Stop being anti-social: How Networking helps the future you

Stop being anti-social.  I get it, people suck a lot of the time, and you might be to the point where you say “It’s just easier to avoid people all together” or “I’d rather stay home than mingle with people I don’t really care about”.  While this may seem like the cool edgy thing to say, this same mentality will put you at a disadvantage in the future.

Being an outgoing person most of my life, I’ve found that networking with people comes easier for me than others, and I have also taken note of the side effects of both personality types and I can say with full confidence that I’m happy with my natural social disposition. 

For some, being social doesn’t come easy, and that’s OK, but I think it’s less of a lack of personality/skill and more of a lack of understanding of why being social is important.  Some people will see making an effort to be more social as “trying to be popular” or “waste of my time when I could be doing what I really want to do”, when they really just have no real motivation to do so.   Let this article be your motivation. 

Have you ever been with a friend or family member when a situation comes up or someone asks “I wish I could get some firewood right now, but I don’t know anybody who has any.”, then one of your friends, or that weird Uncle, says “I got a firewood guy” and proceeds to call them and solve the problem.  Simple instances like this one are one of the many reasons why networking is important.

Another reason to get out there and meet more people is how it opens doors for your potential future.  It’s not hard to understand how the more people you meet, the more experiences you’ll have, and the more opportunities that will be made available to you.  You can’t possibly expect to win the lottery and never buy a ticket. 

I can imagine some of you introverts are thinking “Well I’m not one to “be fake” just so I can get hooked up with things here or there”, but that’s not the point of being more social.  Anything you are not used to doing often is going to feel strange at the beginning, but over time you’ll find you can be just as real as you ever were with minimal effort on your part and maybe even start to enjoy it. 

Another motivation is that you don’t end up like the crazy cat lady or the weird old guy who lives down the street that nobody knows and or trusts because you didn’t develop enough personal and or professional relationships earlier in your life.

Below are some ways I think you can start being more social and pump up your networking game to give future you more options than you have now: 

Methods to help you socially network: 

  • Say yes to the invitations you get
    • I know, I know.. it would seem staying home would be the better of the two options when invited to go out to a function or a party, but you never know who you might meet or what unknown doors you might open if you do go.  Take the chance and you might not regret it. 
  • Make an effort to reach out to old acquaintances and family
    • Staying in touch with people you’ve already met is key, not only for their perception of you when you might need something they have access to, but also to be viewed as a “valuable resource”  to people in your life.
    • Go through your apps or old messages and ping the people you haven’t spoken to in a while.  Sometimes just a simple “Hey how’s it going” is enough to start a conversation and then you can blow them away when you’re not just reaching out to ask something of them. 
  • Make an effort when you’re already in a social situation
    • We’ve all been to a function or event and all you can think about is when you’ll have the opportunity to leave, but you can easily turn these seemingly negative situations into positive ones by forcing yourself to meet with or talk to specific people that would help future you out.  Yes it requires a little effort, but anything worth doing is worth doing right. 
    • You can even make it a game in your head to talk to at least 5 people or to get just one phone number or make plans with somebody for a future get together.  No matter how you go about it, someone is bound to take notice that you are not just a lump on a log and may have some value to them in one way or another. 
  • Be genuinely you
    • Most of us can tell when a person is being fake and it’s always off putting, so don’t be that person.  It’s ok if you don’t become best friends with everyone you meet so just be yourself.  When you’re networking the goal isn’t to like 100% of every person out there, it could just be the 20% of a person that you get along with and it’s ok to enjoy them only for that 20% and that number could improve over time. 
  • Don’t be a flake
    • This is my final and probably most important aspect of being social.  People hate, and I mean HATE, a person who makes plans and cancels at the last minute.  You may think your excuse of “My kid is sick” or “I had an emergency pop up” is going to cut it, but they know you’re just being a flake and they will be less apt to make plans with you in the future.  
    • Part of social networking is also building your own personal brand/reputation and being a flake does no good for it. 

Making simple changes to your social behavior can have extremely beneficial outcomes ranging from new job opportunities, new friendships or even finding the love of your life, but none of these doors will be open to you unless you put in the effort.   People can be terrible sometimes, but we can also be amazing and you are one of them, so be the best version of you that you can be. 

