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June 20, 2013, 6:00 am

Wake Up Call : We Need to Stop Reacting

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

Check Twitter. Did anyone RT my latest post? Did you anyone DM me?

Time to check email. Did that friend finally get back to me? Did anyone cool email me? I wonder what’s happening.

Now it’s on to the blog comments. Ah nothing good. Just a few comments. I should probably take the time to reply right now. Oh a new reader. I should see their blog.

I wonder what Jack is up to? Let’s check out Facebook. There has to be something interesting happening. That guy always posts funny videos. I should check it out. It could make my day.

And it goes on and on.

It’s time for a wake up call. We need to stop reacting.

I shared the truth about Twitter last year. Now I want us to wake up and stop reacting!

While Twitter and social media can be amazing for your business, chances are that you’re not using any platform for the right reasons. You’re just killing time and putting off the important. You’re inventing things to do so that you can avoid the important work and the work that scares you.

Why do we need to stop reacting?

We can’t always be waiting for something to happen. We have to make things happen.

I get caught in this trap far too often. I go on Twitter hoping for something to happen. I’m waiting for huge news to break. I want to be the first one to find out what’s happening. I want to know everything. I want more information.

In reality, I’m just wasting time and avoiding the important work.

If we’re always reacting, we won’t ever accomplish anything. Nobody will ever care about our work and we won’t get anywhere in life. That sucks. There’s so much to do out there and here we are waiting for something to happen on Facebook.

What can we do instead?

What are better options instead of always reacting?

Create. Do something. Be conscious of our actions. Stop making excuses. Stop waiting for something to happen that we can react to or share on Facebook.

Some articles I can pump out in a matter of minutes. Others take me hours, days, and even weeks. Why? Because I lose focus. I go from creating to reacting. I hate it. I imagine that this will be a constant struggle for the rest of my life. A struggle that I’m ready to conquer (most of the time)!

It’s so tough to create. Reacting is easy and requires no effort.

What if we want to watch tv, check Twitter, and hang out?

That’s cool because I love all of those things. A few weeks ago I found out about Sons of Anarchy and I became instantly hooked. I’m very compulsive. I had to watch every single episode. I had to know what happened next. I couldn’t stop watching. I went through the whole series in a few weeks. I finally found out what all of the hype about the show was about.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t watch our favorite shows or zone out in front of Twitter or laugh at friends on Facebook.

We just need to set conditions. The following conditions have helped me out:

  1. Do something important first. Get that item off your to-do list ASAP.
  2. Never start the day off with wasting time. Try not to directly go on Facebook or on email. Grab a coffee, do some pushups, and see what you can do.
  3. Delete the distractions when needed. I’m temporarily off Facebook. It was just causing me too much of a distraction. Now I haven’t gone on in a few weeks and have literally missed nothing!
  4. Get your friends involved. It’s much more fun when you can slack off with your friends.
  5. Plan for it. You can’t feel guilty about slacking off if you plan for it. I’ve already told myself that the next rainy day will be spent watching SOA with my brothers.

That’s how I slack off now without feeling guilty. There will always be days where you get nothing done. The trick is to limit those. Perfection isn’t the goal. The goal is to be a little better every day. If we can create a little more today than we did yesterday, we will be ahead.

What do you think about all of this stuff? Do you react far too much?

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May 30, 2013, 6:00 am

How You Can Help The World Out

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

We’re always talking about taking from the world and getting the most out of life. We all want to get the most out of everything. And that’s awesome.

Now it’s our turn to give back.

I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I’ve had plenty of lucky breaks, was at the right time at the right place, and have had good people enter my life. I’m very appreciative of this. There are others out there that are victims of their circumstances or just can’t catch a break.

I want to help as many people out as I can. This is why I love writing about finance. Lately, I’ve been looking for more ways to be helpful in the community.

How can you help the world out around you?

I do a lot of stupid things. I drink more than I should sometimes. I pull pranks. I laugh. I have fun. However, I do believe that every single person has it in them to give back a little bit.

