Tag Archives: brandon sobotka

Is Accumulative Stress Zapping Your Energy

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The New Stress

Today’s stress is not your grandparents stress, it’s a new “breed”.  It’s consistent, repetitive and often overlooked.  It hits you relentlessly from all angles and it accumulates.  You might recognize the initial symptoms as low energy, trouble focusing on tasks and a mind that “won’t shut off”.  Sound familiar?

Most of these symptoms don’t seem like anything too scary or abnormal.  Think of how many times you’ve had low energy, forgetfulness, a wired mind and fluctuating hunger.  We experience these quite frequently and without thought we reach for the quick fix.

How often is coffee the first thing we think about in the morning as we roll out of bed and drag ourselves to the kitchen?  How about the 5 hour energy or red bull around mid-day for a little pick up?  And after work…you wish for the opportunity to kick your feet up on the couch without interruption.

Accumulative Stress

There are many stressors that we overlook.  Many of which we engage in daily.  You see our brain’s act instinctively to real or perceived threats, setting off our fight or flight response over and over.  This repeated stimulation from stressors leads to a cascade of reactions within the body eventually draining us of our energy.  Here’s a look at 5 stressors we underestimate in our daily lives:

  • TechnologyA study of 4,100 adults shows heavy use of technology increases stress. Today we use a cell, tablet, handheld games and laptops daily. We’re damn near “on call” or open to distraction, interruption, and intrusion 24-7
  • Television– According to a recent study, observing stress can stimulate the stress response. That includes observing it on TV. The average American watches nearly 5 hours of TV per day, just over 34 hours per week according to a recent Nielsen report. Also, TV’s have exploded in size and features becoming sensory overload for your nervous system with high volume commercials, flashing images and surround sound, 3D movies.
  • Noise Pollution– Sound is so prevalent these days we find ourselves wondering where’s the peace and quiet and searching for ways out of today’s Decibel Hell. The old neighborhood walk now comes with an ipod pumping the hottest jams in our ears. The old weekend drive with the windows down is now interrupted by high traffic, loud stereo systems, and endless construction. And the old quiet coffee shop is no more. It’s now filled with people’s Bluetooth conversations about their latest work project dilemma.
  • Job Expectations– There are many factors for stress in the workplace. Today’s professional demands have not only risen, they’re pass-fail now. (AKA produce or you’re fired.) You’re expected to have constant energy & measurable productivity with minimal downtime to refresh. Both volume and magnitude of work has seemed to grow with minimal increase in time, payment or recognition. (I just threw up in my mouth. Sorry, I remember those days. Not cool.)
  • Food– our food quality has declined over the years (especially in the U.S.). The majority of people consume foods high in bad fats, sugars, processed ingredients, pesticides and other chemicals all recognized as a type of poison (stress) to the body. Stress, eating crap on the go and decreased activity have lead to nearly 70% of Americans being overweight or obese. We’ve become the fat, sick and the walking dead (no, I’m not a zombie fanatic.)

Add these consistent, repetitive, every day, multiple times a day stressors to the major stressors (career, money and family) and you can understand how it takes a toll on your energy so quickly. You literally deal with layers and layers of stress including money stress, relationships stress, family stress, parenting stress, social stress and trying to clean the house while the kids and dogs make a mess stress nearly every day and it’s time to do something about it.

Know you know the effects of hidden stressors.  Take a moment to recognize just how often you use these and pay even more attention to your accumulative stress.  If you feel consistent dips in energy, step back and analyze where you can make changes.  Even the smallest changes can make a lasting impact in improving your energy levels more consistently.

Which accumulative stressor is slowing you down the most?  Start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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2 Brand Building Strategies to Increase Credibility

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The right marketing tools will land you high dividends not only in profits, but in visibility and credibility. Finding brand building strategies that work for you in your business separate you from other experts and growing businesses. The faster and more consistently you pinpoint these the better, but where do we start and which methods are best?

There’s no perfect strategy or ideal tool for increasing leads and landing new customers. Remember, the market is ever-changing and adaptability is the name of the game as an emerging entrepreneur. Every market and each business has different dynamics to consider for gaining traction.

Nearly all variables come down to your ability to align your expertise, systems and solutions to your clients present needs and future desires. If you can find multiple methods for seamlessly integrating your customer’s problems with simple, effective solutions your business will steadily rise above others.

Writing for Brand Building

Blogs– Sharing valuable tips, tools and tactics consistently is the best way to grow your influence. Blogging is one way to build your authority, share your expertise and help others overcome problems. Each time your audience achieves a goal or simply feels a sense of progression you build a bridge of trust with them.