Streamline your life: Technology as a tool

There’s no doubt we live in the AGE OF TECHNOLOGY.  Sure, a lot of us, usually the older generations, wish we could return to a simpler time when people weren’t staring at their phones all day and things of that sort, and as much as I agree with a lot of it, that’s not the point of my article today.  The technology we have at our disposal today is vast, and in my opinion, HIGHLY underutilized.  

We have “phones” in our pocket (which are actually sophisticated computers), GPS systems built into cars, digital means of paying bills and much more that are used more and more each day with generations growing up with them, but just because you own the technology and have it available doesn’t mean you’re utilizing it to it’s greatest benefit to you.  My hope with this article is to maybe realize more ways we can streamline our life to take some of the guessing work out of planning and hopefully free up more time that you can dedicate to more beneficial pursuits. 

Let’s focus on probably the most popular piece of technology today, THE SMARTPHONE.  Unless you’re making a point of not getting wrapped up in the life of always being on your phone and own a flip phone, you probably have a smartphone of your own.  It’s hard to deny the benefits of a smartphone and how much time is saved, but also how much time it drains with non-productive activity.  This goes along with the “balance” that I talked about in my previous article My 6 Elements of how to live a life fulfilled , but I’m going to talk about the time it CAN save this go around along with it’s benefits.. 

For the ease of reading and your own attention span, I’m going to just list out some of the apps and tips that I use in my own daily life and other methods that I’m simply going to speculate on since I by no means apply all of this advice in my own life as I am no more perfect of a human than any of you.  

Before listing these out, you must remember that simply downloading or having these apps available to use does just about as good as buying a book on a diet and not implementing it actually.  You must also train yourself via habit or sheer determination to actually apply them in your day to day life.  One way I do this is with reminders on my phone.  

Reminders: Nearly all smartphones have a reminder feature, whether it be on your calendar, a native feature on your phone or one of the many apps that exist for such a purpose.  Reminders are a very easy way to not only remind yourself about important tasks that you must do for work (like a meeting with finance at 2pm), but it can also be used to motivate yourself and remind yourself that you are trying to do better in life and in specific areas (like take your vitamins or a reminder to work on that book you keep putting off).  One I use personally is a daily reminder that tells me to go and talk to each one of my kids individually if only for a moment as life moves quick and small important things like this can be neglected. 

Calendar: The calendar features on your phone or email are used by many for work, but I believe it is neglected when it comes to personal things.  If you treat the important things in your life like you would for deadlines that you must meet for your job, your life can be just as organized if not a little more manageable.  Not only can you use the calendar feature for reminders like I mentioned above, but you can also coordinate with those in your life more effectively by sharing your personal calendar with those that would benefit.  One example of this would be to share your calendar with your spouse in conjunction with reminders for events like school plays, or medical appointments.  This will limit the time spent sending texts and forgetting things that may or may not have been communicated a few times prior.  

Maps and Navigation: I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us use the GPS feature on our phone pretty regularly, if not, you should.  I’ve noticed that even those who use the navigation features on their phone or other apps don’t always use them to their fullest.  Doing simple things like saving destinations that you have typed in your phone multiple times can help minimize time and frustration when you have to head there next.  Also sharing your location with someone who is expecting you can be made much easier by using the “Share ETA” option on most smartphones instead of wasting time typing out where you’re at and how long you think you’ll be.  There are also many other features in navigation apps that can make your life easier if you take the initial time to discover them.

Travel: Other than navigation (mainly driving) there are other great travel related apps that you can utilize to your benefit that only take a little time to download and set up.  If you travel regularly for work or pleasure you know how it goes; you have to book your flight, you get there, where is a good place to eat, where is the nearest hotel, what events are happening nearby that I can check out?  Apps like Southwest (for flying), Uber (transportation), Yelp (where to eat),  Airbnb (for lodging) Local, by Facebook (for finding events happening nearby) can answer most of your travel related questions with just a few short clicks instead of riffling through multiple google results. 

Health and well-being: Convenience and time saving apps and methods are great, but benefiting yourself from a health perspective is equally if not greater in importance.  No only can you set a reminder like I talked about above to work out, but you can also have an abundance of workout videos, health trackers, diet monitors and running trackers to help you gauge your performance and ensure you’re on track.  Besides just physical health, you can also work out your mind with other apps for meditation and mind exercises to keep you mentally sharp. 