The last few years, I’ve been on a kick of giving back. Some ways are super easy. Others require a little bit of effort.

How can you help out in your community?

Donate blood.

This is a no-brainer. I’ve been donating blood pretty often the last few years. I go as often as I can. It only takes me a few minutes and someone in need of blood will hopefully have it.

This takes at the most, an hour out of your day. The only annoying part is watching the needle go into your arm. Then you just chill out, drink some juice, and flirt with the older nurses.

Find a clinic around your home and donate!

Donate time.

This is something that I’ve been looking into. There are many ways that you can donate your time to help out.

For example, back in high school we had to take religion class because it was mandatory. In this class, we would go downtown to feed the homeless sandwiches that we made.

You can also donate time with something more fun like volunteering to be a soccer coach.

Have you thought about donating time?

Mentor someone.

I’ve found myself mentoring many younger folks, from siblings to relatives to random friends.

The truth is that I wish I had a mentor when I was younger.

Now I have business mentors and life mentors, but I didn’t have much help when I was a kid. I was the oldest of the three boys, so I had to figure everything out for myself. I got in trouble and made all of the mistakes. My brothers and younger relatives reaped the benefits of my trouble. Now they get away with everything.

For example  I spent a good five years wasting time at the gym. My youngest brother Adrian started training in high school with me and he made zero mistakes because I made them all for him.

I mentor a few younger friends right now. I enjoy it because I love to see them grow and overcome challenges (from joining a gym to losing virginity).

Give it a try. Find someone at your job, gym, or community to mentor. Let them learn from your mistakes.

Perform random kind deeds.

Be nice to a stranger. Help someone out. Do something nice unexpectedly.

Random kind deeds go a long way. I got this idea from the movie, Pay It Forward.

It can be something small like holding the door open for someone or buying lunch for a co-worker.

Fight for a cause.

I think that cancer sucks, especially cancer in little kids. There was recently a charity run in Toronto. It was for a summer camp that’s for kids with cancer. It was a 10km run.

I sort of hate running. I have never been a runner, unless it was during a soccer game or as a warm up for something. So what did I do? I entered this race!

I paid the entry fee that was designed to cover the expenses of the event/go towards this charity and I showed up for the run.

With no experience on a freezing cold morning with a 5am wake up call, I managed to complete the 10km run in less than an hour. What made it worth it was knowing that the money went towards an amazing cause. Plus, I got a pretty cool Nike workout shirt out of it.

That’s how I’ve been trying to give back.

What’s your take on this? Do you ever try to help out in the community? I would love to hear some new suggestions.

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February 11, 2013, 6:00 am

Do You Donate Money to Charity?

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

Do you donate money to charity?

This is the question that I wanted to throw out to you guys today. With tax season here, many topics are going to be discussed on personal finance blogs. Donating to charity is a highly-debated topic that I want to get some feedback on.

What are the benefits of donating to charity?

Charity donates are tax-deductible. You can claim your charity donations on your taxes to get some money back. So not only do you get to help out a cause that you believe in, but you can claim this on your taxes to help you out a little bit.

You really do make a difference. Depending on the charity and your own beliefs, you can really help out and make change. As corny as that sounds, it’s true. While there are obvious scams, there are plenty of good causes out there, from donating drinking water to poor towns in Africa to helping troubled youth afford college.

I personally went out of my way to donate money for research to the hospital where my middle brother had open heart surgery as a kid. I remember spending a whole summer there when I was younger. I also remember that everything was free (from video games to game nights). I couldn’t help but give back to this great cause.

It beats blowing the money on something totally useless. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes spend money foolishly. When I do, I wonder how someone else could have benefitted from this. Do you ever think about this? A $7 drink at bar gets you a little buzz. What could this do for a starving child?

Giving money away leads to happiness. I found an old study that shows how giving money away can increase your own personal happiness. Allow me to quote this article:

“New research reveals that when individuals dole out money for gifts for friends or charitable donations, they get a boost in happiness while those who spend on themselves get no such cheery lift.”

