RFS Blog | by Karl W. Palachuk – Relax Focus Succeed. Learn more at www.relaxfocussucceed.com

CAT | Family



The Happiest Times of My Life

What are the happiest times in your life? That’s worth looking at because there are probably some common elements there. With some serious introspection, you might even figure out the connections.

There are three periods in my life that stand out as the happiest.

The first time was when I was a kid. By “kid” I mean in that age range of about seven to eleven. I had a lot of independence and hadn’t started worrying too much about girls. I grew up with five brothers. I was the middle kid, so I was surrounded by activities and companionship all the time. We lived about half a mile from a great big park. During the summer months, we’d go there and play on the playground, check out games, or watch baseball. We were literally barefoot all summer and “gone” most of the day.

During that time I also built a small private sanctuary for myself in our basement. We had a dank, unfinished basement that really had nothing but the old oil furnace in it. I put up some shelves and built a work area under the staircase. That’s where I set up my chemistry set and my electronics experiments.

I was happy and free and I always felt loved and secure. I also felt like I had a lot of independence.

Daddy Daughter turtlesThe second period that stands out in my life is when my daughter was a little girl. Two was an awesome age. But the time when she was 3-6 was the best. She was old enough to have stamina, so she could hang out with me all day. We literally went everywhere together. My co-workers and clients all knew her.

Every weekend, the two of us would head out for an adventure. It normally involved a trip to the Rite-Aid to wander every aisle. We finished in the plant department. Then we’d go to the lumber yard to get supplies for whatever the weekend project was. Again, we hit every aisle. She sat on the riding mowers and sang “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay.” After that we either planted things, painted things, or built things.

On Sunday we either had Daddy-Daughter breakfast before church or Daddy-Daughter lunch after church. Even today she has fond memories of the places we went regularly.

I think my daughter considers me her shield from the world – in large part because we spent all of our time together during this period of her life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every age. But after she started going to school, she developed a life outside of our relationship. That’s how it’s supposed to be of course. She was a great teenager, a great high schooler, and now she’s a wonderful woman.

The third period of happiness that stands out in my life is right now. Over the last six years I’ve rebuilt my life completely. I make a living writing and speaking, which I dearly love. My grown daughter lives with me now as she is finishing college. I get to travel as much as I want (which is a lot). I have been averaging about 20-30 presentations a year in 20-25 cities. I live in a delightful older house with just the right size yard. I’ve created the life I want and I’m living it.

When I travel, I take extra days to see the sights and relax. In 2015 I took 50 vacation days, including two separate weeks in Australia, a week in England, and a week in Hawaii.

I write at lot. I read a lot. I travel a lot. And more than most people, I spend a great deal of time hanging out with friends I really enjoy – all over the world. My favorite combination is: Sharing a meal, at night, outside, near the water, with live music. The more of those elements I can combine, the happier I am.

No one’s life is perfect. But I’m happy to have the self-awareness to appreciate that mine is very good. I’m going to work very hard to keep it heading in the right direction.

. . .

And how about you? What were (are) the happiest times in your life? If “now” isn’t on the list, what can you do to get it there?


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It’s Complete!!!

The Audio Version of Relax Focus Succeed® is available right now in MP3 format.

It will be available very soon on Audible. If you have used Audible before, I highly recommend it. Go to audible.com and get started with Relax Focus Succeed as soon as it’s released.

Relax Focus Succeed

Relax Focus Succeed

Here’s where and how you can get the Revised Edition of Relax Focus Succeed®:

SMB Books

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  • Coming Soon

Thank you all for your support!

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One of the emerging trends in the U.S. is unplugging. As we become more connected to our technology every day, the need to uplug becomes greater.

In fact, unplugging has become popular enough to have its own day. National Day of Unplugging was March 6th of this year. The day was started by a group called Reboot.

And now, Jenifer Novak Landers – life coach, author, and entrepreneur – has developed a stylish way to unplug at home or at the office. She is creating a line call Unpluggables and raising starter funds through an Indiegogo campaign. See https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/unpluggables.

Unpluggable Indiegogo campaign

Why Unplug?

There are three primary reasons we all need to unplug. They are personal, social, and business.

More and more, research is showing that our constant use of technology is harmful to our bodies and brains in several ways. This is particularly true with cell phones, which have become the all-in-one entertainment center of choice. We’re beginning to see research that supports much of what we already suspect: Cell phone addiction can have negative impacts on our lives – both physicially and psychologically.

For a place to start looking at the research, see https://student.societyforscience.org/article/watch-out-cell-phones-can-be-addictive – or just Google “cell phone addiction” for other links.