Posting regularly deepen your relationship by being the reliable expert with great stuff. Your consistency and their confidence in you brings a steady stream of traffic to your website, increase social shares, and acquires higher quality backlinks.  All of these improve your site SEO, moving you past thousands of competitors with boring, static pages.

Customers looking to hire industry and subject matter experts instantly head to search engines. Recent data shows 16+ blogs a month generates 3x more traffic than those posting 1-4 per month.  If you’re not much of a writer, consistency is the initial key and I recommend starting with a modest goal of blogging weekly and progress from there.

Publication Articles– Much like blogging, however you’re writing to serve the audience of an outside publication. Look both locally and online for places you know you can bring value to. Most importantly, choose publications that align with your values and target audience.

Look into newspapers, industry specific magazines and major publications. “Getting in” as a contributing writer can boost your credibility, increase traffic to your site (where you have plenty of great blogs to read) and land you some new targeted customers.

Research, write and submit an article that fits the desired publications style, guidelines and is helpful for their audience members and you may be calling yourself a writer soon.

Books– Arguably the most effective brand building tool is a published book. Becoming an author does take considerably more time and effort than blogging or writing articles, however with the rise of technology and self-publishing it’s easier than ever to access the needed resources.

Once published, as long as your book is up-to-date and relevant, you can leverage it in your business forever. Use your book to gain attention and interest on the front end promotion of a webinar, include it as a bonus within a new product package or sell it on the backend of any speaking engagement.

Don’t start writing until you decide a publishing method as each has it’s pros and cons. Once you pick whether traditional, hybrid or self publishing fits your business strategy, complete your book and leveraging it for both a credibility boost and revenue generation.

Speaking for Brand Building

Vlog– The video version of a blog is a great place to start if you’re good in front of a camera. Consider your audience preferences before you start shooting. If your audience absolutely loves reading then video may be part of your content mix, but not a primary strategy.

Video will help your audience not only learn from your knowledge, but they’ll have the opportunity to connect with you as a person. Video allows them to see if you’re the type of person they want to engage with, follow and later work with. If you’re not much of a writer or blogger you can record yourself speaking on a topic to help clearly share your message in writing.

Take some time to think about how you want to reveal yourself to the world. Decide your image, value and presence on camera. Most importantly, define how you want to serve the audience, the values and beliefs you stand for and what people can expect from you. Learn more about video and you will attract people to engaged in your content.

Speaking/Keynote– If you’re a credible expert and entertaining then speaking is powerful in expanding your brand influence. Being a speaker provides you the opportunity to share your message to the masses or instantly impact small, influential groups. This is especially effective if you have a distinct system or methodology you provide via product or service.

Speaking allows you to not only connect with people on a person level like video, but they get to experience you live. This kills any thoughts of how rehearsed, edited or phony (for the haters) others may think you are on video. If you have great stage presence, good with your voice and diction and come well prepared you can land high paying keynote spots; great for revenue and credibility boosting.

Overcome stage fright, know your stuff and avoid being a perfectionist and this strategy is prime to grow your brand. Practice by speaking anywhere and everywhere there is the opportunity to share with your audience. Raise your speaking game well enough and you earn opportunities influence the masses of the biggest companies and share the stage with top experts.

Audio– Audio may not sound like a speaking strategy, but ultimately it’s you sharing your knowledge behind a microphone. Audio options are great strategic tools for those who feel uncomfortable with video or writing. Live or recorded content is a great way to share and connect with your audience or subscriber list as you build your writing and on camera skills.

Create a plan and a schedule for an audio version of a blog to share insights and industry trends. Utilize teleseminars or screen cast webinars as a great way to offer value for free or as a revenue source. Lastly, you can do podcasts (as the host or a guest) to interview, learn and connect with other subject matter experts. This is a great way to find strategic partners.

To build a powerful brand it’s important to nail down several effective strategies for building credibility and influence. Although, these aren’t the only methods, it’s these two strategic staples that have stood the test of time for growing businesses.

Use them consistently and strategically for everything your brand needs to grow. Gain high impact with quick and relative ease from online video and publication articles. Or you can enjoy the long term effect and credibility explosion of putting considerably more work into books and keynote speaking.

Which of the brand building tools could benefit you most this year? You can start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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6 Strategies for Sustaining a Success Mindset

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How do we know which decision (of the many) will be the game changer? Which choice will result in landing the perfect client, creating a market-shifting product or which partners will propel our brand influence to new heights? Throughout your career as an entrepreneur or not, there will be multiple opportunities to make “the right” choice, but how do you know what’s best for you?