A lot of what I’ve said above might seem like common sense or things you may have already known about, but I guess the main idea of this article is to remind you that by doing a little work up front and thinking ahead for the purpose of streamlining your life and day to day activities you can make a huge impact in how you operate your life by saving valuable time and utilizing the tools that you’ve already paid for.   Embrace technology and use it to its fullest, but also do not become reliant on it.  

Priorities: What are yours, realistically?

If someone asked you what your top 5 life priorities are in general, what do you think you’d say?  If you’re married with children you might say “my family’s care” as one example, or if you’re single and trying to work your way up the corporate ladder you might say “My career” as another example.  However, not many people have actually taken the time to sit down and realize what their priorities actually are and those who think they have probably haven’t taken the next step to ensure their daily actions/way of life support what they think are their priorities. My goal with this article is just to walk you through the thought process to make sure there’s nothing you missed or any habits you need to change. 

For the sake of this article I’ll pick some generic priorities that most of us can agree on, but also may differ in your own list of top 5 priorities.  This will give you an idea on how to structure them and how to break them down so you can actually make a change in the desired areas. 

Personal priorities examples:

  1. Health and welfare of myself and immediate family
    • Are you eating healthy/working out regularly? 
    • Do you encourage a healthier lifestyle for those around you? 
    • Do you go for regular checkups with the doctor? 
    • Do you smoke or drink too much? 
  2. Financial stability/freedom
    • Are you increasing credit debt or paying it off? 
    • Do you buy frivolous things at the gas station or store? 
    • Are you working extra hours or side jobs to earn more? 
    • Are you paying too much for “entertainment” like Hulu or Netflix? 
  3. Improving interpersonal relationships
    • Do you stay in contact with family regularly? 
    • Do you celebrate your friends’ success and encourage them? 
    • Do you reach out and help when you don’t have to? 
    • Do you talk behind your “friends” backs often? 
  4. Education
    • Have you mapped out a plan to get the degree/education you desire? 
    • Do you say you don’t have enough time, but waste hours on T.V.?
    • Are you racking up debt for a degree that is basically useless? 
    • Are you continuing to further yourself educationally or do you stop with a degree? 
  5. Actually enjoying life
    • Do you take time away from the madness to have fun? 
    • When was the last time you planned a real vacation? 
    • Do you let others tell you that your hobby is stupid or a waste of time? 
    • Do you find yourself more stressed than relaxed on a daily basis? 

These may all seem like pretty simple ideas, but even myself, while writing this, was forced to see the flaws that I make that do NOT align with my own priorities.  It’s almost a “gut check” if you will, that I believe that people today could do well by experiencing. What are your priorities in life?

Planning for 2021: A practical New Year’s Resolution

2020 has been a wild year.  From COVID, to the election and everything in between 2020 will be one for the books and most of us are looking forward to the next year, like we do every year.  “[insert year] will be MY YEAR” or “[insert year] is the year things start to change for the better” are some of the posts and comments you’ll hear as we get closer to New Years Eve, but putting hope aside, we all know the year changing doesn’t mean squat.  

Keeping reality in mind, what are some things we can do to ACTUALLY make a REAL change in 2021 that will have tangible results.  Below are some small, realistic and impactful changes/habits that I believe will leave you in a better situation than you started at the end of 2021. 

Health – Yes, most of us would like to lose a few pounds in 2021, but setting lofty goals will likely result in failure and disappointment, we are only human after all.  I’m sure most of you have heard of these before, but I feel reiterating them might jog some motivation in a few people.  

  • Park further away from the entrance – Easy concept, but by actually putting it in practice can seriously add some “steps” to your life resulting in more calories burnt and a healthier heart/cardiovascular system. . 
  • Take the stairs when you don’t have to take an elevator – This is hard for most people, including myself, but just like parking further away from an entrance, over time taking the stairs can help you out, especially if you work in or visit a building with stairs/elevator daily.
  • Cut out just ONE major junk food for the year – What’s something that you intake often that you know for sure needs to go?  For me it’s soda, for others it might be candy or ice cream.  Now I’m not saying to cut it out of ALL occasions, but making a focus to cut the “habit” of it out of your life can have a drastic impact on your health. 

