Monday, June 22, 2009


lost in this moment

whatever it is.

a knight's tale

Turn me on (lyrics) -Norah Jones

Like a flower waiting to bloom Like a lightbulb in a dark room I'm just sitting here waiting for you To come home and turn me on Like the desert waiting for the rain Like a school kid waiting for the spring I'm just sitting here waiting for you To come on home and turn me on My poor heart, it's been so dark since you been gone After all, you're the one who turns me off You're the only one who can turn me back on My hi-fi's waiting for a new tune The glass is waiting for some fresh ice cubes I'm just sitting here waiting for you To come on home and turn me on Turn me on

3 sayings that hit me to the core today...

1) it happenedly slowly, then gradually, then all of a sudden
2) For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
3) you can't control the outcome, only your effort

Let the money mean something... -Ken Roberts

What would you say if I offered you a job that paid a million dollars a year? Sounds pretty good, doesn’ t it? There’s just one catch. Come on, you knew there had to be one.
The catch is you have to do something completely meaningless in order to collect your paycheck. You see, I have this big pile of rocks, and I’d like you to move that big pile of rocks, each and every day, day in and day out, from one side of the yard to the other. There’s no real purpose to all this lifting and toting. I just like to have my rocks on the left one day and on the right the next. I’m funny that way. Oh, and don’t ask where I’m getting the money. That’s my little secret.
You might think, “Hey, for a million dollars I’d do anything.” Maybe so, but with a job like that, you’d probably spend your million on just about anything that might possibly patch the increasing number of holes you’d develop in your soul.
Just a few years ago, I was doing something that felt, to me, a lot like moving rocks. I was a district manager for a large manufacturer and distributor of salty snacks. Potato chips, corn chips, pretzels, and so forth. If it contained salt, starch, and grease, we sold it. It was the biggest salary I’d ever earned and there were a lot of hints that I had a good chance of moving up and earning a bigger one. But I simply didn’t care if anyone ever stuffed another potato chip in their mouth again.
I was dead inside. If you’ve never been through a deep depression, I can tell you that it’s a very dark place I never want to visit again. One day, I looked at my wife and said, “If I don’t get out of this, I think I could become suicidal.” And I meant it.
So, I did a very rash thing. I quit. I had some plans that didn’t work out, and I won’t bother you with the details, but let’s just say I found my way to Rock Bottom Canyon. To this day, there are people who think I was crazy and I’d say they were right. I was crazy. But I’ll also tell you this. Leaving that meaningless, sixty-to-seventy-hour-a- week existence was the sanest thing I ever did, and in time, it became the most rewarding.
I’m not suggesting that you march into work tomorrow and throw a crumpled up goodbye letter in your boss’s face. If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have done things differently. I would have tried to carve out a space for making a little meaning each and every day and slowly worked my way out of there. But I didn’t know that then, and given what I knew, I did what I did and I’d do it all over again.
The point is this. Money is a wonderful thing. It can fund your dreams, support your family, and keep you warm and fed. But it should never rob you of your soul. And if that’s what your work is doing to you, then I’m urging you to do something about it because your soul is worth saving.
I’ve had a funky relationship with money most of my life, wanting it but feeling bad about the wanting as if money was dirty. It’s not. It’s just money, and I wouldn’t mind having some more. But before I make money, I have to make meaning, and if I’m going to make money, it has to mean something.
Today, I wait tables. It’s the perfect thing for me, right now. The money’s actually pretty good and I enjoy the work, talking to customers and bustling about, and I love my coworkers. They’re the best group of people I’ve ever worked with, bar none. But the best thing about the job is that when I go home at the end of the shift, it’s over and the rest of my time is all mine. Since I started waiting tables, I’ve used that time to find out who I really am, who I’d really love to become, and what I love to do.
I stopped trying to be someone else in order to impress a group of people who cared nothing about who I really was or what really mattered to me. That doesn’t mean they were bad people. It just wasn’t their job to care about those things. That job was mine, just as it’s your job to determine who you really are and what really matters to you.
I started taking that job seriously, and as a result, I’m healthier now and happier now. My relationships are stronger than ever. I’m whole. And I’m developing a vision I never had when I plodded my way through the world with blinders on.
It’s not my intention to wait tables for the rest of my life. But I’ll do it as long as I need to in order to build something of my own, because now that I’ve developed a daily habit of creation, I’m ready to develop my own ideas, build my own business, set my own schedule, and establish some of my own rules and procedures. I don’t expect it to be easy, but I do expect it to be rewarding and interesting because, this time, I’m going to let the money mean something.
I’d like to encourage you to make a little meaning every day, to try your hand at some creative endeavor, to learn something new, and stretch yourself. As you do, I believe you’ll experience something akin to what musician Juana Molina said recently in an interview about her experience in creating music. She said, “Little by little, my ridiculously small universe becomes huge.” I want to live in just such a universe; I hope you’ll join me.

