Eight Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A Carpet Cleaner

Mistake #1: Choosing a carpet cleaner based on equipment alone. No question, your carpet cleaning company needs first rate equipment, but he also needs something else. He needs employees who are skilled at operating the equipment correctly. Many companies own hot water steam extractors, but very few companies teach their employees how to use them properly. The best way to know that the carpet cleaning company employees have been properly trained is to make sure the cleaner has been certified by the institute of inspection, cleaning and restoration certification (IICRC). Before you choose a carpet cleaner, ask to see written proof of the company’s and the technicians IICRC certification.

Mistake#2: Choosing a carpet cleaning company based on low price. Low prices could be a problem in three ways: (1) low price can be the bait that attracts your phone call, but once the cleaner gets into your home, he pressures you into a much more expensive job. (2) low price can be for single process cleaning. Rarely does the consumer know what this means and is tricked into using a dual process cleaning that cost much more. (3) low price means the carpet cleaner has cheap equipment, which will not effectively clean your carpet.

Mistake #3: Choosing a carpet cleaner based on a single telephone call. Instead, invite the person to your home and ask for a specific written quotation. Then you will know exactly what the carpet cleaner recommends and you won’t be the victim of a high pressure sales tactic when the technician steps into your home.

Mistake #4: Choosing a carpet cleaning company who doesn’t offer a money back guarantee. In my view, every carpet cleaning company should be fully accountable for its work, and if you are not pleased with the job you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Period. Not all carpet cleaners offer a guarantee. If they do it may be limited. Ask the carpet cleaner if he offers a money back guarantee and then make sure the carpet cleaner includes his guarantee on this written quotation.

Mistake #5: Choosing a carpet cleaning company without getting comments from his other clients. Anybody can say anything about his past jobs. Sadly, some of what he says may not be true. Make sure you ask for references or read comments from current customers so you can depend on the cleaning company and their work.

Mistake #6: Choosing a cleaning company who isn’t certified by the institute of inspection, cleaning and restoration certification (IICRC). If your cleaning technician isn’t a close friend, you may not know whether he has the knowledge or experience to clean your carpet well. If you want to be sure your hiring a competent professional make sure he is certified. The cleaning technician must earn that certification through study, experience and successful completion of formal written examinations. In effect, cleaners who are certified by the IICRC hae earned a college degree in carpet cleaning.

Mistake #7: Choosing a professional cleaner who isn’t a member of a professional trade association. Professional trade associations hold hight standards that must be meet and are dedicated to honest and ethical business practices. They stay current on the latest methods for carpet and upholstery care, cleaning and restoration. They also hold the highest standards of customer service. You are making a wise decision when you have your carpets cleaned by a member of a professional trade association.

Mistake #8: Choosing a carpet cleaning company who doesn’t use a truck mounted steam cleaning extraction system. Portable machines are ok, but not as good as truck mounted systems. Truck mounted system are the rolls royce of carpet cleaning systems. Truck mounted steam cleaning systems are recommended by shaw industries and mohawk carpet manufactures to maintain their carpet warranties. Shaw industries is the worlds largest carpet manufacture and recommends this method to maintain their product warranties. This system of cleaning extracts dirt and bacteria from your carpet fibers unlike other methods.

It is important as a consumer to understand the difference between value and price. Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. When you select a cleaning professional you’ll choose from a wide variety of cleaning methods and prices. Remember be confident that you are working with a professional company before letting them into your home.

Tips For Installing Custom Fish Tanks

Many home owners are looking to have custom fish tanks installed in their homes as the main focal point of a living room. There is somewhat of a “mystic beauty” watching fish glide around a tank in the calm of the evening after a long day working.

Fish are very relaxing and having a specialized company come in and provide everything you need for your aquarium could not be easier. More expensive than the DIY process, custom fish tanks are certainly worth the extra money, if only for the fact you will have a hands free setup process.

Much is involved in set up; deciding on the size of tank will be relevant to the room and space it is to be installed in. You will need to pick an area away from direct sunlight as an abundance of sunlight will cause the tank to develop too much algae. Both plants and your fish will benefit from as much natural light as you can provide as long as it is not to direct. Your tank should also have lights, which may be used during the day if natural light is not available.

Tanks are available in a variety of heights and sizes; again this will be determined somewhat by the room it will be placed in. The larger depth a fish has to swim the happier they are, depth will also give you more options to personalize the tank with plants and rocks.

Aquariums are heavy, placement cannot be over emphasized. If you are considering a custom fish tank for an upstairs bedroom you must remember that the floor must be able to support a large tank, smaller tanks will be fine. You will need to know what weight your upper floor can support before looking at this option. Large tanks downstairs should be installed over a concrete floor for safety.

Saltwater and freshwater costs vary greatly. Saltwater, in general will cost you more, just because there is just more involved in the set up, fish are generally more expensive. The upside is saltwater fish can also be more vibrant and colorful in display.

You could save money by buying artificial plants over fresh living plants, so being aware of this before you choose a company to set up your tank is important. Choose a provider that will come to your home and advise on set up, like any work you pay for, get several quotes before you pick someone to do the job.

Custom fish tanks are a great way to personalize your home and give a great view for your family and friends to enjoy for many years.

Pushing Through the Pain During a Workout

As I prepare for my third round of 90 days, I’m trying the Insanity workouts so that I know where to put them in my upcoming hybrid workout schedule. For those of you who have never tried Insanity, I assure you that it is accurately named! I love it at the end of Pure Cardio when Shaun T says, “That s%*t is bananas!”

