Category Archives: Resources

Do You Have a Plan for Your Life?

3 minutes to read

You can either live the life you want or the life that others choose for you. Most people don’t actively pick one of the other. When we’re children we do what our parents tell us to do or rebel against them. Both mean someone else is deciding on our life path. Once out of high school we tend to follow the customs of being in college, the military, or entering the work force. Some conventions are fine, even laudatory. But often, only as we approach mid to later life, do we realize how much of our lives aren’t what we wanted them to be.

The good news is it’s never too late to start living the life you want.

You Can’t Arrive at an Unknown Destination

The biggest hurdle to living an intentional life is knowing what you really want. Unlike two or three generations ago, most of us have a bewildering number of choices. Deciding among such a vast array can be challenging. As well, you may unwittingly limit yourself by being very clear about one area of your life, say professional success, to the neglect of the other domains of your life.

Frequently I see veterans struggling with this issue. Life in the service is clear-cut. Career paths are set. Deployments occur fairly regularly and everything else takes a back seat to the needs of the military. But when they re-enter civilian life all the constraints are gone. They drift. Unhappiness sets in. They don’t know why.

The solution: Create a life plan that identifies where you want to go in life and how to get there.

Plan Your Life

As a long time follower of Michael Hyatt’s work, I am honored to be on the launch team for his new book. Written with Daniel Harkavy, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want lays out a compelling case for writing a life plan. Short and to the point, it can be read in one sitting.

Like Michael's first book, Platform, the prose is well crafted to get you to take action. It guides you step-by-step through a simple process designed to get you in touch with the deepest desires in your life and then commit them to paper. Then it lays out a simple plan for integrating your blueprint into your life and making it a reality.

If you’re brand new to life planning Living Forward gives a solid strategy for taking control of your life’s direction. While I didn’t check them out, the online resources undoubtedly make the process even easier. If you are a veteran life planner like me, it has several ideas well worth adopting.

The book has two shortcomings:

  1. Both Michael and Daniel are established professionals who have significant financial resources at their command. The balance they advocate is much more easily attained at their stage in life then it is for someone struggling financially. The book would have been enhanced by some advice as to how to deal with competing interests beyond being intentional about the decisions you make. How did they attain the kind of professional success they have while maintaining solid marriages and relationships with their children? What life planning issues should their readers be aware of to avoid potential problems?
  2. Once your plan is written, Michael and Daniel advise reading it every day for the first 90 days and then at least weekly thereafter. Undoubtedly this effectively integrates it into your life. Better would be going through an extraction process whereby your life plan is distilled to a personal mission statement. Clarity comes not just from writing a plan, but from understanding it well enough that you can express it in a short, simple statement.

Notwithstanding these omissions, Living Forward stands as the book on life planning. If you are ready to stop drifting, join the revolution Michael and Daniel advocate and use this valuable resource to help chart the course of your life.

Do you have a life plan? Please comment below.

How to Make a Powerful First Impression

3 minutes to read

First impressions. Everyone forms them and is subject to them. No relationship begins without a first impression. In some cases, you can overcome a situation that starts off on the wrong foot. If you’ve recovered from such an experience, you know how difficult it is getting back on track. In most cases the old adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” rules.

How to Make a Powerful First Impression

The Dominance of a First Impression

Harvard Psychologist Nalini Ambady and her colleague Robert Rosenthal examined the power of first impressions. In the 1990s, they did a series of experiments comparing the ratings given to college professors by students at the end of the semester with ratings that another group of students gave the same professors based only on three ten-second silent video clips shown prior to any actual lectures.

Ambady and Rosenthal found both groups essentially agreed on how good or bad the professors were. As far as their performance ratings were concerned, the first impression from ten seconds of silent video counted for almost as much as a whole semester’s worth of interaction.

Think about that in the context of an HR person reviewing 100 or more applications for a job. While you may get more than 10 seconds, in this first screening he’s looking for any reason to weed you out.

Controlling How People Perceive You

As a chaplain, I faced this issue every day. At stake was whether people would come to me when they needed help. Fortunately, the two decades I spent in business prepared me to quickly establish rapport with people.

