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The Power of Living in the Present

Seek to embody the message that you wish to impart to others

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I ballooned up to 202 pounds years back and couldn’t stand it. I had been 182 for most of my adult life and felt comfortable at that weight. As a professional speaker, travelling the country speaking to groups, it was important for me to “walk my talk,” every minute of the day.

To optimally influence others, I decided to embody the message that I was verbally disseminating. If people were to believe me, that they could in fact win back their time, I needed to show up in the present as someone who looked like he had won his time back.

Embodying the Message

Here is what embodying the message I wished to impart specifically meant for me:

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* Maintaining my ideal weight of 182 pounds.
* Wear no watch. If I have appointments I simply make sure I’m near a timepiece.
* Staying off most mailing lists, except for the few that matter.
* Supplying business reply envelopes to others to ensure their ability of interacting with me.
* Pausing for at least ten minutes each day to stop, collect my thoughts, and take a deep breath.
* Avoiding television and electronic addiction; recognizing that a walk outdoors, talking to a good friend, reading, and other activities are more rewarding.
* Keeping letters and correspondence to one page or, at worst, both sides of the same sheet of paper.
* Doing one thing at a time. I don’t eat while I read, doodle while I talk on the phone, or give divided attention while in conversation.

Rationalizing = Ineffectiveness

As I began speaking to more groups, it became easy for me to rationalize that my normal exercise routine would be disrupted when traveling, and that it was okay for me to wait until I got back home.

The groups to whom I spoke covered my meals on the road, and often had huge luncheons or dinner banquets. It was easy to tank-up on great food, and rationalize that eating was part of the job.

While becoming more successful as a speaker, I had to devise a plan for staying fit both on the road and in between. I had to do so as to not experience hunger cravings, resort to diet pills, or make extreme sacrifices. In the present, in real time, I would honor my weigh and fitness related goals

Action Steps

Here’s a brief description of the six key action steps that enabled me to stay in shape and have more energy day in and day out:

1. Exercise a Little, Every Day. I learned a tip from a friend who is trim and toned. He makes it a rule to exercise for at least some portion of each day, even if it’s only a 15 minute walk around the block.

Some exercising each day is not just a good idea, it becomes a challenge for you to find ways to work out in confined areas. Suppose you’re stuck in a small city, in a hotel without athletic facilities, and there’s a thundering rainstorm outside. The test becomes using the hotel’s hallways, or even your own hotel room as your gym.

2. Use my Hotel Room as a Health Club. When you check into your hotel, ask for a non-smoking room on a non-smoking floor. You get your best exercise in rooms where nicotine does not infiltrate the carpets and curtains. You also want to ask if the hotel has a health club, pool, or other type of exercise facility. If they do, great. If not, it’s easy to use your hotel room for your workout.

When I check into hotels I often ask if a third-floor room is available (If there’s ever a fire I could jump or climb down). Staying on lower floors prompts me to take the stairs more often than usual – I feel guilty taking the elevator to go up a floor or two.

Walking up and down stairs is excellent exercise that gives a good workout to muscles in your back, derriere, and legs. Don’t use the stairs when you’re toting luggage, but once you put the luggage down, use the stairs as often as you can.

When it comes to TV, workout while you watch. Run in place, do arm circles, or squats. If you’ve ever taken an aerobics class, you know a variety of exercises that you can do in a four-foot square space.

3. Patronize the Hotel Health Club. If the hotel has a health club, then you have more tools at your convenience. The treadmills and bike machines are great for warm-ups; in each case you can start at slow speed. While exercising on the road, keep any health club workout light. This is not the time to try to break endurance records.

4. Walk the Halls. When the hotel has no health club facility, walk the halls or, if the weather is favorable, the grounds of the hotel facility. In many cases, a couple times around the block will give you 15 minutes of solid walking.

If you’re near a supermarket or neighborhood shopping center, or better yet, a large shopping mall, you can easily spend an hour walking up and down the aisles and hallways. Don’t stop to linger too much to look at the goods; your goal is to stay in motion.

5. Using Airports as Your Playground. Suppose you have a layover in an airport for an hour and 45 minutes. Check your largest bag, or all your bags, so you’re unencumbered. One of the great advantages of airports is that there are lots of people to see and shops to pass by.

6. Break the Cycle. When you work out vigorously for hours on end like many people in health clubs do, you might fall into a cycle that is somewhat hard to undo:

* Dehydration, so you fill up on water
* Hunger, so you fill up on food
* Weariness, so you get a lot of rest

You wake up the next day hungry and thirsty again, and can end up overeating as a result of your vigorous workouts. When you simply walk, do calisthenics in front of the TV, and pursue other methods of light exercising, you never face the dehydration, hunger, and tiredness cycle.

I was able to drop 21 pounds with no hunger cravings whatsoever, and without tiredness. It felt natural, it was relatively easy, and now I don’t know how I ever let myself balloon up to 202.

A New Beginning

With my new-found energy, I began playing basketball with 18 to 24 year-olds, and walking the historic parts of cities where I speak. All my clothes fit, people routinely mistook me for someone several years younger, and I felt great.

Your goal now is to pick something you wish to master and create measures for proceeding now, as you day and life unfold. Based on the measures that you choose, and the particular circumstances of your life, your plan will be different from someone else’s.

The plan will work best if you can initiate a part of it everyday. Here are reinforcement techniques:

* Seek others with goals similar to yours.
* Post reinforcing statements and reminders in view.
* Record affirming statements on cassette.
* Determine any cash outlays in advance.
* Take bite-size action steps.
* Have someone waiting to hear of your progress.
* Envision yourself succeeding.
* Plot your plan on the calendar starting from the end date.
* Build in some flexibility.