Shoot the Moon (lyrics) -Norah Jones

The summer days are gone too soon You shoot the moon And miss completely And now you're left to face the gloom The empty room that once smelled sweetly Of all the flowers you plucked if only You knew the reason Why you had to each be lonely Was it just the season? Now the fall is here again You can't begin to give in It's all over When the snows come rolling through You're rolling too with some new lover Will you think of times you've told me That you knew the reason Why we had to each be lonely It was just the season

Set your sights on quality -ken roberts

Your bookshelf is overflowing with books you haven’t read. Your to-do list is a hundred items long and you’ve only checked off two. There’s so much you want to do, to see, to obtain and the wanting has you overwhelmed.
Somewhere in the back of your mind, you’re frantically trying to find a way to grab it all up in your tight little fists and stuff it into your life.
But life is not a hotdog eating contest. You don’t have to cram it all in. With no time to chew and no time to savor, you’re left with little more than indigestion and regrets.
Take just one book off your shelf and read it – and enjoy it. Spending an hour with one good book is far better than shopping for three more that will only add to your collection of things undone and the guilt that follows. You can buy another book when you’ve finished the one you’re reading.
Draw one picture, just one picture, and take your time. Notice the curves and the angles and the shapes. Get lost in it, swim in it, live in it. Drawing one picture as best you can is better than wishing you could draw a dozen more. When you’re finished, you’ll have something to hold and gaze upon, and you’ll be better than when you began. Then you’ll be ready to draw the next one.
Take any of the things you wish to do (It doesn’t matter which one.), and do it, and only it. Let go of all the other things for just this time. They’ll still be there when you’re done. But for now, do this one thing and let it soak your bones.
Multitasking, neuroscientists have repeatedly shown, is a myth. Your brain simply can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. All that switching about shortens the attention span and lessens your ability to enjoy and be at peace with the task at hand.
Let others aim for quantity. Set your sights on quality. Use all your senses and really experience what you’re doing. It will make everything you do afterwards that much richer.

Nick, 3rd brother through bootcamp!

Hanging with my lil bro Nick, he just got back from bootcamp in san antonio!

some motivation...