Truth is you already know the answer. You know that no matter how hard you research, analyze and meticulously check every detail there is never a perfect choice. There are too many angles to evaluate and too many perspectives to consider in getting it all right. There is ALWAYS something we miss, forget or don’t fully understand.

But, there is an alternative. This uncommon track can lead you to health, wealth and success (whatever that is for you) despite any slips, stumbles, and struggles.

Broken Mindset

I started my first business in 2007 and it was reasonably successful, it paid the bills and made a little profit. However, ultimately it failed as I wasn’t fulfilled while on this journey. I tried a couple more times at this entrepreneur thing…once failing due to lack of revenue because of no defined strategy or systems and then because of an unclear brand and failed marketing efforts.

I lied. Here’s the truth. When looking back (hindsight is 20-20) I didn’t fully understand strategy, branding or marketing. Therefore, I couldn’t create the needed systems to win. That part is true. What failed me, however, was my mindset. It was essentially me failing myself. Here’s why:

  1. I was afraid to admit I didn’t know these skills or have the business expertise to get the job done. I wanted to look smart and successful.
  2. I was lazy and didn’t give the effort to learn and do what I needed in order to overcome my areas of weakness.
  3. I wouldn’t let go of other things (for instant gratification)I believed to be important to me.

My attitude, interpretation and response to nearly every important decision had failed me. I was living with what I call a “broken” mindset. All of these thoughts were fragmented instead of focused, pessimistic instead of positive and problematic instead of productive. I had believed I knew it all and all other feedback was useless. Luckily, I had enough emotional endurance and found ways to stop sabotaging myself.

Strategies for a Success Mindset

Growth and sustainability in business comes from being able to consistently push your own personal boundaries. Business performance is people performance.  For me, that wouldn’t have been possible without the following strategies for a success mindset:

  • Be Clear– There’s not much out there more influential to your growth and progress than specifically defining what it is you want. Take the time to explicitly paint the BIG picture of where you want to end up, the exact outcomes and the process to get there. You may not have all these answers yet, but get them as clear as you can and start now. Keep tightening up your clarity as you go.
  • Be Bold– You will know you are on the right path if you find yourself a little afraid and intimidated. This is a good thing to be aware of and then take the steps to move with it. Be courageous and step into your fear and resistance more often. Comfort with discomfort will build your confidence enough to take leaps instead of just single steps.
  • Be Open– If you want more in life then you have to open your mind to new learning. Open up to new perspectives, new angles, new skills, new people, new cultures, etc. The great thing about learning is that it can happen anywhere. Be creative and productive in this process, learn new things and you’ll soon experience evolution.
  • Be More– In my initial work with clients I’ll tell them to press outside their comfort zone. They often respond by telling me, “I don’t know, that’s not my area” or “I can’t do that, that’s not me”. I reply back, “Exactly!” There is always a next level you and if you want to get there you have to transcend your current YOU. Who you are now won’t get you where you want to go, you must become more. Who must you become to grow and give more?
  • Be Synergistic– Doing this alone may be possible, but there is a special magic that comes with having a community of people who are dedicated to supporting your growth and success. At minimum you should have a dozen people in, what I call an, “achievement alliance” or a group of individuals committed to helping you achieve the next levels in your life and business. Find people who are better than you, who will be radically honest with you and spend a lot of time with them.
  • Be Strategic– Before leaping into anything it’s always important to consider the possible pros and cons along the journey. Don’t make the mistake of only thinking about the initial ups and downs. Evaluate future outcomes and do your best to predict long term and short term problems, surprises and possibilities. Be smart by defining which of these align with your strengths and ambitions while also avoiding as much risk as possible (without losing efficiency and effectiveness).

“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”- Dr. Carol Dweck

No one else cares as much about your destination as you do. You are the driver of success in your business. You decide your mindset for living and fulfilling your dream.

No matter how ambitious a goal you have, your mindset will always be a big part of achieving it. Without the right mindset, the pressure of our work environment, fear about our finances and doubt about our skills can stomp out our personal and professional desires.

What mindset killers have you faced this week? 

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4 Benefits of Stepping into Your Fear

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The things we love most come with the greatest amount of fear. It’s because you love it so much that fear intensifies. When putting your heart and soul into something you don’t want it to fail. You don’t want to think you can’t succeed doing what you love.

When you choose a path of purpose fear gives you direction, it’s like your inner compass. Fear is good. The unpleasant emotion we feel is when we are threatened or perceive a threat, however in today’s world real, true threats are becoming less and less. When’s the last time you stepped out of your car to find a tiger staring you down?

