend emerged from her room and asked me in a fervent tone of concern what was the matter.

"It's another one," I bemoaned.

"Not another centipede!" she queried, peering around the corner but holding safe distance, "This simply isn't funny, you just had one of those a couple weeks ago."

"I know," I moaned, "But it's another one and it seemed even bigger than the last one."

"Oh no," she said echoing my previous state of disbelief.

"Exactly!" I added feeling that she was finally understanding of my plight.

She forged forward in her bravery to look into my parent's room to try to espy the villain. She commented that she didn't see it but I assured her that it was indeed there. We heard an ominous scratching sound but yet nothing was in evidence.

She mentioned again that she didn't see it and then noticing that I had not moved from my spot in the corridor:

"I don't see it, maybe it left, you can move."

"No way," I said vehemently, shaking my head, "I am only sure about the safety of these ten square inches and I refused to move."

She thought I was joking, but as the moments ticked on she realised I was quite serious. Then another scratching noise and then I heard her cry out.

"Oh my god, it is bigger than the last one...where's the spray,"

 We both looked at each other as a horrible truth dawned, the spray was in my parent's bedroom with the beast.

"Well isn't that lovely!" she said with a voice loaded with sarcasm. I could only agree. I was recounting to myself that moments like this really separated out the cowards from the brave. I knew which camp I was in, and in my kingdom of the corridor, I presided without shame.

Suddenly she shrieked and like a scout giving warning said:

"It's coming out and heading your way."

I took flight with a fair amount of expressive ambient noise (ergo shrieking) as I relocated myself from the corridor up into the nearest chair. My best friend similarly joined me in the land of the above, planting her feet firmly in a chair across the table from me,

The beast seemingly sensing our frenzy made a bee line for the chair where my best friend was perched and she hopped from the chair to the table. Even in my terror I was able to laugh at how terribly absurd we were both being at that moment.

"It's heading for the door," my best friend noted, and she bravely hopped down to open the door. Then the silliness took a turn for the ridiculous as we urged with great urging for the beast to use the door and go outside.

"Leave! Go!" she urged.

"Yes!!" I cried, pumping my hands triumphantly as the foul best wriggled its way out the door.

"Shut the damn door!" I hollered and my best friend did so.

In the aftermath, I was still in an armchair, as we nervously laughed and talked about how lucky we were that it took itself out of the house. Having worked up quite the sweat, my best friend said she was off to take a bath and changed into her towel.

She noted again that I was still rooted to my armchair.

"You can move now," she urged but I shook my head. I had the feeling that it would come back but I didn't share that with her. She tried to coax me to go back to reading some more but eventually gave up heading for the bath.

Just as she went to shut the door, I heard an scritching noise...

"Is that you?" I queried hopefully.

"Me that ..what?" she asked, stepping back out the bathroom and easing down the corridor.

"Shh.. listen.." I urged her...

She did and I did and we did hear something again.

"You have to joking," she murmured.

I was hoping too but then I saw the black creature snake it way across my bedroom floor and disappear under one of the baseboards.

"No, it's back..." I said, sounding far calmer than I was feeling. The centipede had returned...

Will our heroes survive a second encounter with the many-legged beast? Stay tuned to find out.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Closer Look at My Life Coaching Journey

When I first started to want to hire a life coach for myself I wasn't quite sure what to expect so I am not surprised that one of my readers asked me to go a little bit more in-depth into my experience.

Life coaching may be presented differently by various coaches but the premise is that coaches guide you to where you want to go. For me this statement has two key parts, the first being that they are guiding you and the second that you have to pick your destination.

To this end my very first session was one focused on me choosing my destination. My life coach from My Empowerment My Way, Ayesha Nura let me pour my heart out about what were my major worries at the time. It felt good to be able to admit to someone that my job was not fulfilling me and that I had truly hit a wall in my life and I couldn't see beyond it.

Once I had gotten all of that off of my chest, Ayesha lead me through a guided meditation during which I allowed myself to see my perfect future. She prompted me to think on various areas of my future life such as what job I was doing, where did I live, how I dressed and more importantly how I felt. I mentioned briefly before that my ability to envision my future was a bit stunted so the images took a while to start to form in mind but I was eventually able to relax and make the most of the exercise..

After this meditation, I shared it with her, as I will now share it with you so you can get an idea of what was the destination I was choosing to go to.

"I saw myself happy and smiling, I had a motorcycle and I lived in a place that made me feel comfortable. I saw myself counselling people financially but I also saw that I was still wearing my ATC uniform at times but even then I was also happy. The had a strong sense of having everything that I needed or wanted at the time. I also felt completely safe."

From this meditation Ayesha drew two of my most powerful and comforting personal affirmations:

"I am my refuge."

"In this place I have everything."

Ayesha also asked me to believe that I has all of the knowledge I needed to start counselling people right away, instead of waiting for a vague tomorrow. To aid me with this she added another affirmation.

"I move forward with confidence knowing that I have sage wisdom behind me,"

In addition to prescribing the above affirmations, she asked me to repeat the meditation on my own and a daily basis and to write out what came to be in the visions.

