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

CAT | Goals

Very often we use the analogy of paths and destinations as if they’re tied together. You know, “You can’t reach your destination if you’re not on the right path.”

Well that’s just not true.

Trying to walk someone else's path to your goals can never bring success or happiness.

Trying to walk someone else’s path to your goals can never bring success or happiness.

Trying to walk someone else’s path to your goals can never bring success or happiness.

Trying to walk someone else’s path to your goals can never bring success or happiness.

First, the world is a big round ball. So you can go around in any direction and eventually get where you’re going. Second, we get to choose how we travel. Some people never travel by air. They choose trains, boats, and cars instead. Their experience is different but their destination can be the same.

Third, we all have experience with GPS (global position satellites) these days. We can set the device for foot travel, bicycle travel, car travel, or mass transit. In “car” mode we can choose to avoid toll roads or even avoid freeways altogether.

We have the same freedom in choosing the path to our personal success and fulfillment. Often, the advice we hear sounds as if there’s only one path to success: Work your butt off. In fact, recently there’s been a backlash against the advice to lead a balanced life. Some people literally advise you to work yourself at a heart-attack pace until you achieve what you want. Then you can have balance when you get old.

Of course you may never get there (to be successful or old).

I work a lot with technology consultants. I help them develop successful business processes and habits. I’m always amazed at how many ways there are to implement this advice – or ignore it altogether and be successful anyway.

Remember: Success is achieving YOUR goals – not someone else’s goals. Not society’s goals for you. Your goals for you.

A huge piece of that is maximizing what you enjoy. The least interesting goals are money related. Yes, you need money. Yes, you need to save for retirement. But you also need to live for today and find joy and fulfillment in your work and in your play.

So don’t worry about being off the path, or being on the wrong path. Create your own path. Figure out how YOU want to reach your goals. Trying to walk someone else’s path to your goals can never bring success or happiness.


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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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The Revised Edition of Relax Focus Succeed is now available to purchase in both paperback and as an e-book. Very soon we’ll have the audio version as well as Kindle and other e-reader formats.


Also check out the free 60 minute recorded seminar I posted on The Book page.


Focus on the positive, make some plans, and start heading in the right direction today!


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One of the exercises I go through with people during my seminars is to think back five years or ten years. Let’s pick a nice round number, like 2005. That’s seven, almost eight years ago.

ChangeWhere did you live?
Was it the same house?
Did you drive a different car?
Did you go to work at a different place?
Did you hang out with different friends?
Has your personal (love) relationship changed?
How old were your kids? What grade?
What was your biggest spare-time activity?
What was your favorite TV Show? Song?
What kind of phone did you have?
Did you have pets? The same pets as today?
Did you go to the same religious services?
What was your favorite restaurant?
Where did you go on vacation?

Please take a minute and really think about that. It is completely possible for everything in your life to be different in the next seven years. Everything. You could live in a different place, work at a different office, drive a different car, have different friends, be in a different relationship, etc.

Some things just will change no matter what you do. You’ll be seven years older. Your children will be seven years older. You know you won’t have the same phone or computer! You’ll probably have different pets, a different car, different hobbies, and vacation in a different place.

The lesson is: Lots of change is going to happen in a very short period of time.

And the important thing is, most of that change will take place whether you LET it happen or MAKE it happen. Your intentions have a huge role to play in creating your new future. You can plan almost everything on that list. Your age . . . well that’s just going to be what it’s going to be. But your car, your house, your friends, your hobbies. Those are all within your control.

Here’s an exercise I went through recently in my morning Quiet Time. I had been pondering what my life used to be like. A little nostalgia maybe. And I started wondering about the things that used to be important but simply aren’t important any more. Some of these actually fall into the category of “facts” that used to be true are not true today.

So try this exercise in three parts. To be fair to yourself, you might dedicate three days of Quiet Time to this.

First, make a list of things you believed to be true five years ago. This doesn’t have to be profound. A good way to get started is to think about your day. Look back on your former life. You wake up in your bed and begin your day. Maybe you make coffee, chat with your spouse, get the kids up for school. Whatever it is, write down the things that were true then.

Five years ago my daughter was 15. She didn’t have a drivers license. She was in high school. My house was worth a LOT of money. My monthly income was $_____. My yard was beautiful but a lot of work. I enjoyed my patios almost every day. I had written three books with great difficulty and my speaking business was just starting.

All of those things were true. I believed my house was important. My marriage was important. My daughter’s high school and driving and graduation were things I thought about every day. In my head were many “truths” about who I was, what my life was like, and where the world was going.