We live most of our lives avoiding “threats” in our comfort zone. Our brains natural instincts are to keep us out of harm’s way, to keep us feeling comfortable and safe. But, it’s outside our comfort zone that we find a life of happiness and purpose.

Applying all of our gifts to something significant is fulfilling and where we find meaning in our lives. We want to be a part of something bigger and show others what IS possible. Whether you are BEING the change, creating change in others or making a bigger difference in the world it’s how you apply fear that can be the deciding factor between you achieving success or living life comfortably content.

My Fear

For a long time I resisted pursuing entrepreneurship despite my heart being pulled towards it. I allowed my fear to run me off, when instead I should have followed it as a sign. Here’s a quick list of some of the fears I experienced:

  • A fear of the unknown- I didn’t know what’s pulling me in this direction I’ve never explored, what’s to be expected?
  • A fear of what family, friends and girlfriends would think- if I took a leap without knowing what I was doing or getting myself into or even worse failed, how would they view me?
  • A fear of change- If I did this things will have to change and how much work will this be?
  • A fear of missing out- If it’s a lot of work what will I have to miss to sustain it?
  • A fear of rejection or not being good enough- If I do this I want to be excellent, but what if I can’t live up or what if they don’t like me?

10 years I ran from these and a variety of other fears only to see my dreams fall further away and my life crumble the farther they fell.

Step into Your Fear

It wasn’t until I became desperate enough and stepped into my fear that everything changed. And it was then that I learned fear is to be followed, it’s not a deterrent. Here are some of the rewards you can expect from your courage and stepping into your fear.

  1. Improved Self-Confidence– Confidence is a tricky mix of competence, courage and clarity. The great thing about stepping into your fear, there is no losing. Either you win or you grow in knowledge, wisdom, skill or clarity. This helps give you direction and builds greater confidence to take on bigger, stronger fears.
  2. Deeper Connections– We don’t want others recognizing our slight slip-ups, hidden blemishes, or the kinks in our armor. However, it’s in our adversity and vulnerability where we gain virtue and great respect. Sharing our struggles doesn’t show weakness, it reveals strength and it creates deeper bonds with others. People see character in crashing, crumbling and climbing back up. There’s courage in simply sharing truth no matter if it’s sunshine and rainbows or dark and stormy weather.
  3. Comfort in Change– No matter when, where or how you begin; the journey of change is rarely what you wished for. Like a ship at sea, no path is permanent; you’re ever-adjusting until you reach your destination. Sometimes there’s a trail and other times you’ll be called to blaze your own. It’s at this time you no longer stumble upon doubt, uncertainty and shame; instead you take pride, find flow and experience peace.
  4. Creative Freedom– When we’re not isolated by fear we begin think outside the box. We see new opportunities and explore unmeasured methods. We no longer believe in boundaries, rather we push for possibilities. In this sea of possibility you’ll find many of the hidden joys of life.

The majority of people succumb to fear each and every day, you don’t have to be one of them.

Dreams have a greater magnetic pull than fear. Yes, fear can overcome you if you allow it. But, you are strong. Find a reason greater than your excuses, a clear dream over procrastination or an ambition that ignites your inner fire, and you’ll conquer your fears.

Soon, you’ll look back on your struggle and understand it wasn’t that scary after all.

What would be possible in your life if you could run right through your fear today?

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Honest Communication Doesn’t Hurt

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You know the saying, “Truth Hurts”. After we look a little deeper into how honest communication affects us and others in our lives you may challenge the thought.

Have you ever pitched a project to client, received a “no thank you”, and wondered why? Wouldn’t it be great to know why you’ve failed? But why is it, when a friend points out that your presentation really was pretty terrible, or a colleague notices that your proposal pretty much killed any opportunity and tells you about it; we don’t want to hear it?

Like most, we’re looking for encouragement and positive motivation. Of course we all like a little coddling and cuddling. We enjoy when others give attention to our fantasized stories (You know, the I walked 10 miles up hill in a blizzard type work stories) and support our “I couldn’t be wrong” excuses and complaints.

We’ve all done this time and again. We’ve done it in failed projects, goals and relationships. We’ve done the same to friends, family members and coworkers. And, to be honest, we’ve probably done it sometime very recently. But, at what consequence?

Your Responsibility

I completely understand not wanting to come off as rude, inconsiderate and lacking empathy. Being blunt and disrespecting others or destroying relationships is the last thing we want to do. It IS important to use tact when communicating this way, however it’s equally important not to enable bad behavior by a lack of feedback or “sugar-coating” your message.

Are you truly helping yourself or others by being nice and withholding information?

Stephen M.R. Covey once said, “When we talk straight, we tell the truth and leave the right impression.” Despite some initial pain and discomfort, honesty builds a bridge of trust between you and others.