I left that session with my homework and with a challenge. She asked me to believe in myself and to put some actions behind my thoughts. I was to recite the affirmations everyday and at first they felt silly but as I did them they became ingrained into my thought patterns. When I had a negative thought or feeling, I would shift it with one of these positive statements.

As I got more comfortable doing the meditation I was able to expanded my vision of my future, I started to ask myself what was holding me back from making some of these things I was seeing a reality now. This I believe is the real magic in the exploration phase of a life rebuilding journey. It came sharply into focus for me that was the main thing holding myself back for having the experiences, emotions and feelings that I craved.

This was the foundation of my journey from feeling depressed and lost, to being in control of my destiny. By replacing my negative thoughts with positive ones and by gradually taking note of the things I could implement in my life right away I grew in confidence.

I started to de-clutter my home and make it into a place were I felt comfortable and safe. I rearranged my furniture and moved into a different room and set up my bedroom there. I started to take on demo coaching clients and I found that I really enjoyed helping people put their finances in order.

Other changes I made was that I started to spend more time at the beach, subsequently I taught myself to swim and snorkel, and I made my vision of spending time with my friends at the beach a reality. As each of these things happened, it gave me to confidence to implement the more and more changes.

I believe that the experience of Life Coaching came to me at the right time. I was eager for a change and so I put in the needed work. The tools that Ayesha gave me are powerless without having the courage to take the initiative.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Hating your Debt is Counter-Productive

As I discussed in my last post, debt comes in several different forms and guises and each person takes on debt for different reasons and in different ways. Each person's debt story is different and because of that there is no one universal approach to debt management that can be prescribed.

One thing however that should never be part of your debt repayment strategy is nurturing a feeling of hatred towards the debt. Many times I have seen people get very passionate about debt, often expressing emotions which vary from despair to disgust.

All emotions in this spectrum are natural, especially when you are first waking up to the magnitude of the hole which you have dug with bad financial practices. In some cases, you were doing well until an emergency or job loss caused you to fall behind on your payments. However you come to that place when you feel the heavy burden of your debts, stop yourself from giving into the emotions of hate and disgust. These emotions are counter-productive and can be quite damaging to your self-worth.

In all cases, the debt which you carry is a representation of the choices which you made in the past. To hate the debt, is to in part hate yourself for making those decisions. While there is a benefit to looking back at these decisions and being able to admit that they were not the best you could have made in the circumstances, beating yourself up does not assist you to move forward.

Making peace with your past decisions without casting blame heavily on yourself, allows you to have a clear mind. With this clear mind you are able to see the lessons in your past and make a plan for the future that would allow you to improve your situation.

Forgiving yourself for the debt, is a key step in separating your bad decisions from your innate ability to handle your finances efficiently and effectively. Often persons consider themselves to be bad with money although they simply lack the basic tools to turn their financial story around,

It is important to give yourself a clean slate to start with which allows to create a fresh paradigm for your money story.

Consider working some of these positive money affirmations into your self-care routine.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Getting a Better Understanding of Debt

Most people come to the point of realising they need a change in their financial habits only when they are suddenly faced with a mountain of debt that they are struggling to repay. For the most part, we have as a society become comfortable with carrying various amounts of debts once the repayments are small enough.

The problem with this outlook is that it leads people to take on several debts which on their own are manageable but when compiled together, the total minimum payments far exceed what the person can afford to pay.

This slippery debt slope is often compounded by regular monthly bills and you may end up having to chose between keeping the lights on in the house, or putting gas in the car. 

It goes without saying that being in debt comes with various stresses and problems when it reaches the stage were you are robbing Peter to pay Paul. If you or a loved one is in this situation, you know that it is an unhealthy state and you should be working pro-actively to turn this situation around. 

When looking at your specific debts or if you are not in any debt yet and considering taking on some, it is important to understand different types of debt.

Some experts talk about the concept of good debt and bad debt. While I don't fully agree with this, I will still discuss the general theory behind this classification as I think it is a great starting point. 

What is Good Debt?

In short good debt is something that will appreciate in value or act as an investment. This would be a house, an education or starting a business. The caution here is that depending on the market in which you bought your home, or how your business pans out, you may end up losing money instead of gaining any benefit. You should also consider how you will make a return on your education when you take out a loan for it;be wary of studying an obscure subject area with few job opportunities. 

What is Bad Debt?

Bad debt is known as consumer debt which is credit card debt, personal loans and car loans. These also spans line of credit or family loans to cover things that are not necessities. In general going into debt should not be a way to satisfy your desire for something new, saving should be the go to way.
This requires disconnecting from the modern idea that your needs should be instantly gratified.

Other Situations

You may find yourself having to go into debt to for emergency reasons. Such as a sudden illness, or an unfortunate series of events that leave you with your back against the wall financially. These situations are rare and usually come at intervals in your life. This does not discount the ability for you to have a very unlucky set of weeks.

General Rules of Thumb

1) Avoid all Debt like the Plague.

Do not except for an emergency, spend money you do not have on things that you don't really need. Refrain from using debt to inflate your quality of life, it will at some point catch up with you. Contentment and stress-free living hinges a lot on living with-in you means. 