I defined myself as a computer consultant. I was also an author and speaker, but those were secondary.

Second, make a list of things you believe today. Maybe the same technique will work. For me, it’s now true that I don’t need to own a house. I don’t need a big stock portfolio. I can write books non-stop (as long as I sit my butt down and write). My daughter is still the center of my life, now 20 and moved out.

My marriage ended quite suddenly. My truth around that today involves accepting that I can be happy without that marriage. That didn’t used to be true. Now it is.

Today I define myself as an author and speaker. I am also a computer consultant, but that is secondary.

Finally, make a list of things you might believe five years from now. Will you believe you’re five years closer to retirement? What will you believe about your self-image, your career, your relationships, and your children?

What will you believe about your money and your success? What will you believe about what you “need” in life to be happy? What will be important to you? What will you care about? What will you believe about friends and family?
Remember, today is simply what “is” at this moment. Truth – reality – will be different in the future. And just like everything else, you can create that future. You can choose what you will believe. You can formulate the reality of your life as it evolves.

Beliefs are not really any different from the other things in your life. A physical thing like a car will age five years and may be replaced in the next five years. And a mental/emotional belief will also age five years, and my be replaced at some point in the next five years.

The primary difference is that physical things can be replaced and be gone. One day you can trade in your old car for a new car. After that moment, the old car is gone and the new car is simply there in your driveway every day.

Emotions and beliefs don’t change that quickly. But they can change just as completely. It might take you a year or more to stop believing in one reality and accept a new reality. Luckily you have experience with this! You used to define yourself as as kid, as a student, as a newbie in the workplace, etc. You have been many people in this lifetime and you will be many more in the future.

Lucky for you, you get to create the new you whenever you want.

Have fun.



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People are interesting creatures. We create an artificial thing called time, divide it into little increments, and then assign meaning to those increments. Today is Leap Year Day. We won’t get to experience February 29th for another four years.

In my book, Relax Focus Succeed, I discuss the topic of looking forward and backward. There, and in seminars, I give the example of five, ten, and fifteen years. Today let’s look at four years.

Consider four years ago – February 29, 2008:

– Where did you live?

– Who did you live with?

– What car did you drive?

– Where did you go to work?

– How old were you? Which milestones have passed since then?

– What was your favorite hobby?

– Who did you spend time with?

– What groups did you belong to?

– Where did you go to church?

– Which books did you read?

– What was your favorite TV show?

– Were you prepared for the financial “crash” in late 2008?

– What was your relationship status (married, single, dating, etc.)?

– What color was your office?

You get the point. Consider all the things that can change. How many things stayed the same? How many are partially the same? How many are very different?

It is often difficult to see the future. Humans have a tough time with changes they don’t create. But look at those questions again and turn them to the future. Where will you live four years from now? What milestones will pass?

On a very personal note, the last four years has been quite a time of upheaval and change in my life. Four years ago I was married and didn’t know it was about to end. In the last four years I passed the 10th anniversary of being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I also passed the anniversary of my father’s death (at age 50). And I passed the age 50 mark with a strong heart and no worries about my health.

In the last four years my daughter went from 15 to 19, from girl to woman, and from high school to college.

As I look ahead, I see me being better off financially in four years (2008/2009 was not good to me financially).

In four years my daughter will be a college graduate and maybe even in grad school.

In four years I’ll be driving some other kind of car, live in some other house or apartment, and maybe live in a different city.

My plan is to transition into writing more and making more money from speaking engagements. I already make a living at it, but I’m still very involved in a technical consulting business. We’ll see.

– – – – –

Take some time today (or in the next few days) and consider where you’ve been and where you’re going. Place meaning onto this moment in time savor it. Soak it in. And begin building a plan for the future!



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I’m a big advocate of balance. In work and play and everything else. Ironically enough, you have to WORK at balance: It simply won’t happen by itself.

Part of balance means saying no. Make that “NO!”

Business owners tend to be doers and joiners. When someone drops a request on our laps, we tend to say yes. Whether its a client, a service organization, a church, or even our own business. When the world puts an abandoned puppy on our porch, we take it in.

But we all know that we have a tendency to do too much. We find ourselves on committees and members of clubs, starting new ventures, and joining others. At some point, we simply can’t live up to all of our commitments.

January’s gone and February is upon us! If you haven’t complete a beginning-of-the-year review of your commitments, there’s still time. Just ask yourself whether you might be over-extended.