Quality of life... -Adam Kahn

TRIM TAB IS A LITTLE RUDDER on the end of a big rudder. You can move the little rudder (the trim tab) and it moves the big rudder, which moves the ship. The trim tab needs only a little energy and it can move the entire ship!
There's a trim tab of your mind, too. In the larger sense, on the scale of the big rudder in this analogy, is your attention. You can put your attention on different things and it will give you a different experience. Having a nice meal with your family, you can allow yourself to enjoy the moment, put your attention on the good food and the pleasure of sharing it with people you love, or you can put your attention on something bad that happened yesterday or something bad that might happen tomorrow.
The objective circumstances haven't changed at all, but you'll have an entirely different experience depending on where you put your attention. The quality of your life at any given moment depends on what you have your attention on.
The problem is, you don't have complete control of your attention, do you? You don't try to worry; you try not to worry and you still worry. Or get angry. Or remember depressing events, or whatever. Your mind seems to have a mind of its own and thinks what it wants to, at least some of the time. It seems very clear that you don't have control of your own mind.
But that isn't true. You are potentially capable of controlling your mind. You can potentially control your attention. And if you did, you would control the quality of your life. But just because you are potentially capable doesn't mean you know how. You are potentially capable of picking a lock, but that doesn't mean you know how. And in a sense, if you don't know how, it doesn't really matter if you're potentially capable.
I'm going to tell you how you can control your attention and thus control the quality of your life. It is very simple. It's like a magic trick. It seems very mysterious and amazing until you see how it's done and then it's no big deal. I'm going to tell you what the trim tab of your life is. Are you ready?
The way you control your mind, the way to control your attention and with it the quality of your life is by asking questions.
Asking questions are the trim tab. With very little effort, they can move your attention, and where you put your attention alters the course of your life.
Have you ever tried to "think positive?" How did you do it? Probably by telling yourself things. You find yourself worried about something and you tell yourself, "It's going to turn out okay." Or you're going to go in for an interview and you try to pump yourself up, "Come on, Adam, you're going to go in there and do great!" It sometimes doesn't work very well, does it? Telling yourself things is not very effective much of the time. It's like trying to turn a ship by pushing on its side: It takes a lot of effort for a little result. Sure, it works a little bit. But not very much and it often feels like you're lying to yourself, which in itself is an unpleasant experience.
Asking questions is much easier. You don't have to lie to yourself. You don't have to pump up anything. You don't have to use force. It is easy and gentle. Your mind, your thoughts, your attention — they all naturally and easily follow the direction of a question.
I have heard a well-paid speaker say you can't control your thinking. And he proved it. He said, "If you think you can control your thinking, then stop thinking. Right now. Go ahead. Stop thinking. You can't." That's a pretty good argument if you don't really look at it too deeply. No, you can't stop thinking. Your mind thinks. That's what it does. Just like your lungs breathe. That's what they do. You can't stop breathing either (not for very long anyway), but that doesn't mean you can't control your breathing. You can breathe shallow and slow or hyperventilate. It's up to you. You can control it. But if you don't do anything about it, your lungs will continue breathing anyway. You might not like the way your lungs are breathing, and if that's the case, you can simply take over the controls and start breathing any way you want. And as soon as you stop paying attention, your lungs go on "automatic pilot."
The same is true of your thoughts. When your "automatic pilot" — that is, your normal, habitual pattern of thinking — makes you miserable, that is the time to take over, to sit in the pilot seat and take control. You steer your mind by asking questions. And soon as you get your mind going where you want, you can leave it alone and it will go back on automatic pilot again.
There are a few important points to know about asking yourself questions because which questions you ask make a big difference. If you ask yourself things like, "What should I be afraid of? What might go wrong? Why am I such a loser? Why is life so miserable?" those questions will direct your mind all right — but in the wrong direction.
The first question to ask is always something about your purpose. What is your goal here? Let's say you find yourself feeling down. You realize you are experiencing dysphoria (negative emotion), and you want to get out of it. Your automatic pilot is taking you to hell and you don't want to go that way. The way to get hold of the steering column is by asking a question. Make your first question about your purpose: "What is my goal here?" or "What do I want?" This is not to figure out why you are thinking depressed thoughts. You are asking yourself what you desire. What do you intend to accomplish right now? Probably your answer is, "I want to feel better." Or, "I want to concentrate on my work," or, "I want my spouse and I to have a good time."
Your next questions should be to bring about that purpose. And this is not a way to avoid important issues in your life. If you are depressed because you haven't done your taxes, you can feel better if you decide when you will sit down and do them. Write that down if you have to. Then you can turn your attention to other things.
Let's say you want you and your spouse to have a good time. Next question is something about that: "What can I do in that direction?" You have redirected your mind. You're now thinking along a new line. And it will take you in a different direction.
In the article, Undemoralize Yourself, the techniques are effective, and guess what? The techniques are based on asking particular questions. When you feel dysphoric, what do you do? First ask yourself, "What am I thinking?"
When you figure that out, then ask yourself, "Is that necessarily the case? Am I completely sure it's true? Is there any evidence for it? Is it logical? Am I completely justified in making that assumption?" And if you can't determine whether it's true or not, you again ask yourself a question: "Is it practical to think? Or is it counterproductive?"
The way to take over the direction of your mind is by asking questions. Your mind is compelled to find answers to the questions you sincerely ask. So make sure you are asking good questions. Use your ability to ask questions to direct your attention in ways that serve your outcome.
When you're trying to go to sleep, for example, you don't want to have your thoughts on frightening things: It doesn't serve the outcome you want (to fall asleep). You want your attention to be on feelings of comfort and relaxation, so ask questions to direct your attention: "What is the most comfortable part of my body right now? Can I shift to another position and become even more relaxed and comfortable? Is there a tense muscle somewhere in my body? (And when you find it): How relaxed can I make that muscle? Would I feel better if I took a deep breath?"
Hey! Wake up! Are you yawning? Did those questions direct your mind into a sleepy state? But what is your purpose here? To go to sleep? If so, shut off your computer and go to bed.
But if you want to be wide awake and learn something, ask yourself right now, "What can I do to become more alert?" Ponder the possibilities. Sit up straight? Change your breathing? Turn the lights on brighter? Sometimes it even works to simply imagine the lights are brighter. How about this one: Read a little faster and make the voice in your head talk faster in a slightly higher pitch with more emphasis and urgency. Feeling more alert now? Good.
My point is: Direct your attention in a way that serves your purpose. Ask questions (that's the trim tab) to direct your attention (that's the rudder) to change the quality of your life (that's the ship). It starts with a question.

Thing you can't control; By Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D.

Just as part of being productive is taking control over those areas where we can exert some control, so too is letting go of those areas where we can't. Here are some examples of areas where we squander our productivity by spending time and effort trying to control something that isn't controllable.
Traffic. You can certainly make choices about how you travel somewhere as well as the times you travel by car, but you cannot control the traffic itself. Let it go.
Weather. Railing against the skies when the weather isn't what you "ordered" makes you look more than a bit silly.
Airline schedules. After 9/11, I calmed right down. It's not that I'm not disappointed sometimes when my plane is cancelled or delayed, but, I recognized that these events aren't in my control. Having a good book or a charged up cell phone is in my control so I try to use these times well.
Our in-laws (or our own parents!) HA! Better learn this one.
Other people's beliefs. You can influence others but you cannot change anyone else's belief system.
Other people's attitudes. Your attitude can affect others but you can't change their attitudes.
Other people's ethics. Ditto. If someone else's ethics are causing you great distress, then figure out how to get out of the situation, fast.
Other people's emotions. Good communication can help you find out what others' emotions might be, but you can't *change* them.
Other people's parenting. Watching other people make mistakes as parents is just part of life...and again, you can influence some people but most others you are observing are not particularly interested in your just do the best job you can with your own children (or nieces & nephews).
Other people's politics. As never before, this seems to be an area where we can't change anyone. We need to do our part to vote our beliefs and our politics and effect change that way. We sure can't control anyone else's politics.
Do you notice a pattern? The last 7 in particular are "other people."
The best you can hope for is to influence other people, but controlling them is out of the question. For some of you reading this, you can regain hours each week by letting go of worry, time, and effort trying to control any of the ten items listed above. Print this out so you have it for a handy reference.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Risk & Reward...