In the big picture, consistently telling the truth builds a bigger and stronger bridge between you and the other person. A well built bridge helps to grow relationships and can withstand time, great distances and the many other storms of miscommunication.

Far too often a lie (including little white ones), despite our good intent, is a lack of personal responsibility. We don’t want to deal with the consequences that come along with both telling the truth and accepting it from others. Being “brutally honest” is being responsible. And responsibility is a huge responsibility.

Below I share 4 opportunities to improve honest communication in your daily interactions:

  1. Find Reality. Be in touch with what is and how things are not what you hope, think, or wish things to be. The only thing that is real and that will be consistently is what is. Once you find reality, it will be easier for you to confront brutal honesty and the facts that are real…such as your faults, weaknesses, failures, etc. Are you lying to protect yourself or others?
  2. Be Mindful. Evaluate the conversations you have with yourself, be consciously aware of your language you use when speaking with others and reflect and review old discussions to see if you were telling the truth. Are you leading conversations with honesty or by your fear and mistrust?
  3. Include Others. Tell your family, friends, colleagues and clients you are trying to improve your communication with them and others. Inform them you would like them to provide clear, honest feedback. Surround yourself with others who care about your growth and success, but watch out for those who lead you to believe in a false reality. Are you allowing others to enable unproductive thoughts, actions and behaviors?
  4. Be Honest. Use tact in order to tell the truth so it cannot be misunderstood without disrespect or leaving false impressions. Don’t beat around the bush, use flattery or have hidden meanings when you talk to others. Represent the reality of the situation as best you can through good communication skills and even better judgement. Are you building trust by telling the truth?

Successful relationships, businesses and dreams are built upon communication, integrity and trust. There is a thin line between honesty and being a little too blunt, but I’ve never known anyone to hate another for telling them the truth. Yet, for many, it’s easier to avoid the “hurt” of being brutally honest by enabling ineffective and unproductive thoughts, actions and habits.

If you’re equally open to your reality and listening to the truth as you are for providing brutal honesty then you’ll never find yourself burdened by the weight of regret. Be a person known for honesty and you’ll find sturdy bridges of connection you when you need them most.

“The consequences of deceit are usually greater then the ones of the truth.” –Dr. Henry Cloud

Take a few moments after work or before you head to bed and write down a few examples to the above questions. Acknowledging these slip-ups will help to put you more in-touch with your reality.

Be Bold,

Brandon Sobotka

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5 Overlooked Habits to Burn Fat & Skyrocket Energy

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All this month there are thousands of people with a resolution of “getting back in shape” or “losing weight”.  They try a variety of methods including cleanses, to extreme fitness programs, group workouts and the latest diets.  Every year we get a flood of new clients wanting these very things.  Among all the demands for the best exercise, the cleanest foods and the special supplement there are key habits people often overlook that eventually kill there progress.  This includes all of the above, especially diets.

Let’s take a look at why people fail diets more than they succeed:

  • Diets are strict, rigid and expect you to be perfect. When’s the last time you did a diet that was fun, simple or allowed you to explore? Never. Ever.
  • Diets have deadlines such as 21 days, 6 weeks or 90 day challenges. Perhaps this is why they’re called diets…because the results DIE when the deadline hits.
  • Diets require and instant 360 degree flip from your present lifestyle. Science shows you only have so much willpower and trying to make too many changes at once not only drains your willpower, but increases stress, kills focus and drains your energy. Even the smallest of changes seem tough.
  • Diets don’t teach you much. Your energy level, personal preferences, stressors, metabolism and more are constantly changing and cookie cutter programs do not adjust to the individualized programming needed for these fluctuations.

What You’re Overlooking

You already know you need to eat veggies, lean meats, fruits and whole grains, etc. You already know you need to walk, lift weights and mix in cardio and some fun activities each week.   You already know you need an average of eight hours of sleep.  So why are you still not where you want to be?