When you’re over-extended, several things are wrong:
– You’re not living up to your commitments.
– Others are relying on you and you think you might be letting them down.
– Your business may be suffering due to inattention — or attention to the wrong things.
– You feel stress because you “can’t do it all.”

In the big picture, you’re spending time doing the wrong things. You’re energy is bound up trying to figure out what you should be doing — instead of doing something (anything) fruitful!

So why don’t we stop? Why don’t we drop some of these activities? The two primary reasons are guilt and habit.

Horace Mann said “Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.”

There’s very little we can do about our habits except to commit ourselves to change. Once committed, we must unravel our existing cable one thread at a time and begin weaving another to take its place.

Guilt is another matter.

Perhaps the best way to deal with guilt is to get some perspective.

Ask yourself: are you really obligated to [this cause/this committee/this organization/etc] simply because you have participated in the past? Probably not. So why do you participate?

Legitimate Reasons to Continue:
– I find it personally fulfilling
– I need a change from the other activities in my life
– I enjoy the people/the project/etc.
– It makes me feel good/important
– It helps me in my business
– People express gratitude for what I do. I’m not taken for granted.
– It makes me happy
– It contributes to my physical or mental health
– It is profitable!

Poor Excuses to Continue:
– Other people expect me to be there
– If I don’t do it, who will?
– I made a commitment at some point
– I started this and now a lot of people are expecting it
– If I quit, I’ll feel like a loser

Notice I added an extra line there?

Above the line are legitimate reasons to continue. Below the line are poor excuses to continue. Most of them involve you believing that the stuff won’t get done without you. Sorry to tell you this, but you’re wrong.

Some time ago I took on the job of program chairman for an organization because the president was over-worked and needed help. Two years later I found that I had taken on too many “outside” activities and needed to cut back. I felt that this one thing needed to be done by me because no one else would step forward.

Then I realized that was stupid. After all, the group existed for many years before I joined and has many members. Any group that relies solely on my participation for it’s existence has a pretty weak foundation.

Some people go through this filtering process once a year. Some more frequently. In January a gave up a number of projects and commitments that just we’re working anymore. Part of me wants to feel guilty about that.

But I know that achieving balance means taking stock from time to time and deciding where to spend my energies. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. It is arrogant and selfish to think that communities, organizations, and projects can’t survive without you.

When you re-evaluate and re-organize your commitments, you’ll end up with more energy to dedicate to the remaining activities. You’re time and talents will be more keenly focused and your contribution will be more meaningful.

So do yourself a favor: Re-evaluate your commitments. Put it all in perspective.

And have a happier, healthier, more balanced year!


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Recently I found myself in two very different settings that resulted in similar, uncomfortable results. Both were business networking and “master mind” settings of truly amazing people.

In each setting the following scenario played out:

– People were given the opportunity to ask a room full of experts to help them with their businesses. Name any problem with your challenge and we’ll all brainstorm about how to help you.

– More than one person in this situation simply falls into a daze. “I’m not sure what to ask for. I wish people really understood the value of what I bring.” This was then followed by a stammering, flat sales pitch about their business.

– Some people are very excited to have the opportunity for feedback, but are simply lost about what they want.

– – – – –

It’s true in business and in your personal life: You can’t GET what you want until you can ASK for what you want. And you can’t ASK for what you want until you KNOW what you want.

Sometimes when we are overwhelmed and feeling “lost,” it can simply be a reflection of what’s going on at a deeper level. We know we can get up every day and do what we did yesterday. But that just continues the surface-level activities. It may not reflect the important decisions and beliefs that are changing at a deeper level.

When your day-to-day activities no longer align with your underlying values and vision, you begin to feel that some thing’s not right. But you can’t describe it, explain it, or even ask for help. You can’t ask for help because you haven’t figured out what’s wrong and what you want to do differently.

Think about it like the earth’s crust. Every day it’s pretty much like yesterday. But underneath the earth’s mantle there’s all kinds of activity. It changes all the time. And sometimes those changes have to work their way to the top. The earth shifts and groans. A minor earthquake here, a volcano there. The crust changes so that it sits more comfortably on the changing mantle. Then things settle down for awhile.

Quiet time allows your brain to start making these connections between the “new” changing you under the surface and the conscious you that has to get up tomorrow and live on the surface.

We all change all the time. Period. You can’t NOT change. But you can choose to ignore it and pretend it’s not happening. Or you can spend some time thinking about what’s going on and tuning into the changes that take place constantly.