On a personal level, over-use of mobile gadgets could be stimulating your brain in harmful ways. On a much more personal level, we all need to take time to relax, disconnect from others, and fully appreciate ourselves and our lives. We need to stop communicating with the outside world and spend more time in reflection. That’s a fundamental precept of my Relax Focus Succeed® philosophy.

On the social level, we all know that “devices” are bad for family communications. Kids won’t put them down. Sometimes adults won’t put them down. Some people literally cannot go five minutes without checking their cell phones. Watch people on a date at a restaurant. Even those who avoid their cell phones whip them out the second their date gets up to use the restroom.

Jenifer tells the story, in her Unpluggables video, about putting a sign on her TV when her daughter was young. The sign read “Magic Happens” because magic happens when we turn off technology and spend time with each other. That was the original idea that became Unpluggables.

Basically, Unpluggables are stylish cases to put your phone into as an outward sign that you are choosing to set aside the technology and pay attention to the people in your life. My favorite design is the wedding set. Hers is white with a veil and his is a little tuxedo. Unplugged weddings have been around about five years. Other unplugged events are growing. For example, see An Unplugged Weekend: 7 Tips To Make It Happen.

Families need to unplug during meals. The Unpluggable line makes it easy to do this with a visible sign that people are choosing to spend time with each other.

On the business front, cell phones are often the cause of great frustration. Forbes recently posted an article entitled How To Get People Off Their Phones In Meetings Without Being A Jerk. And Entrepreneur magazine publishes articles like, Why Successful People Never Bring Smartphones Into Meetings.

Jenifer’s Unpluggables line will include sets that can be used at meetings, weddings, and other large gatherings. She’s even going to have decorated boxes that can be passed around at meetings, so folks can just give up the device for an hour.


Give and Get

Contribute to the Unpluggable CampaignPlease contribute to Jenifer’s Indiegogo campaign. She needs money to create designs, acquire materials, and find manufacturers for Unpluggables. If you contribute, you can get an Unpluggable or several other “perks.” You could even get a starter kit so you can become one of the first resellers for Unpluggables.

Please look at the campaign here.

Donate whatever you can afford.

At least two elements of Relax Focus Succeed® are easier when you unplug: Relax and Focus.

That’s why I’m supporting this awesome campaign.



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Relax Focus Succeed

5-Week class starts July 28th.

Relax Focus Succeed®

Balance Your Personal and Professional Lives and Be More Successful in Both

Five Mondays – July 28 – Aug. 25, 2014

Registration includes a copy of the book Relax Focus Succeed® by Karl W. Palachuk.

Save $50 right now with code RFSClass

Register now: Only $199 – $50 with code RFSClass to bring this price to only $149



This course will show you how to master the concepts of Relax Focus Succeed® – a program for balancing your personal and professional lives and finding more success in both.

This course is intended for anyone who is stressed out, over-worked, and ready to take their whole life to the next level. We all lead busy lives, filled with too many demands. Many of us don’t get enough sleep or exercise. We fight to be successful at work and at home.

Taught by someone who’s been there. Karl Palachuk was diagnosed with debilitating Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 39 and spent several years getting the disease under control. With two businesses to managed and a young family, he found himself unable to work more than a few hours a day. That’s when he developed a process for achieving goals at a very high level without working himself to death.

Many of us chase the entrepreneurial dream – but few of us reach our entrepreneurial vision.

This is an intensive teleseminar course over a five week period. All assignments are voluntary, of course. But if you want feedback on assignments, please complete assignments during this course and email them to the instructor.

Topics to be presented include:

  • Balance your personal and professional lives
  • Focus on the single most important things in your life
  • Develop your vision for self-fulfillment
  • Relax – in a meaningful way
  • Be the same person in all elements of your life (overcome Jekyll/Hyde syndrome)
  • Put the past – and your present – in their place
  • Build your muscles of success
  • Stop working 50- or 60- or 70-hour weeks
  • Avoid being interrupt-driven
  • Slow Down, Get More Done
  • Work less and accomplish more
  • Define Goals: Long-term, Medium-term, and Short-term
  • Build quiet time into your life

The course will include a number of recommended do-it-yourself exercises.

Save $50 right now with code RFSClass

Register now: Only $199

Enter code RFSClass to bring this price to only $149


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I was in a meeting today and one of the attendees is a tax professional. It’s tax season of course, so she was explaining that she will be working until midnight.

Maybe I’m odd, but my first reaction is that I don’t want my taxes to be prepared by someone at midnight. Or 11 PM or 10 PM. In fact, I don’t want my taxes prepard by someone who was up until midnight last night either!

