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Issue 94

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In this issue ~~

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Working Smarter

When I was a kid, we heard about how emerging technology was going to bring us the 4-day work week. As we now know, just the opposite happened. With most people being "wired" to the office with cell phones and Blackberries, it seems like you're never away from work.

Most of us grew up with a belief system that if you work longer and harder, you'll be more successful. Many companies are more concerned with how many hours you're putting in than how productive you actually are. But when you're working 60 hours a week, how much longer and harder can you work?? And what if you're trying to develop your creative work on the side? Where do you find the time and energy to do that?

It seems we've hit a wall with how hard and how much we can work. We're exhausted and depleted. Fortunately, there's a new paradigm that's coming forth to turn this around: Work smarter, not harder. By being strategic and focused, and by having clear goals that you're passionate about, you can be successful and still have a balanced lifestyle, with time for yourself and the things that are meaningful to you.

Marc Allen (www.marcallen.com) is proof that you don't have to be a workaholic to succeed. At the age of 30, Marc decided to try an experiment: he would create a successful publishing business working no more than 30 hours a week. He only worked when he felt like it and kept affirming that he was creating a successful company in an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way. Within a year, Marc began to see that his experiment was working.

Marc went on to co-found the New World Library with Shakti Gawain (remember – she's the author of the best-selling book, Creative Visualization). With no background in publishing, they built the company from a small start-up with no capital to one of the best known independent publishers. Marc, who began composing at the age of 16, has also written and published several albums of music.

So, how can we follow in Marc's footsteps? I know it's possible, because I was able to create a 3-day-a-week desktop publishing job that gave me a good income while I spent time building my publishing company. And when I got laid off from that job, I found another that held me over until I was ready to move into coaching full-time.

It's about following your passion and changing your beliefs. As a career coach, I see a lot of people who come in saying they're passionate about something, but they read statistics about how hard it is and everyone tells them they shouldn't give up their secure job (which they hate). There's a lot of negative feedback around us. To move past that, we need to be strong and believe in ourselves.

I know your next question: If I don't believe I can do this, how can I turn that around? It's not about taking a blind leap. You experiment and test it out, step by step. As you begin to experience some success, you formulate new beliefs, and it gives you the courage to take the next step.

Here's a strategy you can work with:

* Dream
You need to have a picture of where you want to be. Give yourself time to dream and imagine that vision. In order to do that, you need to know what's important to you. How do you define success for yourself? Sure, you want to pay your bills, but there are other things that may be more important to you than making tons of money, such as: time to do your creative work, time to start a business doing something you love to do, time with your family, time to play or time to stay in great shape.

When you know your priorities, you can make more effective and satisfying choices. Many people have chosen to simplify their lives – and reduce their expenses – to have more freedom and not be a slave to their jobs.

* Believe
Look at the beliefs that are holding you back, such as: "I need to work 60 hours a week to put my kids through college," or "I have to please my employer to keep my job, so I have to fit in my painting or writing when (if) I can find the time."

Now, turn those around to create affirmations for yourself. A couple of my favorites are: "The less I work, the more money I make," "The more fun I have, the more money I make," and "When I do what I love, money comes to me easily and abundantly." And a couple from Marc Allen: "Everything I need gets done easily and effortlessly," and "Opportunity is everywhere."

* Intend
Turn your desires and visions into an intention. The difference between a wish and an intention is focused desire and action. Have a game plan. The more concrete you can make it, the more easily you'll believe you can do it. If you don't know all the steps, start with what you do know.

* Prepare
What do you need to do to minimize the risk? For most people, having enough money in the bank to support themselves for 6 to 12 months gives them tremendous freedom and security. If you know your expenses are covered, you can feel more comfortable taking a risk. Sacrifice some of your indulgences, and sock the money away into a high-interest account.

Also, prepare your loved ones. Get them on your team. They don't have to love what you're doing – in fact, it may scare them – but it's harder to be successful at this if you're fighting them. Create your strategy together. Once you have a plan and it feels less frightening, your partner may even want to do this too!