Once you’re in tune with change, even if it’s unexpected or uncomfortable, you can describe where you are, where you want to be, and then ASK for help to get there.

And change is constant.

So you need to keep thinking about life and goals and happiness. Otherwise, the ground will have shifted again.



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Not too long ago I found myself in two very different settings that resulted in similar, uncomfortable results.

In each setting the following scenario played out:

– People were given the opportunity to ask a room full of experts to help them with their businesses. Name any problem with your challenge and we’ll all brainstorm about how to help you.

– More than one person in this situation simply falls into a daze. “I’m not sure what to ask for. I wish people really understood the value of what I bring.” This was then followed by a stammering, flat sales pitch about their business that no one understands.

– Some people are very excited to have the opportunity for feedback, but are simply lost about what they want.

We all need things. In our personal lives, in our community involvement, and in our business lives. We need advice. We need help. We need each other.

But we also need to know how to ask for what we want.

The chances that you will get what you need without asking for it are pretty slim. The world is full of wonderful, helpful people. But it’s just a statistical improbability that someone is going to give you exactly what you need if you can’t even ask for it.

So where do we get stuck? I believe it is rare that we know what we want and can’t find the words to express it. That means the sticking point is a step back from asking: We are stuck because we don’t know what we want. We might know vaguely but not in a precise way that can lead to actions.

For example, you might know that your business is going in the wrong direction. But how can I help you? If your request is, “I want my business to be more successful,” there’s not much I can do to assist you.

If your request were more precise, then I might be able to help. For example:

– “I need to reduce accounts receivable”
– “I need to figure out which marketing is working”
– “I need to determine the right price for a new product”

Each of these is specific enough that someone could actually offer up assistance.

Figuring out what you really want (so you can articulate it for others) is not particularly difficult. But it does take some effort. Once again, I highly recommend sitting quietly and focusing each day on the things that are important in your life. This daily meditation or quiet time can work miracles for you.

Once you can clearly tell the world what you need, the world can begin working to help you get it. You have probably heard the theory that the world conspires to assist you as soon as you decide to do something. Well, one piece of what’s going on there is that YOU are seeing opportunities more clearly because you’ve articulated goals for yourself.

We all want things. We all need things. And we all need to learn how to ask for what we want.


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Tis the season for people to start putting together their “to do” lists for next year.

– Exercise more
– Eat less
– etc.

All too often this “exercise” is simply an exercise in futility. People add things to their lists because they think they should. Or, even more commonly, they really want to accomplish something next year, but they don’t put together a PLAN in addition to items on a list.

Goals are great. Goals are necessary. But real, meaningful goals have to be coupled with action plans. Think about it this way: When I ask an audience of any size whether they want to be millionaires, virtually everyone raises their hand. Then when I ask how many have a plan to get to that status, I might get one or two hands.

A goal without a plan is just a wish. And most of the time it’s a wish that won’t come true.

We all want to exercise more, eat less, spend less, save more, and spend more time with our families. But some people WILL and some people WON’T make progress on those goals in the year ahead. Overwhelmingly, the people who actually make progress will be those who have a plan and work to make the plan come true.

You hear a lot of talk about dedication or conviction around goals. Without playing too many word games, let me say that most people are dedicated to their goals. But they don’t execute. And the reason is that you really have to have a plan wedged between the goal and the conviction. Here’s what I mean.

Let’s take exercising as an example.

Conviction comes from a sincere desire to accomplish something. But a goal of “exercising more” is pretty imprecise. It’s hard to execute. It’s hard to measure. It’s hard to hold yourself accountable. And it’s difficult for others to help you hold yourself accountable.

But a plan takes the ethereal goal and turns it into one or more visible, physical action steps. A plan doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to have enough specific action steps to turn desire into results. If the goal is “exercise more,” the plan might be to walk one mile a day, five days a week.

You can measure this very easily. You might even check off days on a calendar or use a software program to track your progress.

But here’s the key: What happens when you slip? What happens when you skip a day or two? If you only have a wish and a desire, it’s hard for conviction to take hold. When you add a PLAN to the process, you have a way to get back on track. The plan gives you someone to grab onto and get back headed in the right direction.

That’s what I mean about wedging the plan between the desire and the conviction. A plan of action gives you something hold onto and something to get back to.

If you plan is written, that’s best. You can literally pull it would a read it. For simple goals, a one sentence or one paragraph plan is ideal. Read it regularly as part of your daily quiet time and it will keep you headed in the right direction.

