Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #30-Accepting the World As Your Playground

I’m sooooo excited right now.  In just a few hours, my friend and I leave for Italy for a week in Rome!  Though planned a couple months ago, our motivator was nothing more than, “Why not?!?”  I have a rule about doing “repeat trips”.  Basically, since there’s so much to see, I never do the same place twice.  Of course, I have broken this rule for Italy after falling in love with it last year.  And so it is, we’ll be ringing in 2014 at a festival near the Colosseum!  Did I mention how excited I am!!!!!

I usually treat myself to one big trip a year….a way to totally disconnect from work, life in general, and to just really have some “me time” and reflect!  It really rejuvenates me, whether it’s running off to Europe or basking in the glow of the Caribbean, the reflection time does a Farah good! Unfortunately, I didn’t make plans for 2013 and just kind of accepted that I’d have to just be better in 2014 and plan ahead.  Then….Scene…In walks, Noelia…

IMG_2932”Soooo, I found this deal…what do you think of New Year’s in Italy?”

And here we are!  Why not!

There really is so much of the world to see, to experience, and new memories to create with those we hold dear.  What I’ve learned is while spontaneity definitely has it’s place, there really is value to planning ahead for your traveling adventures.  If you ever watch kids in their playgrounds, they sometimes just bounce back and forth between swing sets, the slides, and the monkey bars.  But when they’re creating worlds and experiences as only they can with their imaginations, they’re always planning with a story and some even tell the other kids what part they’re to play (I know that wasn’t just me!).

So, this week, I challenge you to dare to dream.  Accept the world as your playground and plan ahead.  Where are you going this year!?!?!  Tell me, tell me, tell me!

Soundtrack of the week: Vice’s World Is Our Playground

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #29-Being Financially Fit

There is sooooooo much that I’ve been wanting to share with all of you just over these past couple weeks and I’m literally holding myself back from making this a double- or even a triple-header!  Can’t give it all away at once, but don’t you worry, I’ve got some really good stuff in store!

Interestingly enough, I’ve opted for what I think might be more of a subtle factor to share with you this week-being financially fit.  See, here’s the thing about being responsible with our finances:  We all know it’s a should, even a must!  There really isn’t a question about this.  In fact, I would almost bet that 100% of us want this.  I actually can’t imagine anyone not wanting to have their “house in order” as it relates to their finances.  Just a couple days ago, I had a chance to catch up with a fabulous new friend, Jan (check out her recently launched venture, Daily General Counsel), and she always imparts some serious wisdom when we get a chance to connect.  As we took in the deliciousness we had from Flour Bakery, she shared many things and one thing has really, really stuck with me since:

“I’m going to say to you exactly what I say to my daughter all the time, ‘At no point in your life should you ever, ever, ever feel stuck!  That’s just a no-no.  Everything is yours to create, so you’ve just got to do it.’”

We were talking about so much regarding the entrepreneurial realm and of course personal finances are part of this as you have to plan how you’re going to fund your aspirations.

Being financially fit really means a whole lot, and for many people, it means different things.  See for some, it means being able to not have to rely on credit cards.  For others, it means not having to live paycheck to paycheck.  And still others, it means being a lender, not a borrower; being the head and not the tail, being able to tithe.  One of my friends recently found herself in a really tough spot having lost her job, used up all her savings to get by over the past year, and is so frustrated, yet all she could focus on was “Farah, I have not been able to pay my tithes!  I don’t play with my tithes and I have not been able to tithe!”  Now, let’s just be honest.  Some of us, I would dare to submit, many of us, would harp on not being able to shop, not being able to go out to dinner, and I’ll even admit, not being able to do my spa days (I said I was being honestJ).  And tithing was my friend’s priority.  She was “stuck”.