Risk and Reward: "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."-- Robert F. Kennedy "I'd rather regret the things I have done than the things I have not."-- Lucille Ball "...the creator of the new composition in the arts is an outlaw until he is a classic."- Gertrude Stein"A fool is someone whose pencil wears out before its eraser does."-- Marilyn vos Savant "He who never made a mistake, never made a discovery."-- Samuel Smiles "Show me a person who has never made a mistake and I'll show you somebody who has never achieved much."-- Joan Collins "If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative."-- Woody Allen "However well organized the foundations of life may be, life must always be full of risks."-- Havelock Ellis "If you're not making mistakes, you're not taking risks, and that means you're not going anywhere. The key is to make mistakes faster than the competition, so you have more changes to learn and win."-- John W. Holt, Jr. "If you are never scared, embarrassed, or hurt, it means you never take chances."-- Julia Soul "Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be a fish."-- Ovid "Far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory, nor defeat."-- Theodore Roosevelt "Of course we all have our limits, but how can you possibly find your boundaries unless you explore as far and as wide as you possibly can? I would rather fail in an attempt at something new and uncharted than safely succeed in a repeat of something I have done."-- A.E. Hotchner "And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more."-- Erica Jong "The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one."-- Elbert Hubbard "Take chances, make mistakes. That's how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave."-- Mary Tyler Moore "Be bold. If you're going to make an error, make a doozy, and don't be afraid to hit the ball."-- Billie Jean King "Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."-- Scott Adams "Art is making something out of nothing and selling it."-- Frank Zappa "To imagine is everything, to know is nothing at all."-- Anatole France "To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything."-- Anatole France "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."-- Albert Einstein "All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination."-- Barbara Grizzuti Harrison"Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The "sure thing" boat never gets far from shore."-- Dale Carnegie "Twenty years from now you will be disappointed by things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover."-- Mark Twain "If you wait for opportunities to occur, you will be one of the crowd."-- Edward de Bono "You can't cross the sea merely by staring at the water."-- Rabindranath Tagore "He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea."-- Thomas Fuller "A ship in harbor is safe, But that is not what ships are built for."- unknown "Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out."-- James B. Conant "Self-confidence is the result of a successfully survived risk."-- Jack Gibb "Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble."-- Ralph Waldo Emerson "Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?"-- Frank Scully "Some things cannot be spoken or discovered until we have been stuck, incapacitated, or blown off course for awhile. Plain sailing is pleasant, but you are not going to explore many unknown realms that way."-- David Whyte "Always do what you are afraid to do."-- Ralph Waldo "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do."-- Walter Bagehot "My mother gave me a bumblebee pin when I started work. She said: 'Aerodynamically, bees shouldn't be able to fly. But they do. Remember that.'"-- Jill E. Barad "Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was."-- Dag Hammarskjold "If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."-- Mario Andretti"We don't know who we are until we see what we can do."-- Martha Grimes "The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for."-- Maureen Dowd "Progress always involves risk; you can't steal second base and keep your foot on first."-- Frederick Wilcox "A failure is like fertilizer; it stinks to be sure, but it makes things grow faster in the future."-- Dennis Waitley "Commit yourself to a dream. Nobody who tries to do something great but fails is a total failure. Why? Because he can always rest assured that he succeeded in life's most important battle - he defeated the fear of trying."-- Robert Schuller "Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the "someday I'll" philosophy."-- Denis Waitley To laugh is to risk appearing the fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach for another is to risk involvement.To expose your feelings is to risk exposing your true self. To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To believe is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure. But risks must be taken,because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live. Chained by their attitudes they are slaves; they have forfeited their freedom. Only a person who risks is free. ~ Anonymous Chicago teacher

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

5 ½ year plan w/ a few digressions, wait what was I talking about again?