Good luck with your goal setting for the end of the year. Just don’t forget the important part: A plan to make your goals come true.


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There’s a lot of “universal” advice out there.  The always-present everyone says don’t smoke, exercise more, eat your fruits and vegetables.

One piece of universal advice is to stop worrying, or at least reduce the level of worry in your life.  After all, we have plenty to worry about—Money, our children, our parents, our spouse’s happiness, a long list of problems at work, even the health of our pets.

Worrying, we are told, adds stress to our lives and focuses on the negative.  It keeps us awake at night, gives us ulcers and is bad for the economy.

I think that’s all a bunch of baloney.

Worrying is natural.  In moderation, worrying is good.  There’s something wrong with people who don’t worry enough!

In the big scheme of things, there are a few people who worry too much (some tiny percentage of the population).  They have intriguing phobias that become fodder for news stories.  This condition (worrying too much) is so rare that most people only learn about it from afternoon TV junk-talk shows.

There is much more of a problem with people who don’t worry enough. Think about this.  What’s your image of someone who doesn’t worry about what other people think, doesn’t worry about social norms, doesn’t worry about paying his bills or insuring his car, doesn’t worry about keeping himself clean or being responsible for his own actions?  The picture in my mind is a young person who is completely irresponsible, who has made a mess of his life and others and who has left it up to other people to fix his messes.

A handful of these people make it to adulthood without changing their ways.  Most, however, go through a long painful process of paying their debts, raising their children, having to work hard and becoming responsible adults.  At which point they find themselves worrying a normal amount—just like the rest of us.

Worrying is a fundamentally good behavior.                                                                                                                                         

As with any other behavior, there is a great benefit to be gained by:

1)      Examining the behavior

2)      Learning to control the behavior

3)      Focusing the behavior

4)      And integrating the behavior into our overall understanding of ourselves.

Thus, the behavior–worrying–becomes one more important piece of our success.

Let’s look at three aspects of worrying

—  What is worry?

—  How much worrying is right?

—  How can we focus our worry in order to reap its benefits?

By “worrying” we generally mean that we are thinking about something; the something is usually a problem that needs to be solved (e.g., “Where will be get the money to . . .”) or a concern about future events (e.g., the health of a loved one); our mind wanders back to the something whenever it has the opportunity; and we find ourselves thinking about the something when we don’t want to.

Thus we find ourselves worrying while we try to sleep or while we’re driving, but not when we’re engaged in a project that requires our full attention.  For example, work keeps our mind off our troubles.

Interestingly, most people “try not to worry.”  In practice this means we try to not think about our problems.  But our unconscious mind knows that the problem needs to be addressed.  So whenever our mind isn’t busy with something else, the thing we should be thinking about pops up to get its share of attention.

What are you trying to avoid addressing in your life?  Why is it that humans think some problems will go away if you ignore them?

Don’t think about the roof and it won’t leak.  Don’t think about your teenager’s risky behavior and it will stop.  Don’t think about your relationship problems and they’ll all smooth out.

Baloney!  You know it’s not true.

We have problems we want to avoid:  We know we should think about them but we don’t want to.  One way that we avoid thinking about problems we don’t want to think about “right now” is to spend time on a hobby or on busy work.

Have you ever noticed that our hobbies tend to be rather technical and detailed?  Whether it’s carving or needlework or gardening or making things or whatever.  Our hobbies fill our minds and are distractions.  This is good—in fact it’s extremely good for our mental health—unless we’re using it to avoid thinking about a problem that needs to be addressed.

Let’s face it, we have problems we embrace and we have problems we avoid.  Those we embrace are labeled “projects” and those we avoid are labeled “worry.”  The only substantive difference is whether we’re ready to address the problem.

Now we know what worry is.  How much worrying is the right amount?  That’s difficult to quantify.  I believe we need to think about the problems in our lives enough so that we understand them.  Notice I didn’t say that we need to “solve” the problems.  If a loved one is gravely sick, there’s little most of us can do to “fix the problem.”  We’re sad, perhaps depressed, maybe scared.  We have a flood of conflicting emotions that we “don’t have time for” or otherwise wish to avoid.

In such a circumstance, we need to force ourselves to sit down and think about what’s going on.  Let the emotions flood in; become overwhelmed; have a good cry; say a prayer; and then go back to our routine for awhile.

It may be necessary to do this every day for some time.  We need to let ourselves feel the feelings we’ve been trying to avoid.  We need to let all the aspects of this experience come out.  It’s difficult and physically draining.  But you need to let yourself experience what’s going on.