I want my taxes prepared by someone who is fresh and well rested – and on top of their game.

I don’t want my accounting handled by someone at 11 PM.

I don’t want my tech support handled by someone at 10 PM.

I don’t want my surgery to be performed by a doctor in the last two hours of a ten hour shift.

I don’t want my legal documents reviewed by an attorney after ten hours at the office.

Do you see the pattern here? We all see this behavior in others. We know that they have diminishing returns. We don’t want them at their worst. We want them at their best. We don’t want to pay full price for the ninth or tenth or eleventh hour of work.

When you see someone working like this day after day, you know that they are mostly spinning their wheels and becoming less productive every hour. And after several days of overworking, they are becoming less productive every day.

It can be very frustrating when my flight is cancelled because the pilots sat around waiting for delays until the FAA says that they have to go home because they’ve been on duty too long. But the FAA knows a very clear truth: People make more mistakes when they are tired. Mistakes can kill people.


And What About You?

It’s easy to see this behavior in others, but what about yourself? Are you overworking day after day? How productive are you in the last hour of your long work day?

When most of us make mistakes, no one dies. But that doesn’t mean that we are doing good work, or that our clients are getting their money’s worth. Certainly, our families are not getting what they deserve when we are working eleven or twelve hours in a day.

When you collapse at the end of the week and are “useless” to your family, then you really need to re-evaluate why you’re working so hard.

Under-serving your clients (or boss) while under-serving your family is the only long-term result of chronic over-working.


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Change Becomes the New Normal

Life is funny sometimes. You can go along enjoying the “status quo” for years – even if you’re dissatisfied or unhappy. There is something built into the human psyche that keeps us in one place even when we aren’t happy there. But eventually change happens. Either we decide to make a change, or it is thrust upon us by other people or events.

Once we get into the “change” mode, we seem to be more willing to accept change. This is very common with health issues. Once we decide to exercise more, we are also very likely to eat better and consider other habits that might be bad for us. I guess the idea is, as long as I’m working on Me I might as work on all of me!

I’ve been through some personal turbulence over the last few years. In the middle of it all I started to think in terms of the “New Normal.” For example, when my daughter went off to college. I was not ready to be alone! I hadn’t lived alone in more than twenty years!

Your brain doesn’t just create pathways for habits and memories: It creates trenches! We’re not talking about a little line drawn in the dirt. After ten, fifteen, twenty years your habits are trenches deep enough to stand in. So when you dig yourself out, you may be uncomfortable with your situation. It’s not wrong. It’s just different.

And you can never go back.

That’s why you need to create the new normal.

Recently, my daughter took some time off from college. Yesterday she moved out again . . . back to Southern California.

You know how moves are. There’s lots of activity getting ready. Packing boxes. Sorting things. Even though she’s only been home about six months, she still had to go through the ritual. Then we had to pack the truck – some from her girl friend’s house, some from ours. A long day of lifting followed by a nice sit down dinner at a restaurant.

And in the morning they drove off.

I wandered around a bit. Made some lists of things to clean and things do. Planning a big reorganization of my study (formerly her bedroom).

Thats when I realized that I was consciously – and comfortably – creating a New Normal. I didn’t resist it (like last time). I didn’t deny that it was happening (like last time). I didn’t put it off (like last time). In fact I embraced it. I will certainly miss my daughter, but I’m much more comfortable with the idea of her moving out and me living alone than I was two years ago.

There’s no denying that experience goes a long way. I went through the moving out and being alone transition once. So I know a bit about what to expect. The funny thing is, I had eighteen years to prepare the first time and I wasn’t ready. I had six months to prepare this time and I *am* ready.

Change is always easier if you’re the one creating the change. But even if you didn’t create it, welcoming it and getting used to it helps a lot.

And now I can get back on the track of finding and building my next New Normal.



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Too Much Work – Or Too Little – Is Bad

Help MeI hope it’s not a big surprise that too much work is bad for you. I know I harp on it all the time, but there’s plenty of research to back it up.

I recently came across a great article by Nancy Shute on the effect of long hours on depression. See http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0030719.  The key finding is pretty stark: “People who worked 11 hours a day or more, more than doubled their risk of major depression compared with colleagues putting in eight hours a day.”

That’s only three hours a day – and it doubles your chance of depression. The interesting thing about this research is that they found results across all socio-economic classes. So those white-collar executives who get a flat salary and put in super-long hours are NOT immune from the effects of long hours.

Those extra hours – about three a day – have to come from somewhere. Do they come from family time? Sleep? Relaxation? You need all of these.