How many people do you know that have a 5 year plan? I’m not sure I know of one that has it written down. I decided to take 10-15 minutes today to kind of reflect about the past, present, and future and maybe develop a 5 year plan from there. I don’t think it’s as important to follow one’s 5 year plan as it is to envision what one wants for the next 5 years. With that being said, I will use mine as more of a guiding light and a navigational tool in life, as I have with several of my past “5 year plans.” The reason I say this is because I know if you would’ve told me 5 years ago I’d be where I am today I wouldn’t have believed you, I’d have labeled you as crazy. Even as little as two years ago, my life has completely flipped turned upside down. They say if you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans. I think God would pay to see my life as a stand up comedy show. I read somewhere that the biggest growth and the most challenging time we’ll ever know is in our twenties. Generations ago your life was basically scripted for you. If you weren’t married with kids by 22, 23, or god forsaken 25, there was something wrong with you. You were out of the norm. Life was pretty simple; grow up, go to school, find your sweetheart, soulmate, babygurl, raise a family, and retire with enough money you can enjoy it. There weren’t as many choices, people didn’t travel as much, the American Dream was owning a house, that was it. I hate to say it, but times have changed, people have changed. Those who grew up in Michigan can’t find a job in Michigan, they’re forced to move. They immediately become part of the rare 5% that live 50 miles away from their hometown. No longer is owning a house everybody’s dream, some people love the city, want a view, want to travel, want to live abroad, want to create a foundation, a business, a perpetual entity, want to create art, music, be famous, chase, chase, chase that’s what we do. Is anyone really happy anymore? Or is it all a fa├žade? We’re overleveraged, living on credit, trying to keep up with the Jones’s, material possessions consume us, and our desires our consuming our soul. No longer is going from A to B the goal, it’s going from A to B better than the last person and much more in style. People don’t talk about world events anymore they talk about themselves. We’re our own center of the universe, how sad is that? More women than ever go to college, so instead of getting married at 17 they are waiting until 21 to even think about pursuing that option. Women’s self-worth isn’t predicated on their baby-making and domestic skills, they are actually creating an identity based on their values, personality, and desires. They are on a more level playing field then ever, they are becoming more dependent and less reliant on us. They now can be more picky, and they should be. Many people use to sacrifice themselves to make everyone else happy, they only thought about not hurting anyone else, instead of worrying about what was really important, themselves. They weren’t fair to thyself. One of the everlasting true statements of our time, “Be True to Thyself”, because if you aren’t true to yourself how could you be true to anyone else? It’s not just the trains, plains, and automobiles that are taking us away and transplanting us in foreign environments. It’s the blackberries that prevent us from meeting strangers, it’s the internet we use to communicate instead of actually walking down the block to say hi, it’s more work hours, less vacation that’s isolating us. The very thing, technology, that was suppose to make everything more simple, fast, reliable is actually hampering our ability to communicate. How many of today’s children are book smart, yet lack the very basic communication skills? Video games, cell phones, computers, internet, movies, and music are making our kids walking voids, making them socially awkward. Instead of playdates they are playing a stranger in World of Warcraft, instead of football under the street lights they are bowling with the Wii, instead of hanging out on the porch they are texting, sexting, and instant messaging, instead of living in the real world they are living in Sim City. We wonder why America is losing ground to the developing nations, we lack the very skill it takes to compete in the market, we lack interpersonal communication.After college, you are still coming into your own, you’re growing mentally, spiritually, and consciously. You are realizing your place in the world, where you want to be, and who you want to be with. I believe the reason so many people break up in their mid to late twenties is because they weren’t who they were when they began their relationship. Trying to understand, feel, and adjust to your maturing as a man/woman is not only tough, but trying to grow and also manage a relationship with someone who might be changing in a very different way can sometimes be impossible. You weren’t who you were when you were 21 and neither are they. And that’s okay. A couple years ago I found myself often questioning the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is our purpose? Who am I ? What makes me happy? I started studying other cultures, religions, and traditions, to see if I was missing something. I found these truths to be self-evident, I found these questions were universal. Just like love transcends all feelings, happiness is what you create. Too many people forget, happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have, it depends solely upon what you think. “Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.”-Dale Carnegie Life is a journey, not a destination. Life isn’t about knowing. It’s about living for the moment. It’s about finding the person you can go through anything with and still find something to laugh about together at the end of the day. Its’ about making your dreams come true. Its about making mistakes. Its about finding what makes you happy. Life has never been about knowing, so stop wasting time wishing you knew. I felt like I need to preface my five year plan with my ideas and thoughts so you as the reader would know where I’m coming from and my state of mind. My five year plan would be better labeled as a guidance, than a plan. With the ultimate goal being happiness, I could care less if I achieved of failed my plan. The plan is just a means to the end, and if in the end I’m happy than that to me is the definition of success. As I’m writing this I’m thinking about Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. I saw a video about it that was trying to explain how as you get older time seems to go by quicker. It was talking about when you were younger and how your first birthday you remembered seemed to be so long and such a wonderful memory. It was indeed a big part of your life. And then when you were in your thirties and forties how you could easily forget a birthday. It talked about since you only lived for five years, a year was a fifth of your life, 20%, therefore relatively major. But as you get older, as the days, weeks, months, and years go by, 5 years turns into a much smaller perecentage, therefore each day seems like it goes by faster because it is a smaller increment of your life. I think that’s important to state because, as some point in your life you are going to hit the middle of