From my over 15 years of experience with thousands of clients, true long term health, fitness, fat loss, lean muscle gain, energy and more start with a few critical elements. The formula is all dependent upon how much a person E.A.T.S.:

  • Education– Your body and environment are ever changing and no matter how precise a plan or program is one of the best habits for sustainable success is by learning how you respond to these changes.   By being the scientist,  detective and researcher for your own body you’ll begin to grasp which plans & programs work best for you.  Also learning more on topics like macronutrients, metabolism and hormones from a professional will help you understand your body even more.
  • Attention– Your body is always communicating to you, but over time it’s easy to have stopped paying attention to it. How many times have you been hungry, but ignored it to do work? How many times have you felt energized, but you didn’t get out and do something active? How often are you stressed, but never take a break to rest and rejuvenate?  The habit of paying attention to & listening to your body’s biofeedback and natural intuition allows you to make better decisions.
  • Testing– Many people begin to diet and exercise at the New Year, some even see results.  Where they fail is they don’t track those results and therefore never learn what it was that was working for them.  Once you learn what works and what’s not you can test and explore new methods to find even better ones.   Everyone is different and the habit of testing allows you the opportunity to know your which foods, what exercises and how much sleep is best for you. Do you know what foods drain your energy, how much exercise sparks your cravings and how much sleep makes you feel rested?
  • Tolerance– (I know, I snuck in an extra “T”.) One of the top reasons people fail is because they’re sold on the crazy marketing claims of diets and programs that promise six pack abs in 7 days. In other words, instant gratification.  True transformation in anything occurs when you learn to tolerate the ups and downs and twists and turns while creating the behaviors needed to sustain the change long term. This is a process takes time and tolerance is the key habit for fulfilling it.
  • Streamline– Over time, as you follow the steps and learn what works best for you, then integrating your “wins” and streamlining your grocery shopping, meal planning, and when to eat and exercise within your schedule is the finishing touch. If you fail to make these changes the fabric of your daily and weekly schedule then you’re likely to find they become inconvenient, stressful and you quit. This is arguably the most important habit.

Conforming to the confines of a strict diet or the “perfect” program may help you get a few short term results, but often without the above habits your success will come crashing down. Your body and life are constantly in flux and a “band aid” program doesn’t adjust to the ever-changing demands of your work, family, illness, aging, stress, etc.

Learning these five habits will provide the mortar that helps build better personal success systems for burning fat and increasing energy, but more importantly they hold a healthy lifestyle together for the long run.

Which E.A.T.S. principle is your achilles heal?

Until next time. Be bold,

Brandon

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How To Work Smarter and Enjoy More Time

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Hello and welcome back.  We’ve all heard the saying work smarter, not harder.  I’ve used it for years now, but recently it’s taken on a new meaning for me.

Do you ever worry about missing out?  I do.  Don’t we all wish we had more time?  We don’t want to miss out on the many festivities that come along with the summer time fun.  But this summer is a little different.

This past winter we welcomed a new baby girl into our world and the game changed.  For years I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t miss out on creating wonderful memories with my kids like my family missed when I was young.  After all, time is the only commodity that truly matters and investing it into those we love will show the greatest return.  Isn’t it true?

Here are four keys why studies are showing utilizing reflection just may be the smartest way to work:

  • Learning is more effective if you take the time to reflect on, meaning to synthesize or articulate, the important points.
  • Take 15 minutes at the end of a training, meeting or your day and reflect on the main things you learned.
  • Use a journal to deepen the reflection and your learning.  Write, document and track 2-4 key points through out your learning time.
  • Teach to enhance learning.  By sharing or teaching newly acquired skills or subject matter you are essentially reflecting on the material therefore enhancing learning and boosting performance.

Although you can’t stop or even manage time, you can increase productivity.  Completing tasks and responsibilities more effectively will help you do more work in less time.  Reflection is a smart way to “make it stick” to the brain and conquer important goals so that you can share more meaningful moments with your loved ones.

Whether your taking on a new project, mastering a new skill or going through some innovative change at work, if you want to learn faster grab a journal, note card, digital recorder and share what you’ve learned with others today.  Don’t hesitate, choose a method of reflection and implement it after your next meeting.

Which of the four areas are you finding to be most difficult for gaining more time?

Live inspired, Lead Bold,

Brandon Sobotka

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3 Stress Fighting Strategies for Holiday Happiness

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Holiday stress can accumulate like presents under a Christmas tree.  Even when we work hard and shop smart we still find ourselves crunched for time and stressed to find the “right” gifts before Christmas.  And the thought of shopping through the herds of people and wait in lines for hours just doesn’t seem too merry. On top of that, you’re hosting Christmas this year and you know what that means…cleaning, cooking, more cooking, more cleaning and at least a full day with the in-laws (eeeek!).

Tis the season they say. But, instead of feeling all jolly, you’re out of energy, worn down to your last nerve and filled with daily anxiety. As we splurge on gifts for the ones we love, in the back of our mind we are dreading that next credit card statement.  Even if you were lucky enough to land some black Friday deals there is still much too do. joy

Just the thought of all of these obligation may have you asking, “where’s the joy in that?” The holidays are meant to be special, gratifying and memorable. So if you’re committed to making this season meaningful then you’ll need ways to shake off the stress (inspired by Taylor Swift). Here’s a few tips to enjoy a peaceful, joyful and happy holidays.