These days, with so much of business happening online, someone’s first impression of you is likely to be based on something you write. Especially if you’re looking for a job, your resume and a cover letter is a company’s introduction to you. That being the case, you’re being assessed on your writing skills. It’s a good idea to know what to do. Here are some guidelines:

  1. Customize everything – You’re communicating with individuals. Even if they don’t treat you that way, get in the habit of customizing cover letters, resumes, and everything else.
  2. Spelling counts – While it’s true that some people don’t care about spelling, how will you know if that’s the case with the person you’re writing to? You cannot rely on spell checkers since they don’t detect the wrong word. Stick with the standard spelling of words unless you prize creative spelling over your finances.
  3. Grammar counts too. Do you know the difference between the homonyms there, their, and they’re? I can’t tell you what percentage of HR people do but I bet it’s high. Yet countless times I receive correspondence using the wrong one. There are numerous grammar traps to trip you up. Check out the Grammarly Blog. You’ll get great information in an easy to understand and fun format.
  4. Double and triple check before sending – Proofread everything, whether it’s a casual email or a formal letter. While Microsoft Word purports to check syntax, it is not infallible. Have someone else read what you write, especially if it’s important.

Your high school English teacher was right. Your ability to clearly express your thoughts in writing is a crucial skill. Your access to the marketplace where you plan to turn all your other skills into a high-income career rests on the first impression you give, in writing.

What resources do you use to improve your writing skill? Please comment below.

10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2016

3-1/2 minutes to read

Every year I read at least 50 books. With so many goods ones, even at one per week it seems to make hardly a dent. My reading focuses on personal development, history & biography, business, and literature (my guilty pleasures are detective and historical fiction).

10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2016

While I generally keep abreast of current works, I also look back to see what older books and classics I have missed. Here are the best, why not get yourself one for a Chanukah or Christmas gift?

Personal Development

Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin

If you have ever thought you couldn’t do something because you lacked the talent, Colvin will convince you that ability has nothing to do with inborn skill. Not persuaded? I challenge you to read this book and keep your belief.

How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits by Judy Robinette

Everything you want in life is owned or controlled by someone else so it makes sense to spend time learning how to create relationships for your personal and business life. My blog post reviews this remarkable book more fully.

The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams

THE CLASSIC BOOK ON LIFELONG LEARNING AND DEALING WITH CHANGE. For over a century this great grandson and son of U.S. presidents has illuminated the path to personal growth. Though of another age, Adams’s wit and eloquence remain compelling to this day.

Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We've Overlooked by Paul Raeburn

For any or man or woman who wants to excel at raising children, Paul Raeburn explains why fathers are essential to the proper development of sons and daughters. Ignore his sidetrack into politics but carefully follow his explanation of the scientific evidence.

History and Biography

The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb

You may have heard of Roger Bannister but his being the first to break the four-minute mile was by no means a sure bet. Fierce competition required new ways to train and frame success. The book is about running. The lessons apply to all realms of your life.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Relationships are the building blocks of life. Creating teams multiply the impact of relationships. No sport builds teams more effectively than rowing. From the depths of despair to Olympic Gold, Brown’s telling of Coach Ulbrickson’s triumph will stir your creativity and desire to win.

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E.B. Sledge

Another classic. Sledge’s memoir delves deeply into the impact of war on those who fight it. To understand combat you either have to live or read this book.

Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage by Jeffrey Frank

On what could one of the greatest men of the 20th century and one of the most ignoble possibly base a relationship? The answer will surprise you and give you insight into how to build a relationship when you have little in common with the other person.

Business and Entrepreneurship

Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick by Alexandra Watkins

You can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to brand your business or follow Watkins’s step by step formula. The book costs less than $20. Need I say more?

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spenser Johnson, M.D.

I don’t know how I overlooked this gem for almost 20 years. You’ll be amused while being motivated to handle change.

What books did you read this year that you recommend? Comment below.