Some problems you can solve, but right now you don’t see the solution.  For example, financial problems.  Too many bills, or not enough income, or an unexpected expense.  It’s all too overwhelming, so we set it aside.  Intellectually, we know the problem will just get worse.  But it’s “just too much” to think about right now.

The answer, of course, is to consider all the pieces of this problem:  Your income, your regular bills, your credit, possible sources of loans or other income, payment plans, and so forth.  This is definitely a problem that can be solved.  It requires a lot of thought; it requires a plan of action; it requires some change in behavior; and it requires asking others for help.

These are just a few examples.  In each case the amount of “worry” (thinking about the problem) required is the same. You need to think about it enough to understand the problem.

Oddly enough, most of us spend more emotional energy avoiding our problems than we would spend understanding them if we tried.

Reducing Worry

You can reduce the amount of “worry” in your life by taking time to relax and simply reflect on what’s going on.  If you take time every day to sit down and relax and focus on yourself, you will find these problems a lot less overwhelming.

I try to sit down every day and reflect on four aspects of my life:

– Myself as an individual

– Myself as a father

– Myself as a friend

– Myself as a businessman.

I rarely make lists of what needs to be done or what problems need to be addressed.  I simply think about what’s going on and what I need to do today.  If there’s a problem in one of these areas, or with something else, I let my mind consider it.  I don’t look for solutions or answers.  I do try to consider all aspects of the problem.  The goal is to understand everything about the problem.  When I think I really understand the problem, then it becomes clearer what I need to do.

Worry brings benefits.  That sounds odd to us.  Let me rephrase it:  Spending time thinking about problems brings good things into our lives.

There are two types of “focusing” on problems.  The first is to open your mind and let the problems flood in.  Perhaps focus is the wrong term.  This is more like out-of-focus.  Sit down with a pencil and paper and relax.  Take a few deep breaths and try to clear your mind.  Think about nothing.  Focus on the way your breath feels moving in and out.


If you have things to worry about, they will interrupt your relaxation.  As a “worry” presents itself, write down a brief note (not a long paragraph).  For example, you might write

–          College Savings

–          Business partner

–          Ad revenues

–          Etc.

Don’t pass judgment, don’t try to solve the problem, don’t get into details.  Just list your worries.  Set yourself a time a do this listing for ten or fifteen minutes each day for a week.  I guarantee that by day four you will be a lot less worried at night or when you’re concentrating on something else during the day.  Why?  Because your mind has been allowed to spend some time on the things it knows you should be thinking about!

The next step is to focus more clearly on your problems.  For the next several days spend your 10-15 minutes sitting comfortably and “organizing” your problems.  You may want to sort the list into categories such a family, finances, employees, etc.

Then spend a little time writing a bit of detail about each concern.  For example:

I’m worried about college savings for my kids because I’m starting late.  I wonder what college will really cost.  What’s my goal?  How do I get started?  Who can help me?  I need to talk to my spouse about this.

Set yourself a strict limit on this activity.  No more than 30 minutes a day!  You’ll be amazed!  It will give you energy.  Worry will stop draining your energy.  And as you focus on the problem you will naturally break it down into smaller pieces that are much more manageable.

This, in turn, will lead to taking actions that address the problem.  In other words, you’ll be working on a solution!  What you’ve done is to stop spending your energy trying not to worry.  Instead, you are spending a limited amount of energy focusing on issues that need some attention.

Instead of letting “worry” have an unscheduled, unlimited amount of your time, you have allowed a specific amount of time to be used improving your life!

Again, I guarantee that you will see a dramatic reduction in the amount of time spent on unscheduled worry during the day (and night).  Your mind knows that you need to spend time on these activities.  When you allot this time, your mind is more relaxed and it doesn’t need to force these thoughts upon you.

And, even better, when such thoughts pop into your mind now, they will be productive and bring solutions.  The process of focusing on a problem for a specific period and then setting it aside has tremendous power.  It organizes your unconscious mind, which works on possible solutions while you’re doing other things.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the solutions come forth into your conscious mind.

Problems never solve themselves:  You need to worry in a healthy way and you will find a solution.  Just as we have to focus on our happiness and our family and our health, we also need to focus on our problems.

You will never be without problems.  But you can be without excessive, unnecessary worry.  Allow yourself time to work on your problems and you’ll have a much more restful mind throughout the day.  Because you’re worrying enough—and not too much.

“Do not anticipate trouble,

or worry about what may never happen.”

— Benjamin Franklin

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