2) If You are in Debt, Prioritize Getting Out of It

This one is straight forward. If you find you have a lot of consumer debt, you should be paying as much of your disposable income towards this debt as you can manage. Tackle your debts one by one, being consistent with your payments. Care should be taken not to put so much money towards your debt that you end up going into more debt to meet your basic needs.

3) Save 

Even if you are deep in debt, it is necessary to have some savings which you can utilize in emergencies. If you can save at least five hundred dollars as a cushion, this will give you more financial security. Ideally you should have at least a month's worth of expenses saved.

4) Design your Ideal Life

One way to stay motivated while paying off debt, but also to avoid taking on debt recklessly, is to have a clear picture of the life you are trying to build. When you have a destination in mind, you will be able to decide if you really need to buying a new coat, if you should send that money to debt or save it. Making big decisions like buying a home, paying for a child's education or buying a vehicle, should not be made without weighing not only your current needs but what you want for you future.

I will continue to speak on the topic of debt in upcoming posts, focusing on having a good relationship with your debt and staying motivated while paying down your debt. Feel free to leave a comment, if you have a specific question you want answers about debt and I will answer it in my next post.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Setting Goals

I feel this topic leads naturally on from my posts about making decisions and paying attention to your passions. Once you uncover and prioritize your passions then you need to crystallise your plan of action.

Goal setting is best used for short term, and traceable plans. A good goal would be saving 1000 dollars. A weak goal is simply deciding that you are going to save something out of every pay-check.

The main difference is that in the first case, your goal has a clear ending point and it is quantified, which allows you to know how far along you are. In the latter instance, there is no clear finish line and as you didn't set a target, you could be saving anywhere from 10c to 50 dollars and technically still be meeting your goal.

It is important that goals are clear so that you do not feel uncertain as to whether or not that goal has been reached. Equally key, is to set goals that are reachable, even if it is a bit of a stretch. If the only conceivable way you have to reach the end result is for your to win the lottery, that is an intention not a goal.

When setting goals, especially those that are financial, it is very important to know how you intend to achieve them. Goals should be broken down into a step by step process. Setting a goal but not determining how it will be met, can leave you feeling lost and even discouraged along the way.

It is all right to build in a challenge into a goal. For example, in order to save 100 dollars a month you may decide to buy fewer books to make saving easier. If this is something that will be difficult, you should acknowledge this challenge as a separate part of the process.

Meeting challenges takes a different type of energy and its own motivation. You need to honour that, so that your failing at this additional challenge, does not completely derail your goal.

Using a clear format will also prevent you having too many goals at the same time. A long list of goals is demoralizing and can lower your productivity. If you clearly define each goal, you will be less likely to take on more than you handle.

Here is an example of how to break your goals down, so that they meet the above criteria.

Goal: I want to save 100 dollars every month in 2015.
How: I will transfer the money to an account when I get paid and then live on the rest.
Why: I need 1000 for a trip next year, and 200 for my yearly term insurance.
Challenge: Buy only 1 book a month. Use extra funds for my goal.
Why: I find I buy books but don't read them all before buying more.

Setting goals is a wonderful way to steer your ship in the right direction; use them wisely and they will bring clarity and focus to your plans.

Friday, January 2, 2015

5 Quick Tips for Making Decisions

Making decisions is an inevitable part of our lives. We are called upon constantly to give an opinion, to make choices and to pick a plan of action. Indecisiveness and worry can make decision-making a very painful process; this can lead to missed opportunities or hastily made choices that lead to regrets.

Ideally we want to master making decisions that we are completely happy with. This includes being fully engaged with the outcome and following through with our choices.

I was motivated to write this post because it is the start of  a New Year, and that represents endless opportunities and possibilities. Being sure that you make the best decisions can put you the driver's seat instead of feeling like you are playing catch up.

Here we go:

1) Give yourself space.

Don't allow yourself to make a decision when you feel rushed. Take a deep breath and calm yourself down so that you have a clear mind.

2) Think but Don't Over-think

Weigh the pros and cons of the situation but be succinct. Keep your thoughts streamlined and don't allow yourself to be side tracked. You can jot down the pros and cons in a notebook if you are struggling with over-thinking.

3) Tune in to your Gut

If a situation feels off to you and you find yourself hesitating on a decision, it could be that your intuition is telling you to take deeper look. Trusting you gut reaction is a great way to cut through to the heart of the issue. If you don't feel that the situation is okay, then it probably isn't.

4)Push Pass Worry

If you want to say yes but you are feeling bogged down by your fears and doubts, this the time to check in with yourself. If you find that you are coming up with lots of baseless or far-fetched reasons why you shouldn't go ahead, put them aside and mindfully take the next step. Do not let worry hold you back, unless it is founded in a real concern.

5) No Buts, Ifs or Maybes, only Yes or No.

When you find yourself half in instead of all in. You should have said no. It pays to be fully present in a situation; don't say yes to keep someone from feeling hurt. You will hurt them more if they pick up on your apathy or disinterest. Honour yourself and the other party, and say no to thing that you don't truly want.