GIVING

The simplest acts of generosity alone are stress busters. You might think giving more of your time, money and energy to others would increase stress, however there are several studies that prove giving is good for your health. Research has shown that when you give it can improve mental well-being by decreasing stress, anxiety and depression. Here are a few ways you can give this holiday:

  • Homemade gifts/Handwritten cards– you don’t have to go to great lengths in order to touch another’s heart. Personalized gifts are often the most memorable.
  • Donate– charitable giving has been shown to bring people more happiness than any other type of giving. You choose the charity or organization you care for most and it’s a win-win.
  • Adopt a family– many don’t have the opportunity to experience the joy of the season. It’s hard to find something more humbling than supplying gifts or donating Christmas dinner for a family.
  • Spontaneity– surprise a stranger by paying their cab, tab or buying them a cup of coffee. Or, help a friend with housework, child care or running errands. You’re unplanned generosity can easily be a happiness amplifier.

CONNECTING
Spending time with the ones you love is the top priority for the holidays. Instead of all the aesthetics if you can focus on what’s most important you’ll feel the stress just melt away. Here are a few ways to connect more and stress less:

  • Plan together– hosting Christmas is a great way to connect with family, but don’t shoulder all the load & expectations (now that’s stressful). Never hosted? Ask for help (Grandma’s are the best mentors). Ask extended family to bring side dishes, games and their favorite movies, and have the immediate family help with groceries and decorating the house. This not only relieves stress, but can build a deeper family bond.
  • Work together– connecting with friends for gift shopping, wrapping and decorating can keep you connected and energized while knocking off those holiday to-dos.
  • Play together– I mentioned family games and movies, but also enjoying other traditions like caroling, sledding or ice skating are great ways to keep stress on the wraps. These help to infuse your holidays with memorable stories, laughter, interaction and friendly competition.

REFLECTING
Taking care of yourself cannot be forgotten during the busy season and regardless of your schedule it’s always important to stay rested, hydrated, and nourished while keeping your peace of mind. Try these to remain happy and calm:

  • Meditation– you’re going to need sleep, focus and patience during the chaos and craziness of the holidays and meditation is the key to eliminating many of the stressors this time of year so you can.
  • Nourishment ninja– set and honor a plan that pleases and serves you. You can still fulfill your taste buds without overindulging and being swayed by social expectations. Use a pre-planned, “no-thank you”, excuse to minimize the temptations and traditions.
  • Workout pancakes– don’t waffle on your decision to workout. Utilize your workouts to offset certain indulgences and keep yourself energized and confident. Pancake parties and heavy eating days between workout days. Mix heavy resistance training, sprinting and yoga to keep the mind and body primed.
  • Unplug– put away the electronics…no TV, cell phone, tablets, laptops, etc. My favorite is turning off all the lights except the Christmas tree lights, grab a warm cup of tea or cocoa, wrap up in some warm blankets and relax in the dark (occasionally I’d listen to light X-mas music). The goal is to create a quiet, peaceful and calming place for you to relax.

There you have it…your guide to holiday season sanity. Steer clear of holiday stress with these tips and you’re bound to rediscover the true meaning of the holidays.

P.S. Share the gift of giving by inviting a friend, colleague or family member to join the Wake Up with Fire community.

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3 Keys to Success in Entrepreneurship

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If you asked me a few years ago what the key to success in entrepreneurship was, I might have told you that it was training and development in the beginning.  A little later I would have responded with the answer of recruiting.  In the middle of this journey I would’ve said sales and marketing.

Later, after some struggles, I thought if you have great leadership and systems you can manage all of the above.  A more recent response would’ve been if you don’t have a strategy what good are those.  And right now I can hear you saying (probably screaming) adamantly that the most important element is financial acumen.

The truth is that these are all correct and I don’t disagree that these areas are all vital to the growth of an entrepreneurial endeavor.  However, in my recent experience and taking all past experiences into consideration there are three key elements I’ve found to separate you from the red and often your competition.

Making The Shift

The keys are all personal…Not business related.  After all personal development is business innovation.

Heard this before? Not like this you haven’t, don’t stop reading yet.  The number one complaint I hear from Entrepreneurs, Executives, and other industry experts (not to mention working moms, coaches, authors, speakers, etc.).  I just don’t have enough time.

Does this sound like you?… “I need more time or I can’t get it all done right now.”

I understand.  I’ll tell you, no matter how hard I worked it seemed like I worked 12, 16, 20 hrs a day repetitively.  We know a successful business takes great ideas, creativity, collaboration and a bunch more, but actually making those ideas happen is the hard part.