So now, when I think of Jan’s advice and what it really means to be financially fit, some basic practices and principles apply:

1-Budget:  To me this is the easiest part.  As an excel junkie, I just feel like you put in the formulas and items into a spreadsheet and there you have it, a budget!  Yet, I can’t tell you how many of my friends, even just over the last couple months have admitted to not having a budget. You know I nipped that in the bud!  Here’s the easiest thing to do TODAY: Open a spreadsheet, input Income, Expenses, Residual amounts.  Slate this information up for at least one month.  Then, when it’s time for you to update it next month, go ahead and budget for two months until you get yourself up to at least a quarterly budget.  TIP: Include your disposable income/”Play” money and savings in your expenses rows.  Then, it just becomes behavior for you to account for this

2-Set Goals:  Again, pretty simple here but this is why we sometimes get tripped up.  For instance, I’ve wanted, and kind of needed, a new car for a while now, but again, being honest, I haven’t really set a savings plan for it and I don’t play with debt so I’m not just going to go out and get a new car (accepting donations of anything big and shiny though…with leather interior). So, I finally sat down a couple weeks ago and set a weekly “Car Fund” savings contribution plan. CapitalOne360 even let’s you  have your account send you regular updates on your progress as you get closer to your goals.  So whether it’s a new pair of jeans, a new car, a new place, set your goals.  It actually makes it a bit more fun too.

3-Commit to your goals:  This really requires nothing more than committing to your goals.  By simply committing to my own goals, I’ve turned down some serious deals at Banana Republic (up 70% off items today) Burberry (there is a pair of sunglasses I really want and the outlets had them on sale yesterday), and Amrita Singh (my FAVORITE jewelry designer).  See, here’s the different between having goals and committing to them:  Having the goal of getting a car, I could maintain that goal and still purchase this teal jacket, care of Banana Republic, because it’s on sale today (size 8, again, if you’re in a giving mood)

banana-republic-teal-teal-hacking-jacket-teal-product-1-12830340-637441619_large_flex

and reason that I will just make it up next go around when I add to my savings.  Committing to my goal though, I did pause and remind myself, I’ve got bigger and better things I am committing to right now and this jacket will not make my current car last any longer and won’t be as cute if I’m wearing it with a broken down car on the side of the road! HAH!

4-Ask for Accountability:  We all need our friends and though this post does not reflect it, I really do have a hard time asking for things…especially for help.  The bigger your goals, dreams and aspirations though, the more you need those around you who are going to hold you accountable.  So, just earlier this week I had to admit to a little financial boo boo to a friend who I knew would give me the business and set me straight and then love up on me with some good advice…and expectations!  Now, and she knows this, I can’t stand to hear her voice with the “I told you so” and “Don’t play” and “What are you doing” tone.  BUT, I do appreciate that she will never let me deviate from my goals because according to her, “You know American Express does not play, get it together! No cash, no purchase.” Ugh! Reminding myself: I am grateful for my friends…I am grateful for my friends…I am grateful for my friends…no matter how loud and annoying they may sometimes be!

5-Share: Best practices are truly more powerful as they are shared.  After giving me this mini-lecture, my friend sent me one of her commitments for this year and it really is pretty simple:

52-Week-Money-Challenge

Check out Frecklberry for details but it’s more around the practice of saving than anything else.

Now the above is not an end all and be all to being financially fit, but it’s a pretty fabulous start…says the author of the list herself…no bias, right?  At the end of the day, this leads to more personal power.  Not engaging in long-term relationships with credit cards and balancing your spending with your savings positions, you to create more, to do more, and to help others to the same.  So let’s all heed Jan’s advice and commit to never, never, never feeling stuck and instead, being financially fit!

Soundtrack of the week:  My conversation with Jan reminded me that we all need to walk in authority and when we realize we actually can, it happens to be the beginning of the best days of our lives.

Donnie McClurkin: Walking in Authority

American Authors: Best Day of My Life

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #28-Being Kind

“Be kind to everyone.  For we are all fighting a great battle.  We really only get to see two percent of each other.  Our true full selves (and what we are going through) are so beneath the surface.”  -Tom Peter

This week’s factor to living fabulously fierce sounds so simple and yet, in our day-to-day, we sometime actually have to search for acts of kindness to witness. From simple things of holding the door for someone to buying a cup of coffee for someone behind you at Starbucks to the huge acts of kindness we hear about that make the news, I feel like if we all took just a little of bit of time to just be kind to even just one person, we’d be amazed at the ripple effect and our impact.