That’s pretty funny because I always notice an increase in my personal happiness when I do something for selfless reasons.

With that being said, there’s another issue worth looking at…

What if you can’t donate money to charity if you want to help?

Not everyone has the financial resources or ability to donate money. Most of us generally want to do good for the community. We just can’t always afford to take money away from our debt payments or retirement savings. That’s normal. No need to feel guilty. You can still help out.

What are some quick options for giving back without spending money?

  • Become a mentor. Do you enjoy working with younger folks? Whenever I can I try to mentor my younger brothers or any of their friends. Life can be nasty when you’re young. Many communities are looking for older/responsible adults to work with troubled youth as mentors. Could this be you?
  • Donate food. In high school, one of our teachers organized a group that would go out and feed the homeless every first Saturday of the month. It was simple: everyone took the bus downtown with sandwiches and handed them out.
  • Donate your time. Time is all that people need sometimes. I have a buddy that volunteers at a hospital. He walks around and speaks with elderly people who have no else to talk to. The time invested is minimal (only a few hours per week). The results are HUGE. He says that he sees the smiles on their faces as soon as he walks in. There are people who just need someone that will listen to them and show some basic care. Can you donate some of your spare time? It sure beats playing video games.

You don’t need money to give back. You can give back in a variety of ways, depending on what your resources are like.

Have you recently donated any money to charity? How did you decide which charity to help out?

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January 5, 2012, 6:00 am

What I Learned From Working Crappy Jobs

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

2012 is here! Man is there a lot of work that I want to get done. What about you? What do you have left to do? What do you want to start?

As much as I have left to learn and do, there’s plenty that I’ve learned over the years that’s worth sharing. Throughout high school and college I had many jobs that I didn’t care for at all. Sure, I could complain about these jobs. That wouldn’t be a fun post though. I wanted to have some fun and shared the good stuff.

You have a lot to learn from a crappy job. You can arguably learn from more a job that you don’t like than from your dream job.

What have I learned from working crappy jobs? I wanted to share a few lessons:

Knowledge is power.

Knowledge really is power. Without any sort of education or knowledge your options are going to be limited. You won’t have any power at all until you learn something new. Why would you want to hold yourself back? This is why I become a fan of learning at an early age. On top of my formal education, I’ve always taken online courses, read books, chatted with successful people, and took weekend courses. Knowledge is power. Try to learn as much as possible.

There are better options.

You have to remember that there are so many better options out there. Don’t ever feel like you’re stuck. You never are stuck. The only person holding you back is you. No matter how poor things seem to be going, you need to remember that there are better options out there. When in doubt, just take the next small step. Do some research about that degree in computer science you’ve always wanted to earn, enroll in a college class, do something. You are the one in control of your situation, and you are the one who can change it.

You put yourself in that position.

You’re in your current position for a reason. You can blame the world for your problems. You can point to circumstances out of your control. That’s fine once in a blue moon. You eventually need to stand up and take ownership for your life. You put yourself in your current position. You can’t blame anyone.

It’s cool if you’re intentionally staying in an entry level position because you don’t want a stressful job or because you don’t care for money. All that matters is that you understand why you are where you are. I’ve been in many lame situations. I’ve learned to accept that it’s simply my own fault.

You can get out.

The good news is that there’s always a way out. Since you put yourself in that position, you can easily take yourself out. You can always take the next small step or suck it up and fight through the tough times.

You need to work on the right things.

I don’t want to say that you should “work smart” because that phrase gets thrown around too casually. I will borrow a quote from Seth Godin on working hard on the right things:

“Hard work is about risk. It begins when you deal with the things that you’d rather not deal with: fear of failure, fear of standing out, fear of rejection. “

Technically speaking, doing a job that’s considered hard work is the easy way out. It takes real effort to take risk. It takes even more effort to stand up after every time that you fail. Working on the right things will always be a risk. Are you willing to take this risk?

Your attitude will always determine your altitude.