it, where you are no longer growing, but starting to shrink, everyday you live is a closer day to your death. I know that seems like a weird twisted way to put it. But if you position it in your mind correctly it can be very rewarding. Tim Mcgraw said it best when he sung, “Live like you were Dying.” It is only when one confronts death head on that one seems to live. The goal isn’t to survive it’s to thrive. With that being said, I feel like 5 years is still a very large percentage of my life, 20%. At the end of that 5 year plan, 5 years would be only 15% of my life. I guess what I am saying, due to relativity, it would make more sense to have a shorter plan than 5 years, since 5 years is still a fifth of my life, who could actually try to plan the next fifth of their life? And be anywhere close to accurate? No one.And no one in their right mind, certainly not myself would’ve placed me in Grand Rapids working for Fidelity. I’m looking in the rear view and still wondering how I got here. I think this is the first time since I left ML that I’ve actually reflected on what has happened. There’s been three chapters of my life since college.
1) June 1st, 2005; Starting my career at Edward Jones in Utica, Mi (I will write about this at a later date)
2) Jan 1st 2008; Buying a house and moving to Grand Rapids to further my career in the industry with Merrill Lynch (I will write about this at a later date)
3) April 2009; Leaving Merrill Lynch and taking a step backwards to go two step forwards with Fidelity. (I will write about this at a later date)
Back in October/November, Jt and I really started talking about moving to Grand Rapids. We were both pretty unimpressed with the scene for mid 20 year old males in the metro detroit area. He began dating Panda again, and was going to G-Rap every weekend already. He was having a tough time making it at Edward Jones and knew he wasn't going to be there forever. I knew I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in the Detroit area, I was building quite a book at Jones and I knew the longer I stayed the harder it would be to ever leave. But even on my way to a 88k w-2 year, I knew there was much more to life than money. Jt and I went to Grand Rapids for a Halloween Bar Crawl and were real impressed with the downtown. Unlike Detroit, Grand Rapids had a cab system, on top of that there was a downtown where everybody went, even better it was only 2 1/2 hours from Chicago, where we had a few friends. In December, Merrill Lynch gave me a generous offer. I thought about it for a couple days and didn't know if I was quite ready to leave metro Detroit. I had a lot of business in the pipeline and our lease at our townhouse ran until March. Using Chung logic I figured, that everybody had their price and my price to leave a good thing, a comfortable thing, would be nearly double what they had already generously offered. After all everything is negotiable right? After speaking with the manager on the phone, which to no one's suprise, he said that they just couldn't pay that kind of money. Easy enough, the decision was made for me, I didn't have to make it, and life goes on... Or so I thought, the next morning they called me three times and left voicemails. I was in appointments all day, when I finally returned the call I found out they wanted to meet again and see if we could strike a compromise. Again we met, we talked, ironed out some details, they wanted my updated 12 month rolling commissions, and were willing to meet more than half way. After the meeting, I hung with Jt, Panda, and some friends. I told them about the new offer, they said I'd be crazy not to take it. After a week to decide, I again decided not too take it. ML graciously accepted my response, an hour later they offered what I asked for, and wanted me to start next week. I consulted my dad, and decided I would take the job. I asked for two weeks so I could start on Jan 1st, 2008. In those two weeks I found a house, put a bid on it, got it accepted, closed on all the paperwork, negotiated a mortgage, had the house appraised, and applied for home insurance. On Jan 1st, 2008 I was handed the keys to a 3,100 sq ft, 3/4 of an acre, 6 bedroom, 5 bathroom house w/ a 8 person hot tub. And yes I bought the house for the hot tub. Looking back on it, I would've never bought such a big house. And if you ever buy a house, make sure you're ready for all the upkeep that comes with it, I was not. But in the end, just like everything else I'm very glad I did. 2008 flew by. I had tons of friends coming to visit whether it was Sorgi at State or Horvath from Cooley, or Tyler and Caleb from Chicago, or Mario, Jt, Jen, Amanda, and all the Eastside friends. The girls I met from Wisconsin came, Will flew in from California. I had a summer kick off, fourth of july party, Halloween Party, Birthday bash, the house was made for Hosting. And with downtown being so easy to get to and there being so much more 20 somethings than in the detroit area we were doing it big every weekend. While everything was great in my social life. Work was falling apart. Merrill just fired there CEO Stanley O'neil when I was coming in, little did I know that was the first of many problems. SubPrime Mortgages and Credit Default swaps were taking out a lot of banks and investment banking units, many people didn't realize that Merrill was the biggest player in that arena, and that would be one of the hardest hit. The incumbent got us into this mess, but soon after the next CEO John Thain would be let go, the media brought his ridiculous bonuses and spending habits to light. On the verge of going bankrupt ML would be saved by Bank of America, a deal brokered by the Government. If we weren't saved by BAC, we would've gone under like Leighman Brothers. ML wasn't the best name to begin with when it came to the middle class, which was my entire book, but now it was completely impossible to prospect in these market conditions, especially when it was your firm on the front of the Wall Street Journal everyday. I knew if I wasn't hitting enough commissions to hit my draw that not only would I not make it through the 8 year contract we had, but I would end up owing ML more money than my promissory note to begin with. I began looking elsewhere. And just like that in a couple weeks, I went through the Fidelity interview process. They were opening a brand new branch on the westside of the state and had the AE position on The AE position wanted 10 years in the industry, I had nearly 5, but that didn't stop me from applying. On the first interview they let me know that I wasn't qualified to have the most senior position in the branch but they offered me to interview for another position in the branch. The second interview was a group interview of about 30 people. The third interview was a two on one. I ended up getting the job, they let me know that there was over a 1,000 resumes submitted for this. Everyone hired above me would come from internal at Fidelity. The AE would be from Seattle with the firm for 11 years, the 3 fpc's would be from Novi, Birmingham, and Texas. The job I have now is the Investment Representative, which works with the mass market, it is the stepping stone to the FPC. I had to take a step back bring my career two step forwards in the long term... let's hope this works out.