When I heard Tom Peters speak the words above at a Bentley Leadership Conference a few years back, what really hit me the most was that we are all fighting a great battle. Now it’s all relative right?  What I’m going through may not seem great to someone else but it’s my battle and it’s pretty heavy to me.  Friends come to me all the time with things that they’re worried about and stressed about and they know me, so they know that my first reaction might be, “really, that’s what you’re worried about?” And we actually laugh because I just always try to put things into perspective but here’s the reality, the thing they’re worried about is great for them and while sometimes being annoyingly optimistic or positive, my real job as their friend is simply to be kind.

So of course we need to boil this down to figure out what it really means.  I think there are three “big” buckets of kindness that we can consider:

  1. The kindness act of just being there:  Sometimes those closest to us really want nothing more than for us to just be there.  Our very presence is just enough kindness to help them get trough whatever is challenging them.  Just last year, a coworker came into my office and just sat down while I was really deep into a project.  I looked up and she just looked at me.  I said, “um, are you ok?” She said “oh yeah, don’t mind me, (really, I thought) I just got a call from home and I can’t deal so I just needed to get out of my office to a peaceful place with a peaceful person and yours is the only office I know of and you’re the nicest person I know here, so seriously pretend I’m not even here.”  Now you know good and well I couldn’t pretend she wasn’t there…so we ended up chatting for a good thirty minutes.  I still have no idea what the issue she was dealing with was…I didn’t need to.  I gave her what she needed…I felt like she walked out a little lighter on her feet than she was when she came in.  That was just the kindness she needed.  Cost me nothing but a little bit of time.
  2. The kindness act of making an offering:  During this time of the year, the holiday season, we are put on notice of all the charities we can give to for the holidays, the families we can adopt and the like.  This is all fabulous…Cradles to Crayons and Toys for Tots happen to be personal favorites for me.  The thing to keep in mind is that while we focus on these types of offerings once a year, we can make offerings all year round.  As I was thinking about what I was going to post this week, I had to also reflect on whether or not I’m really practicing what I’m preaching.  I try to do so, but I can always be better.  So I happened to be at Starbucks (yes, I’m officially an addict) and when I put my order in, I turned to the woman behind me and said “and what might you let me treat you to today?”  She looked at me STUNNED and said “are you sure?”  I told her, “More than you know, I don’t get fancy here so I just have a simple coffee but it’s breakfast time, what are you craving?”  She just beamed from ear to ear and said thank you.  Then….ready…wait for it…she looked at the card in her hand and said, I have this gift card with a bit on it, something tells me you won’t take it, so…”  She then turned around and gave it to a younger women, she looked to be college-aged, behind her.  RIPPPLE WHAT?!?!?!  It’s December….but, that’s not the criteria for doing something like this.  I plan to stun someone more regularly…..we’ll see what happens in January!
  3. The kindness act of sharing your own story:  I’ve learned that sometimes, folks look at me and think that I’ve got everything together…which is sooooooooooo hilarious to me.  Just last year, my sister was really going through some tough stuff and we talked about it.  As I tried to talk her….ok, I admit, I was coaching her…through it, she looked at me and said, “Yeah, but Farah you have it all together.”  All I could say to her, was “who in the world told you that.”  I realized she needed me to open my book a little more for her to understand that we all go through stuff and it really doesn’t matter.  What’s most important is that we actually go through….don’t just stall and sit in what you’re going through….just keep going….and that’s how you keep it all together.  Sometimes, the act of just letting someone know that they’re not alone in their life experience or the only one going through something is just the level of kindness they need to get back in the game

So, as you think about all of this, I really encourage you think about something you can do this week to exhibit some kindness to some unsuspecting vessel.  Add to the ripple! I promise, it doesn’t take much and what you get in return is a sense of being pretty fierce…because we are!

Soundtrack of the week: Being Kind.  Looks like someone had a fabulous idea to get the kindness ripple going a while back.  Game for kicking it back up with me?  Let me know what your act of kindness this week will be.