Finances – Most of us don’t need a new years resolution to wish we had a better grasp of our finances or to wish we had more money, but hoping without a plan is only a wish.  Budgets are tight, especially with COVID closing down jobs and people barely making ends meet.  Since I’m not a millionaire, I’m obviously not a subject matter expert on finances, but below are some practices that I believe any billionaire would agree with me on. 

  • Start actually saving more – Don’t we all wish we had the extra money to set aside for a rainy day?  Saving doesn’t mean you have to throw a large chunk into your savings account, but it does mean you have to put SOMETHING in there and NOT TOUCH IT, that’s the hard part.  
  • Invest – just like a savings account it’s easy to say “I just don’t have enough to invest”, but you do.  There’s plenty of easy apps out there like acorn.com or stash.com that you can invest a couple dollars a week into industries or companies that YOU believe are on the rise.  Also cryptocurrencies are hot right now and easy to purchase with any budget. 
  • Stop buying “small stuff” – Stopping at the gas station to get gas or grab an item is commonplace for most of us, but unfortunately it’s also common place for us to convince ourselves that we “deserve” that bag of chips or that pack of candy that only cost $2.  That $2 will add up and more often than you think.  Make it a point to NOT buy anything you DON’T NEED. 

Interpersonal Relationships – Whether it be with dating, family, work or friends, we’d all benefit more from improving these relationships and how we interact with and prioritize them.  We tend to neglect some or all of these areas at some point, that’s just life, but practicing the methods below will improve things and just might help open networking doors that would otherwise remain closed. 

  • Romantic Relationships – Assuming you’re not single, there are some forms of “thoughtfulness” that most of us don’t show the person we deem “most special” in our life as we’d like, and showing a little extra can drastically improve things and prevent negative outcomes from neglect.  One way to ensure you don’t neglect them is setting a recurring alert on your phone to just tell them you love them or to do a simple act of love such as unloading the dishwasher or just giving them a hug can make a huge difference.  
  • Distant Family/Acquaintances – You don’t want to be that son or daughter who never calls or that grandkid that only reaches out to Nanna and Poppy during the holidays, or even that friend that never tries to connect.  You can set a reminder like the example for romantic relationships above or you can try and make it a habit while you’re watching your favorite show to text one family member or old friend during the commercial just saying you miss them.  Not only is it nice and makes them feel loved and missed, but you’re also keeping doors open that normally wouldn’t be.  
  • Professional Relationships – Business is business, but more often than not business gets done easier and more efficiently when you have some kind of personal report with those professional connections.  This is a huge reason why “happy hours” and “client outings” are such an important part in sales and business, it builds confidence that you can trust the other person and their word just a little more because you’ve connected with them on a level OTHER than just business.  “But my job isn’t like that” you say, maybe yours isn’t a savvy businessy type job like sales or something, but the benefits remain the same.  Just taking a minute out of your day to ask how your coworker is doing and be genuinely engaged can help improve your work relationships and them possibly helping you out when you need them most. 

Aspirations & Goals – Most of us have things we’d like to do outside of our relationships and work, but always seem to take a backseat or the motivation just dies out.  I always tell people “Motivation will get you going, but habit is what gets you there”.  This can be applied to money, fitness or learning a new skill.  Below are some ways that I believe can keep the fire burning that pushes you to make your goals into reality. 

  • Making time and the time known to others – Not only do you need to set aside time to work toward your goals, but you also need to let those closest to you know that it is important to you.  You may have to deal with friends or family telling you that “it’s stupid”, “a waste of time” or they might just get mad that you’re willing to do something without them during the time you would normally do something with them, but if they value you, they will respect the time you take to work toward your goals.
  • Actually make a plan – I’ve talked to a lot of people who have plans, but have never actually sat down to map that plan out to see what the next step is or if that step is realistically attainable.  By sitting down and learning what point A and B look like you’ll have a clearer understanding of what it takes to get to C and everything in between. 
  • Networking & Learning – Get into the industry, market, scene or whatever you want to call the “space” that your aspirations or goals exist in the real world.  Take 10 minutes out of each day to follow a blog regarding what you’re into, add someone on LinkedIn that is a leader in that industry.  Instead of listening to music the whole ride home, listen to a podcast with experts in the area you’re interested in.  Just by slowly dipping your toes into the water you’ll find that before long you’re nearly fully submerged in what you WANT to be doing instead of only wishing you were. 