This is so true. Your attitude will always determine your altitude in life. This is a quote that I heard at a religion retreat in grade 7 and it has stuck with me ever since then. Do you ever see someone with a positive outlook on life stuck in debt and complaining about the recession? Nope. You always see the same negative people complaining about the same crap. You know how it goes, “we’re getting screwed on taxes,” or “I would get a better job if the economy was the booming.”

The excuses are always lame and the attitudes are always poor. We’ve all been guilty of having a poor attitude at some point in life. It’s a waste of time and gets you nowhere. A positive attitude is something that nobody can take away from you.

That’s what I learned from working jobs that I didn’t like in the past. You can learn a lot from your first job or that job that you just couldn’t question. Instead of complaining about the job, you can take your lessons learned and better yourself.

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December 29, 2011, 6:00 am

Did 2011 Suck? Let’s Kill it in 2012

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

I’m not a fan of resolutions or any of that crap. I think I hate resolutions because my gym gets rammed every January and there’s a plethora of scrawny guys in Affliction shirts leaving their 5lb weights on the bench press. Perhaps it’s because I’m totally annoyed by friends that throw out insane goals, never reach them, and then complain about their failure. How are you supposed to look like a bodybuilder if you never did a pushup in the last 6 months? How are you supposed to reach your goals if you’re too busy complaining?

Alright, before I get too carried away, back to the original topic…

Did 2011 suck for you? If it did then we need to work on getting everything under control in 2012.

What can you do to kill it in 2012 and have a much better year?

Produce something.

You’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t start working on anything. You need to produce something if you want to see real results. You need to actually sit down, focus and start getting real work done. You can consume all of the theory in the world, but it doesn’t mean anything until you finally start to apply it. I used to read about blogging, eBooks, and all of that stuff. I didn’t truly learn anything until I actually launched my own blog and then launched my own eBook a few years later. Doing is the best form of learning in my opinion.

There are no secrets or shortcuts here. Just remember that you’re not going to drown in sweat. If you have no motivation to get any work done, then you’re just in the wrong field. Time to cut your losses and move on to something else. If you have zero energy, then consider improving your diet or exercising more often.

Get more organized.

If you fail to plan then you plan to fail. It really is that simple. You need to get your act together. If you’re not organized then you won’t know if you’re coming or going.

How can you get more organized?

  1. Clear your workspace.
  2. Make your workspace more inspiring.
  3. Use stick-it notes to track everything.
  4. Throw out everything you don’t need.
  5. Close random windows.

I’m slowly working on this one. I gut my room out at least once a month. I want to have the most organized workspace possible. I try to keep all of my notes beside me. I also try to keep track of what I want to do, what I plan on doing, and what needs to be done. This why I’m not just idly sitting away on the compute.

Watch out for information overload.

I get caught up with this all of the time. I start reading and reading. I read so much and know so much, yet I do very little. It’s lame. You get nothing done when you’re consuming information and doing nothing about it. It’s cool to know a lot. It’s useless when you don’t do anything with this information. Stop consuming at a certain point. I recommend a steady ratio between consuming and producing.

Reward yourself.

If you meed the deadline of your new eBook or if you lose those 10lbs by January then you should reward yourself. When you have something to look forward you’re going to want to work harder naturally.

How can you reward yourself more often?

  • Plan a huge trip if you meet a huge goal.
  • Go out for a fancy dinner if you hit a small goal.

I could go on but only you know how to reward yourself for a job well done.

Punish yourself.

Negative reinforcement is the kick in the ass that we all need once in a while. I do this to myself all of the time. As I’m typing this it’s a Saturday night and I’m clearly not out. I didn’t hit a few goals and I thought it would make no sense for me to go out. Instead I stayed in to work on my goals and get some work done at the same time. I could’ve easily gone out, used the “it’s Saturday” excuse, and delayed my work again. Screw that. You need to punish yourself.

Those are my observations from the past and tips for moving forward.

How did 2011 turn out for you? What do you have planned for 2012?

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