We can all put up with on super-long day and bounce back. It’s the constant, non-stop long days that can literally kill you. People who work long hours non-stop are obviously more sleep-deprived, have a higher risk of heart disease, and reduced cognitive function. All in all, long hours can kill you.

At a minimum, it can make you miserable and depressed.

Depression is extremely serious and should not be dismissed as temporary sadness. Depression can affect everything in your life – and in the lives of the people you love.

You Can Also Work Too Little

Sometimes people hear the phrase “Relax Focus Succeed” and think I am advocating sitting on the couch all day doing nothing. I am absolutely NOT recommending that. People need work. We need to feel worthwhile, and that we contribute something to society.

We are now well into the fourth year of this recession and unemployment for some people has been dragging on a long time. And with that unemployment is a dramatic increase in depression. See http://www.livescience.com/13710-unemployment-depression-identity-job-search.html and http://www.livescience.com/13496-unemployment-stress-job.html.

Whether it’s you or your spouse, lack of work puts a huge strain on people. And that leads to all kinds of health problems.

I’m not sure what makes human beings different from all other animals. We get to choose what we do every day. You might think we’d choose to sit by a calm lake and fish all day, every day. But that’s not the case.

As social beings, we need to feel that we’re part of society and that we contribute our share. Yes there are exceptions. But let’s discuss things from the rule and not the exception. Overwhelmingly, people like to have a job, go do something at a “place of work,” and have a life outside the house. It’s normal and natural.

It’s a slightly different subject, but many people love their jobs so much that they can’t see how they are hurting themselves and their relationships by working too much. So they work and work and work.

So, whether the boss forces you to work long hours, or your choose to do it yourself, it’s still bad for you!

And working too little is bad for you.

Both lead to depression and imbalance in our lives. Sometimes we can control that imbalance and sometimes we can’t. But in either case, we can take action to improve our perspective on things. We can stop each day and re-focus ourselves. Trust me, I know how hard it is to get out of a depression funk. And I know how it feels to believe you have to work non-stop.

The goal is balance. Somewhere in the middle of all this perspective and balance. But balance never just happens: We need to work on it regularly if we value it and desire it.

Begin today. It’s never too late.




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Good Looking Babies

A couple brought their newborn baby to the pediatrician for its first checkup. The doctor said, “You have a cute baby.”

Smiling, the man said, “I’ll bet you say that to all the new parents.”

“No,” the doc replied, “just to those whose babies are really good-looking.”

“So what do you say to the others?” the father asked.

“He looks just like you.”


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Vacations and Balance

As we prepare for the Christmas vacation in the U.S., my mind wanders to vacations and family gatherings. These are sometimes combined and often separated.

I remembered, as a kid, that traveling to see cousins in another city was just was much fun as driving to see a national park or an old fort. For us these were both chances to go somewhere and do something.

Vacations are opportunities to “get away” and relax. Don’t work. Don’t worry. Just enjoy life.

We all know that we need to do these things to maintain balance. But somehow we feel guilty.

In these days of technology, it is easy to stay in touch with work, keep up on email, and never actually escape while we’re on vacation. Should you feel good about combining work and rest, or should you feel guilty? I, for one, feel very good about it.

I’ve worked very hard to combine my vacation time and work time. For about fifteen years now, I have been traveling a lot. Sometimes as few as five business trips a year. Sometimes ten, fifteen, or even twenty. As a way to create a little balance, I started added days to the beginning and end of my business trips.

So, for example, I travel to the business city a day or two early. Then I have my meeting. I might travel back right away or add another vacation day at the end of the trip. When I’m going from city to city, I might add vacation days in either city, or even in the layover city.

In this way, I accomplish three things. First, I never have a quick fly-in and fly-out that’s 100% business. Second, I always have a more relaxed business trip. I get to take vacation days. I get to visit friends. I get to actually SEE the cities I visit. And, third, I get to have some very relaxed time to catch up on reading, playing, and putting my toes onto sandy beaches.

Don’t get me wrong. I occasionally take a good five day vacation all at once with no business. But I don’t feel like I’ve taken less of a vacation if I take five days off between two business cities.

For example, 2011 started out with me on a plane at 6:30 AM on January 3rd. I went to Charlotte, NC and spent the next day with a friend, visiting sites and wandering into South Carolina for BBQ. Then I had my business meeting. The next day, I flew to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. There, I hung out on the beach, visited friends, sat on the beach, wrote poetry, and had a BLAST for five days.

On one of those evenings, I attended a business meeting.