Spending more time working is no longer the answer.  We’ve missed enough time with family, friends and enjoying the other fruits of life to spend more time at a desk.  The reason so many are not achieving enough is not actually a shortage of time anyway.  I mean, who isn’t working at least 50 to 60 hours a week these days?  It’s a deficiency in these three keys and it’s time for a shift.

Purpose in Entrepreneurship

The true importance of a purpose is not in having one, but in the clarity of yours.  In today’s highly competitive world if you’re not explicitly clear on why you’re doing what you do you’ll eventually fail.  There are many crossroad to come and mountains to climb and a lack of clarity is like traveling without a map.

No map leaves you guessing or with too many questions.  Your confusion and fears create a slow grind of indecision slowing any sense of progress.  Once you’ve clearly defined your purpose you will know, with greater confidence, what path is best for you and many of the intricate details needed to excel along it.

Clarity of purpose streamlines your focus and also engages others in the process.  They are able to clearly understand what you are trying to accomplish and why it’s meaningful.  That’s magic for business…it makes it easy to define job roles, responsibilities and skills on the inside and easy to communicate customer solutions and strategies on the outside.

Purpose creates a feeling of fulfillment because it clearly defines an understandable path, a meaningful result and represents a fully expressed you with which others can relate to and align with.

Progress in Entrepreneurship

Not everyone is aroused by purpose alone.  A sense of progress is also highly important to inspire action within your company.  Action, however doesn’t necessarily mean you are being productive and progressing forward.

Identify behaviors that provide confidence, motivation and move you closer to achieving the goal.  We often under-appreciated and overlooked the small victories, but it’s important to take time to notice these and you’ll waste less time, money and precious personal “juice”.

Your ability to push through the “dry times” of startup (low traffic, leads and customers) will separate you from the competition in the long run.  Appreciating these small wins will help you execute projects with greater efficiency from the point of inspiration to implementation.

Eban Pagan believes the “Speed of Implementation” is the number one key to long term success.  Maintaining this feeling of progress can build the momentum you need to complete the book, online course or partnership strategy you can leverage in your business for the long term.

Performance in Entrepreneurship

We all know there are varying levels of performance.  In this case I am speaking of high human performance…your ability to sustain high levels of energy, enthusiasm and engagement and elevate to a higher level you.

There will be times you overcome big challenges and don’t get the results you want and there are even times you are highly effective and still “lose”.  These challenges will consistently occur throughout entrepreneurship, but it’s your ability to face them and finish without “falling off” that will you succeed.

High human performance is the knowledge, skills and resources to get the job done well more often than not.  And better than you did it the last time.  Your daily performance provides a feeling of accomplishment at the end of each day and a sense of fulfillment along the journey.

Instead of a little, quick spark here or there, this is continuous and magnifies confidence,  instills courage and helps you stay committed to your biggest, most meaningful goals despite new and more daunting challenges.

The Multiplier

If you’ve made it this far then you truly are student of your craft and I reward you with a 4th key.  Key #4 is Urgency.  Urgency is the multiplier (I know, I know, it doesn’t start with a P.)  We could use Parkinson’s law which is a tactic for creating a greater sense of urgency (we’ll save that for a later date).

Urgency is the true difference between an entrepreneur and highly successful entrepreneurship.  With urgency you will find out how well you defined, prepared and fulfilled the first three keys.  You will learn what you are truly talented in and how passionate you are about your purpose.  Urgency, brings out true human potential and can create real levels of high performance.

Urgency is the one thing that drives people, projects and businesses forward quickly.  Being truly urgent in your actions will help you gain a significant advantage over your competitors and sustainable success in Entrepreneurship.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you think about your current business status…

  • Can you clearly (I mean with crystal clarity) define your purpose?
  • What have you been thinking about for too long? (What if I told you you only have 60 minutes to choose?)
  • How effective are you at performing the tasks needed for successful execution?  Can it be done better?
  • Are you demanding enough? On others, or better yet, yourself?
  • Who owes you something (a report, product or idea)? How much time have you given them? Do they really need that much time?

I’ll leave you with this…

To achieve greatly, you must master the three keys first and then cultivate great urgency in a way that channels your significant purpose. We must not view ourselves as time stressed, but as highly time sensitive beings.  Our time on earth is short and the lifespan of an average entrepreneurial business is even shorter.  Only when we view life & ourselves this way are we likely to generate the energy and drive to make things happen fast and in a meaningful way.

Which of the three keys is deficient most in your business?  Begin or join the conversation by leaving your comments below.

 

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