As I always say, I’m not an expert on these things and I’m not pretending like I follow all of these suggestions to a T, but it’s also hard to argue that by keeping these methods in mind and applying them more often that you wouldn’t have a better outcome and a better year come December 2021.  Wish you all a very Happy Holidays!

My 6 elements of how to live a life fulfilled

This is something I’ve been wanting to put on paper for a little while now.  Over the past few years I’ve developed a pretty solid group of friends and we’ve had many MANY conversations about nearly everything you can talk about.  During these conversations, I’ve noticed little “nuggets” of what I believe is truth pop up, and after doing some digging conversationally with my friends, we’re all pretty much in agreement that these “elements”, if paid attention to and applied correctly, can and will drastically improve one’s life.  The trick however is to actually practice utilizing these key elements and I for one have not come close to perfecting this just yet, but I will keep trying because even if you only have success practicing one or two, you’ll still see improvement in your life. 

This list might seem somewhat generic or obvious, but there’s more to each of these than what you think at first glance:

  • Perspective
  • Passion
  • Balance
  • Patterns
  • Timing
  • Love

Perspective – Is the grass greener on the other side?  It’s usually not, but looks can be deceiving and what you experience personally and internally can play a huge part in how resilient you can be.  This is why it’s great to try and have “perspective” on tap in the back of your mind to help you overcome adversity and to realize that you might not have it as bad as you think.  This way of thinking helps me personally maintain a certain level of positivity or optimism when others may go down the path of negativity which can, and usually does, lead to you making poor decisions, turning an already bad situation even worse.  

Passion – Let’s not confuse this one.  I’m not talking about your “passion for your children or family”, I’m talking about your personal individual passions, the thing or things that make life interesting and exciting for YOU.  Are you an artist?  Do you wake up everyday with almost a NEED to get in front of a blank canvas? That’s passion.  Are you an entrepreneur?  Do you wake up everyday with almost a NEED to create, innovate and succeed in your projects? That’s passion.   Without passion in our lives we’re only either surviving or just going through the motions and neither are preferred if you’re pursuing a fulfilled life. 

Balance –  This can also be considered “moderation”, but not exclusively.  Being cognisant of what sort of things you’re balancing in your life can help you identify areas you should give more attention or maybe spend less time doing.  Spending too much time in the office at work might be good for your career and your bank account, but are you neglecting your family and social life?  It can even be small things that end up having a larger impact on your life such as food intake.  Maybe drink less soda during the day and increase water intake.  Making even minor changes to your balancing act can have a huge impact on your life. 

Patterns –  This one is kind of fooey and hooha, but you can’t deny its existence.  You see patterns everyday, the habits you have, the route you take to work, the foods we eat and also the way we treat each other.  It might take your recognition of certain behavioral patterns to realize a negative person should no longer be a part of your life.  Patterns might also include cycles of life, like realizing that things come and go, and get worse before they get better, but remembering patterns of life can give reassurance that things can and will change and you can play a part in that process. 

Timing – Timing might seem like it’s related to patterns, and it can be at times, but I wanted to focus more so on WHEN you chose TO do or NOT to do things or actions.  In joke telling, timing is everything, if you fail to deliver the punchline in time or if you deliver it too soon, you’ll not get the response from the crowd that you’re looking to get, same is true with life.  Choosing to talk to your significant other about a touchy topic right before bed when you both are tired already might not be the right timing for that conversation.  Also, deciding to make that new car purchase before you finish paying off that outstanding credit card might be bad financial timing.  Practicing good timing benefits you by avoiding the headaches and hardships from acting rashly or without thinking things through. 

Love – How many things have been written, talked about, sung about, or thought on when it comes to the topic of love.  I’ll spare you my version of that, but one other aspect of love that I feel doesn’t get enough attention is just simply.. keeping in mind, even in times of anger, despair, hurt and troubles.  Keeping love in mind, and the knowledge that love is the most important aspect of life and that’s what makes life worth living, makes it a lot easier to practice the rest of these elements and how to implement them more effectively in your life.  

I hope you enjoyed this read and more importantly I hope you at least try to keep these elements in mind when going about your day to day life, I will also try and do the same and maybe together we can live a more fulfilled life making all of our lives collectively more enjoyable.

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