Think about anything else you need to do to move forward with confidence – any loose ends you need to tie up or anything you want to have in place to make you feel safer taking the risk.

* Act
Action is what will turn your vision into a reality. You only have to know the first steps – subsequent steps will reveal themselves to you as you move forward. Take actions consistently. If you need to, put them in your calendar. For example, if you've been working long hours and want to start cutting back, mark off in your calendar time for your creative work, your family, leisure time, etc., and treat it as a serious commitment.

* Follow Through
Once you've got your plan in the works, it's important to follow through. It's easy to fall back into old habits. Be clear on what your boundaries are. If you've determined that you'll leave work by 6 PM (or quit working if you're self-employed), it's important to do that, except in a dire emergency. That way, you're giving your employer – and more importantly, yourself – the message that you mean business. Work to your best ability during your work hours, but when it's time to leave, leave. Tasks expand to fill the time allotted for them. Work efficiently, get it done, and then go have fun.

It's also okay to make course corrections as you go. Once you begin taking steps, new insights and opportunities will come to you. Stay current, and reevaluate your direction from time to time.

For many of us, our work is an important part of our lives. But even if you love your work, you need time away to rejuvenate and feed body and soul. It's about balance. There's an old adage that nobody looks back on their life and wishes they had worked more. Take the time to think about what's important to you, and create a strategy to have a life that includes all of that. And do it now, while you can, so you're not regretting it later. Let Marc Allen be your model, and work smart, not hard. Enjoy your work, but also give priority to the other things that matter to you, and make time for them.

I want to emphasize that this process does take guts and persistence. You're bucking a well-entrenched system, and you might get a lot of flak from your family and friends. You may go through scary times when it doesn't look like it's working. This is a bold path. Whether you feel ready for it or not, start dreaming, planning and preparing. When the time is right, start taking steps. Then, stick it out, however long it takes. In time, you'll find yourself in a joy-filled place you could have only imagined before!

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Action Challenge

What would you like your life to look like 5 years from now? What is your ideal scenario? Write it out in the present tense. For example: "I am writing my third best-selling book. I have a beautiful home by the water. I spend time every day meditating. I take an exciting trip somewhere in the world at least once each year. Everything I want comes to me easily." And so on. Dream big. Allow yourself to imagine. Have fun!

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Wise Words

"The trouble with so many of us is that we underestimate the power of simplicity. We have a tendency, it seems, to overcomplicate our lives and forget what's important and what's not. We tend to mistake movement for achievement. We tend to focus on activities instead of results. And as the pace of life continues to race along in the outside world, we forget that we have the power to control our lives regardless of what's going on outside."

~ Robert Stuberg

"You can be lazy and still be persistent — and once you learn how to do that, you can accomplish a great deal."

~ Marc Allen

"Many people in the United States and throughout the industrialized nations misguidedly believe that the only way to have what we want is to work hard and long. There is an alternative: Be who you are first. When you focus on being first, this lets you do what you want to do, which lets you have what you need. We need to allow ourselves to be first; the rest will follow."

~ Patrick Williams, EdD, MCC

"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Bookshelf

(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)

The Type Z Guide to Success with Ease: A Lazy Person's Manifesto for Wealth and Fulfillment . . . Marc Allen

Visionary Business: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Success . . . Marc Allen

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich . . . Timothy Ferriss

As You Think . . . James Allen

Organization 2000: Achieving Success with Ease in the New World of Work . . . Leslie Bendaly

Take Time for Your Life . . . Cheryl Richardson

How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life . . . Alan Lakein

book Time Tactics of Very Successful People . . . B. Eugene Griessman

bookThe Power of Intention . . . Wayne W. Dyer

book Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How To Create A More Peaceful, Simpler Life From the Inside Out . . . Richard Carlson & Josephy Bailey

book The Secret . . . Rhonda Byrne

book The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham . . . Esther & Jerry Hicks

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© 2007 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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