Warren Buffet's Moves (Motley Fool)

You think you've had a bad year? Poor Warren Buffett has seen more than $25 billion evaporate from his net worth in the past year, as Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) followed the market's nosedive.
Adding insult to injury, he's been criticized for the awful performance of investments in Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) and General Electric (NYSE: GE). In addition to preferred shares that pay 10% dividends, he got warrants for common shares at prices that quickly fell off a cliff.
In response to the market panic, Buffett penned an op-ed in The New York Times last fall, saying he was buying U.S. stocks for his personal portfolio. Shortly afterward, stocks continued to disintegrate, and the economy has virtually imploded.
This has caused some to wonder: Has the Oracle of Omaha lost his touch?
You cannot be serious Simon Maierhofer thinks so. In fact, he took issue with Buffett's claim that stocks will outperform cash in the coming years:
How did [Buffett's] "cash is trash" philosophy fare over the past 10 years? $10,000 invested in the S&P 500 exactly 10 years ago would be worth $7,500 today. The safest cash equivalent, [Treasury bills] ... would have returned about 30%, putting you at $13,000. We don't encourage investing by looking in the rear view mirror but a look at the numbers shows that the only bull market right now is in cash.
Let's set aside for a moment the question of inflation, which ensures that the $10,000 of 10 years ago is not, in fact, the equivalent of $10,000 today. What does the market's performance over the past 10 years suggest for the future?
Up, up, and away Any 10-year retrospective has to contend with the fact that 1998 was smack in the middle of the dot-com boom, when tech companies such as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), and even old stalwarts like Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and AT&T (NYSE: T), traded like infinite growth was written in stone. Since then, we've seen not one, but two bubbles burst. The fact that trailing 10-year returns are pretty bad is hardly enlightening.
But if we look at 10-year returns for the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the past 100 years, a pattern emerges:
10-Year Period
Dow Jones Industrial Average Return
After booms come busts, after busts come booms. That's how markets work. If we had chosen a different frame (i.e., ending in 2006, instead of 2008), the numbers would likely be different, but the overall pattern would be the same. Markets go up, markets go down. Typically right after one another.
This isn't a short-term, cherry-picked set of data, after all. It's 100 years of market returns, during which time the nation overcame two World Wars, four smaller wars, a flu epidemic, the Great Depression, civil uprisings, multiple recessions, oil shocks, and terrorist attacks -- not to mention sideburns, Chia Pets, Carrot Top, and boy bands.
Anything can happen in the short term -- and the short term right now is chaotic and volatile like never before. Yet over the long term -- going back an entire century -- the trend of the stock market is pretty clear.
It's time to be brave Yes, stocks are scary right now. Yes, there will be boom times and bust times -- and the busts are no fun, even when we're resigned to their presence. But if you want your money to earn you adequate post-inflation returns over the long haul, cash isn't going to get you there. Never has. Never will.
Not only that, but as fear, panic, and forced liquidation rules the market, companies with a history of proven long-term returns now trade near their lowest levels in years. Anyone who thinks holding cash or buying Treasuries at historic highs in lieu of stocks at historic lows is making a mistake they'll almost certainly regret down the road.
None of this is to say we've reached a market bottom. Historical earnings multiples, for example, suggest that more pain could be in store for investors. Some periods of market lethargy have indeed lasted for longer than 10 years, too.
Nonetheless, the trend is as true today as it's been for the past century: We're at a point where bargain-hunting investors can be as assured as they've been in decades that stocks will perform well in the long term.