There are people who live in the present. These people can open the mail and deal with it when it arrives, respond to phone calls as they occur, and depart from the office each evening at a reasonable hour.

People who live in the present have a life after work, and take vacations. There’s no reason you can’t be one of these people.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Family

Spend Less, Owe Less, Live More

If you spend less than you take in, inexorably your debt will decrease

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Society conditions us to consume more than we need and to spend more than we make. However, this kind of lifestyle is a recipe for disaster. Taking back control of your finances can help you free up time and make you feel more in control of your life more of the time.

Think back to your high school and college history classes: can you recall a nation in the history of the earth that accumulated huge deficits over a prolonged period of time, lacked a concerted effort towards reducing these deficits, yet was able to sustain economic prosperity for its citizens?

Can a nation, in debt for trillions annually, or a person – namely you – consistently run up huge deficits and expect no consequences?  For decades, tens of millions of Americans have accumulated personal debt via credit cards, loans, and other forms of financing. It’s likely that you have some financial debts.

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Subtle Servitude

Sustained deficit spending eventually erodes your ability to prepare for the future, and worse, to capitalize on current opportunities. The more you owe, the more enslaved you are! In Consumerism, Dr. Judith Schor notes that you’ve likely been taught to consume more than you need.

Right now, how would it feel if all your credit cards were paid off? How would it feel if you paid your monthly rent or mortgage several months in advance? How would it feel if your car loan was paid off? How would it feel if you were actually able to pay some of your utility bills for months in advance? For most people it would feel great. You’d feel in control of your time.

We all know the arguments about losing the (minuscule) amount of interest you could have earned if you let your money sit in the bank instead of paying the electric bill three months in advance. Ah, but wait. A month after you’ve paid your electric bill three months in advance, you receive the next month’s bill. Guess what? It shows that you have a huge credit and that nothing is due – you’ll smile when you see these kinds of bills!

A Moratorium on Spending

To reduce your personal debts, place a moratorium on optional spending, regardless of what items entice you, until your credit cards have zero balances.

Paying for material things which you don’t need, and certainly don’t save your time, might be satisfying, but ultimately can be draining.

Here are some strategies and tactics for controlling your checkbook, and hence reclaiming your life:

1. Write out checks to pay bills in advance of their due dates. Then, keep an advance file with a folder for each day of the month. Place the check in a sealed, addressed, and stamped envelope. Then put the envelope in the folder of the day it’s to be mailed. This way the money is allocated in advance in your checkbook, and your bills are paid on time. If your checking account pays interest, you don’t lose interest.

2. Occasionally, overpay the balance on your continuing accounts, or pay early. This gives you the aforementioned psychological boost when you see a credit on your next statement, and gives you a good reputation with your creditors, which is handy!

3. Keep a stick-on note in your checkbook for an immediate reference that lists what’s coming in this month and what needs to be paid. This provides you with a running mini-cash flow list to which you can refer at will. Update it weekly, or daily, if needed.

4. Review old checkbooks and see what you paid to whom for what. Do the same thing with your monthly credit card statements. Put a red mark next to all those expenditures that you didn’t need to make, or that you could have done without after further consideration.

5. Now, considering expenditures on the horizon, which ones can you do without?

Spend Less, Save More

As author Roger Dawson says, “It doesn’t matter how much money you’re making; if you’re spending more than you take in each month, you’re headed for trouble.” If you spend less than you take in, your debt will decrease, even if only a little at a time, and one day perhaps  disappear.

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Life

Ignore Much of What Pundits Have to Say

Can we be confident in advice we receive from people who have not mastered what they teach?

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When the opportunity arose, I attended a lecture by one of the most well-known authors and speakers in America. I had previewed his CD and read two of his books prior to his lecture; in person, he lived up to my expectations. So, I was intrigued when a friend, involved with bringing this speaker to our area relayed a personal incident to me. 

Directly following the speaker’s presentation, my friend was responsible for driving him to the airport, and accompanying him until his flight departed. That summer afternoon, it was rainy and the skies were dark.

As it turned out, the author was a nervous flyer and took several drinks in the airport lounge prior to boarding the plane.  I found this incident to be amazing because I had so often heard him say things such as, “Everything in this universe is perfect.” It struck me that, in many ways, the speaker wasn’t practicing his philosophy. Nevertheless, all human beings have their faults and foibles and, as time passed, I forgot about the incident.

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High-Priced Gurus

One morning, I had the occasion to pick up USA Today. In the lifestyle section, there was a feature on a relationship guru and author of international best-sellers on relationships. She had won the “Oscar” of infomercials, earning $24 million in a single year.  

In this published interview, the reporter asked her why we should listen to a relationship guru who had been married five times. Five times? I couldn’t believe it! She had wedded her fifth husband, some 11 years her junior, only a short time before producing her award-winning infomercial on having a successful relationship. 

In the infomercial, she is featured as having a loving relationship with her husband. Okay, but in no way does the infomercial tell us that he is her fifth husband and that she had married him three weeks ago.

Not Walking their Talk

I had a flash from the past: I recalled the story about the nervous flyer author. Yet, nothing prepared me for the revelations about the relationship guru, a self-proclaimed expert, using the slickest 21st-century marketing available to sell her information and products.  

She was well-versed in her subject matter. Upon hearing her advice, I recognized that it did seem sound. However, the larger issue is, “Can we be confident in the advice we receive from those who have not mastered what they teach, or who do not even remotely walk their talk?”

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