The Blogs I Love

Sometimes I feel like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof. If I were rich I’d have the time that I like to pray and study. There are so many wonderfully incisive and thought-provoking bloggers and writers. I could spend all day reading, thinking, and responding to their writing. Here are six I highly recommend:

The Blogs I Love

Brett and Kate McKay’s The Art of Manliness – Much to the detriment of society, many males do not know what it means to be a man. The McKays combine history, wit, common sense, and candor to reintroduce men and women to the virtues of manliness. And their website design is superb.

Lori Cofsky Tessel’s The Solution Room – If you are living in your second half-century or wonder what life will be like then, my friend Lori’s blog is the right destination for you. Insightful and spiritual, you will find no better guide to the mysterious journey of life after 50.

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Donald Miller’s Storyline – New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller (his current book, Scary Close, is #2 on Amazon in Christian marriage) has brought together a delightful collection of writers well-versed in the emotional and spiritual sides of life. Need food for introspection or ideas for building relationships? Read Storyline.

Leo Babauta’s zenhabits – If you want calm and a solid dose of essentialism, you will not find a better source than zenhabits. I find a lot of merit in the minimalist movement propounded by Leo Babauta and others like Courtney Carver’s be more with less. Accumulation for its own sake is hollow. Leo, Courtney, and their fellow minimalists make a strong case for filling life with meaning rather than stuff.

Farnoosh Brock’s Prolific Living – If I had a female alter ego I think she might be Farnoosh. (I know her only through her writing so she may disagree with my assessment!) While I don’t recall her using the term, she knows what it means to be an Intentionalist.

These are among the crown jewels. If you don’t have time to read them on a regular basis, follow me on Twitter where I curate them and over 80 others blogs and online publications.

Truer words have ne’er been spoken. All the folks above have devoted their lives to helping you do so. I salute them and thank them.

What are your favorite blogs? 

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below↓

You Made 2014 Fantastic. Thank You!

Gratitude is crucial to being an Intentionalist. So I am starting the new year by saying thank you for visiting my blog, reading and commenting on my posts, and most especially for subscribing to my newsletter during 2014. I am honored you want to be a part of this community.

Thank you for a fantastic 2014!Perhaps you are interested to know a little more about it. You are part of a group from over 70 countries. Since I write in English you know this language, but you speak over 20 others! Our group is about 40% female and 60% male, fairly evenly spread among age cohorts.

During last year, newsletter subscribers increased 90%. Of the two social media platforms through which we usually interact, Facebook fans surged 2700% and Twitter followers rose 1600%.

While I did not meet all my goals for 2014, I feel blessed by this progress.

For the coming year I remain committed to giving you the best ideas and resources for guiding your life to the goals you have set for yourself and your family. If you follow my work through one channel please consider these other ways I can serve you:

  • Newsletter: As a subscriber you are the first to know when a new article posts. Generally new material hits social media outlets six to 30 hours later. Also, some material is only available to subscribers. You can signup at: http://eepurl.com/tfZJ9
  • Twitter: In addition to my blog posts, you will find links to material I have curated across dozens of sources including blogs, online periodicals, and other social media platforms. I tweet once an hour, around the clock so you will not be overwhelmed by material. You can follow me at: https://twitter.com/KevinBemel
  • Facebook: With the exception of my blog posts, the material I post on Facebook is not on my other social media outlets. Aside from comments on my blog, Facebook affords the best opportunity for us to exchange ideas. I post once or twice a day and work to respond to comments more frequently than that. You can LIKE my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/NavyRabbi

Will you help me?

Perhaps you will do me these two favors:

  • Let me know about an issue that concerns you. Whether it is a question about personal development, starting a business, or a passage from the Old Testament, you can help make my blog posts more relevant to the concerns of our group. Please comment below or use the contact form at the end of this post.
  • Would you pass one of my blog posts on to a friend or family member who wants to develop his or her life? Suggest subscribing to my newsletter. Working together we can enlarge our community.

As you strive to become an ever better Intentionalist, I dedicate myself to supporting your progress. Together we can make 2015 the year of greatest personal growth.

Thanks again for a wonderful 2014!

How did 2014 turn out for you? Please comment below.

 

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© 2015, Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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