Then I hopped on an airplane and flew to Portland, OR. Almost as far as you can go from one end of the contiguous United States to the other. I did another show and then headed home. I landed back in Sacramento on January 12th. In all I had eleven travel days. And while I had plenty of time meeting with friends and relaxing, I had exactly four true “business” meetings. The rest was travel time and relaxation time.

That wasn’t the norm for the year, but it was sure a great way to start the year!

In all, over the last twelve months, I’ve made 18 trips to various cities. I had a total of 76 travel days and 48 days of vacation. By vacation I mean a whole day off work with no business meeting scheduled.

I’ve seen New York City at Christmas Time. I’ve been to Atlantic ocean beaches on three different vacations, and Pacific ocean beaches on three different vacations. Somewhere in the middle I’ve visited half a dozen lakes. I’ve gone on boat cruises, fishing trips, and family get-togethers.

So, for me, the question of whether I should feel guilty is very simple. I do not feel guilty about checking my email between bar hops in Vegas or after spending the day hiking around Lake Tahoe. Email helps me feel confident that the world keeps spinning and that my businesses are going along fine without me.

It’s not cheating to check in and make sure things are fine.

Stopping the vacation to deal with a problem is different. If you do that, you can’t count it as a vacation day. But you have to keep it in perspective. That job that wants to invade your holiday is probably the same job that makes the vacation possible in the first place. Respect it, but keep it in its place.

Many people are taking off the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. For many of us, taking off all that time is nerve-wracking. So don’t feel bad about checking email and tuning in to work once in awhile. The key is balance. Are you on vacation with an occasional email check? If that balance works for you, don’t feel guilty about it!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year to all!


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Sex is Good – Who Knew?

This is not a blog about sex. It’s a blog about life. About balance. About all the things that make you a happier, healthier, more productive, more successful person. Well one of the best things you can do for yourself is to develop a happy sex life.

At some level, pretty much everybody “likes” sex. What’s not to like? But, all too often, we get busy. We’re tired. We approach it at the end of the day, the end of the week. It’s easy to put off. And then it becomes an occasional thing instead of a regular part of life.

I encourage you to chat with your mate and make sex a higher priority. In fact, a high priority. In addition to being a core element of bonding between two people, sex is a shared experience unlike anything else. It is, literally, unique.

Wanting sex is not bad. It’s biological. Having sex is not bad, as long as it is among consenting adults. What you do and how you do it can be a lifelong exploration.

And women: Please believe me that men take sex very seriously even though we love to joke about it. Monogamous sex with a dedicated partner is a huge turn-on for men. I’m not sure who writes movie scripts and TV shows, but I suspect they have deep emotional scars and very bad sex lives!

Be Sex-Healthy

If you want to see the latest research on the health benefits of sex, just Google “Sex Is Good For You” and read the results. Web MD is one of the best sites on the Internet. Start there. But also look for several articles on Ten Health Benefits of Sex or Seventeen Health Benefits of Sex, etc.

One specific article that caught my eye was Ten Surprising Health Benefits of Sex. Anyway, do your research. Here’s some of what you’ll find:

Sex lowers your blood pressure.

Sex lowers stress.

Sex increases self esteem.

Sex is associated with lower diastolic blood pressure.

At least for women (haven’t seen research on men), hugging your partner lowers blood pressure.

Sex is directly related to increased levels of immunoglobulin A or IgA, an antibody that can protect you from colds and infections.

Sex burns calories. About 170 per hour. Can’t keep going for an hour? Well, just like any other physical activity, build up a little more each day. :-)

The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reported that the frequency of sex was NOT associated with strokes. And that’s a large study done over 20 years. So no excuses there.

Sex two or more times per week can reduce the risk of fatal heart attack by HALF for the men. Haven’t seen a stat on women.

University of Texas researchers published an article in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. They listed 237 reasons people gave for having sex. How many can you count?

Sex increases levels of oxytocin, a hormone that helps people bond to one another, feel trusting, and generous.

Even better, oxytocin increases the level of endorphins, which decreases the level of pain. Suffer from an injury or long term illness? Sex may be just what the doctor ordered!

And, of course, oxytocin helps you sleep better.

Sleeping better is a whole different subject with a long list of benefits. The point here is that sex is a good way to help you get the sleep you need.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve let your sex life slip, maybe right now is a great time to consider what you can do to get back on track. You might just live longer, be happier, sleep better, have less pain, feel more generous, lose some weight, feel better about yourself, and fall deeper in love with the one you love.

. . . Oh, and have fun, too.

– – – – –

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. You’re responsible for your own actions. Blah, blah, blah.


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