How we got into this mess (NY TIMES)

There are two basic truths about the enormous deficits that the federal government will run in the coming years.
The first is that President Obama’s agenda, ambitious as it may be, is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits, despite what many of his Republican critics are saying. The second is that Mr. Obama does not have a realistic plan for eliminating the deficit, despite what his advisers have suggested.
The New York Times analyzed Congressional Budget Office reports going back almost a decade, with the aim of understanding how the federal government came to be far deeper in debt than it has been since the years just after World War II. This debt will constrain the country’s choices for years and could end up doing serious economic damage if foreign lenders become unwilling to finance it.
Mr. Obama — responding to recent signs of skittishness among those lenders — met with 40 members of Congress at the White House on Tuesday and called for the re-enactment of pay-as-you-go rules, requiring Congress to pay for any new programs it passes.
The story of today’s deficits starts in January 2001, as President Bill Clinton was leaving office. The Congressional Budget Office estimated then that the government would run an average annual surplus of more than $800 billion a year from 2009 to 2012. Today, the government is expected to run a $1.2 trillion annual deficit in those years.
You can think of that roughly $2 trillion swing as coming from four broad categories: the business cycle, President George W. Bush’s policies, policies from the Bush years that are scheduled to expire but that Mr. Obama has chosen to extend, and new policies proposed by Mr. Obama.
The first category — the business cycle — accounts for 37 percent of the $2 trillion swing. It’s a reflection of the fact that both the 2001 recession and the current one reduced tax revenue, required more spending on safety-net programs and changed economists’ assumptions about how much in taxes the government would collect in future years.
About 33 percent of the swing stems from new legislation signed by Mr. Bush. That legislation, like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, not only continue to cost the government but have also increased interest payments on the national debt.
Mr. Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies — together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama — account for 20 percent of the swing.
About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February. And only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas.
If the analysis is extended further into the future, well beyond 2012, the Obama agenda accounts for only a slightly higher share of the projected deficits.
How can that be? Some of his proposals, like a plan to put a price on carbon emissions, don’t cost the government any money. Others would be partly offset by proposed tax increases on the affluent and spending cuts. Congressional and White House aides agree that no large new programs, like an expansion of health insurance, are likely to pass unless they are paid for.
Alan Auerbach, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and an author of a widely cited study on the dangers of the current deficits, describes the situation like so: “Bush behaved incredibly irresponsibly for eight years. On the one hand, it might seem unfair for people to blame Obama for not fixing it. On the other hand, he’s not fixing it.”
“And,” he added, “not fixing it is, in a sense, making it worse.”
When challenged about the deficit, Mr. Obama and his advisers generally start talking about health care. “There is no way you can put the nation on a sound fiscal course without wringing inefficiencies out of health care,” Peter Orszag, the White House budget director, told me.
Outside economists agree. The Medicare budget really is the linchpin of deficit reduction. But there are two problems with leaving the discussion there.
First, even if a health overhaul does pass, it may not include the tough measures needed to bring down spending. Ultimately, the only way to do so is to take money from doctors, drug makers and insurers, and it isn’t clear whether Mr. Obama and Congress have the stomach for that fight. So far, they have focused on ideas like preventive care that would do little to cut costs.
Second, even serious health care reform won’t be enough. Obama advisers acknowledge as much. They say that changes to the system would probably have a big effect on health spending starting in five or 10 years. The national debt, however, will grow dangerously large much sooner.
Mr. Orszag says the president is committed to a deficit equal to no more than 3 percent of gross domestic product within five to 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office projects a deficit of at least 4 percent for most of the next decade. Even that may turn out to be optimistic, since the government usually ends up spending more than it says it will. So Mr. Obama isn’t on course to meet his target.
But Congressional Republicans aren’t, either. Judd Gregg recently held up a chart on the Senate floor showing that Mr. Obama would increase the deficit — but failed to mention that much of the increase stemmed from extending Bush policies. In fact, unlike Mr. Obama, Republicans favor extending all the Bush tax cuts, which will send the deficit higher.
Republican leaders in the House, meanwhile, announced a plan last week to cut spending by $75 billion a year. But they made specific suggestions adding up to meager $5 billion. The remaining $70 billion was left vague. “The G.O.P. is not serious about cutting down spending,” the conservative Cato Institute concluded.
What, then, will happen?
“Things will get worse gradually,” Mr. Auerbach predicts, “unless they get worse quickly.” Either a solution will be put off, or foreign lenders, spooked by the rising debt, will send interest rates higher and create a crisis.
The solution, though, is no mystery. It will involve some combination of tax increases and spending cuts. And it won’t be limited to pay-as-you-go rules, tax increases on somebody else, or a crackdown on waste, fraud and abuse. Your taxes will probably go up, and some government programs you favor will become less generous.
That is the legacy of our trillion-dollar deficits. Erasing them will be one of the great political issues of the coming decade.