Doing Insanity has reminded me just how important it is to push through the pain and discomfort that comes with working out hard. If you want to maximize your results you have to learn to push through! In the weight room, if you get to the last two or three reps of a set and you aren’t struggling then you’re not doing something right. During a cardio workout, if you aren’t sweating like crazy and gasping for air like a fish out of water then you probably aren’t going hard enough. The point of these types of routines is to fatigue your body as much as you can. Then when it recovers it will come back stronger than before. The harder you work and more fatigued you get (to a certain point) the stronger your body become. It’s cause and effect. But how do you know when it’s OK to keep going and when you need to stop?

Here’s when you should keep going. When your muscles are burning like they’re on fire but you can maintain form then you should keep going. When you’re so fatigued your brain tells you to stop but you’re still holding the form then you should keep going. When you’re struggling for air but not light headed or ready to puke then you should keep going.

If the pain and discomfort comes in the form of sharp pain then you should STOP. If you are seeing stars, light headed, or about to blow chunks then you should STOP. If something in your body feels like it’s about to give out or tear then you should STOP. If you can’t maintain form then you should STOP. Learn to tell the difference between your brain and body wanting to stop and needing to stop.

A few years ago, I participated in the hardest   mountain  bike race in the United States. It’s called the Leadville Trail 100 and it is nuts! One day on a  mountain  bike, 104 miles, 14,000 feet of climbing and this all takes place between 9200 and 12,600 feet of elevation. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to quit. However, I kept thinking about a quote that race director Ken Chlouber told us the day before the race. “You’re better than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can.” Have that mindset going into your workouts, and you’ll be amazed at what you can do and the results that come as a result.

How to Stop People from Grinding on You in Negotiations

Let me tell you how to conclude negotiations very effectively. You don’t have to use it when the other person is negotiating in good faith with you. You use it only when you feel that the other side is simply grinding away to get the last penny off your price. Or when you know that the other person wants to do business with you, but she’s thinking, “How much would I be making per hour, if I spent a little more time negotiating with this person?”

Let’s say that a group of friends got together and bought a cabin in the mountains to use for a vacation home. The friends got together on the investment and they’re sharing the use of it. One partner drops out of the syndication and your neighbor comes to you and tells you about the cabin in the mountains. Your initial reaction to this is, “This sounds fantastic. I’d love to do something like that.” However, you’re smart enough to play the Reluctant Buyer Gambit so you say, “I appreciate your telling me about that, but I just don’t think we’d be interested right now. I’m so busy I don’t think we’d have the time to get up there. But look, just to be fair to you, what is the very lowest price that you would sell a share in the home for?”

He’s been studying negotiating too, however, and he’s learned that you should never be the first one to name the price. So he says, “We have a committee that decides on the price and I don’t know what that price would be. I can take them a proposal, but I don’t know what the reaction would be.”

When you press him a little more, he finally says, “I’m pretty sure that they’re going to be asking $10,000.”

This is a lot less than you expected. You were willing to go to $15,000. So your initial reaction is to jump at it right away, but you’re smart enough to remember to flinch. You exclaim, “$10,000. Oh no, I could never go along with anything like that. That’s way too much. Tell you what, $8,000 might interest me. If they’re interested at $8,000, let me know and we’ll talk about it.”

The next day he comes back and has decided to bring you into line by using the Withdrawing the Offer Gambit. He says, “Am I embarrassed about this. I know that we were talking $10,000 yesterday, but the committee decided last night that they wouldn’t sell a share for less than $12,000.”

This is psychologically devastating to you for two reasons:

1. Because you feel that you created the problem-you say, “Boy, I wish I’d never run into that Roger Dawson and his Power Negotiating because if I hadn’t I would have nailed him down at $10,000 yesterday.”

2. You’ve made the mistake telling your family all about it They’re all excited about the home up in the mountains, and you’ve passed that critical point in the negotiations when you’re prepared to walk away.

You say, “Joe what are you talking about? You said $10,000 yesterday, $12,000 today, is it going to be $14,000 tomorrow? What’s going on here?”

He says, “I do feel bad, but that’s what the committee decided.”

You say, “Joe, come on.”

So he says, “Well I do feel bad about this. Tell you what, let me go back to them one more time, let me see what I can do for you with them. If I can get it for you for the $10,000, are you interested?”

And you say, “Of course I’m interested. I want it.” And he has sold you at full price and you may not have realized what he’s done to you until it’s too late.

Let me give you another example because it’s a very powerful negotiating Gambit. Let’s say that you sell widgets, and you quote the buyer a price of $1.80; the buyer offers you $1.60. You negotiate back and forth, and finally it looks as though he will agree to $1.72. What’s going through the buyer’s mind is, “I got him down from $1.80 to $1.72. I bet I can squeeze another penny out of him. I bet I can get this salesperson to $1.71.”

So he says, “Look, business is really tough right now, I just can’t do business with you on widgets unless you can bring the order in at $1.71.”

He may be only baiting you, just trying it to see if he can get you down. Don’t panic and feel you have to make the concession to stay in the game. The way to stop this grinding away process is to say, “I’m not sure if we can do that or not, but tell you what, if I can possibly get it for you I will. Let me go back, we’ll re-figure it and see if we can do it. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”

The next day you come back and pretend to withdraw the concession that you made the day before. You say, “I’m really embarrassed about this, but we’ve been up all night re-figuring the price of widgets. Somebody, somewhere down the line, has made a mistake. We had an increase in the cost of raw materials that the estimator didn’t figure in. I know we were talking $1.72 yesterday, but we can’t even sell it to you for that -$1.73 is the lowest price that we could possibly offer you on widgets.”

What’s the buyer’s reaction? He’s going to get angry and say, “Hey, wait a minute buddy. We were talking $1.72 yesterday, and $1.72 is what I want.” And immediately the buyer forgets $1.71. The Withdrawing an Offer Gambit works well to stop the buyer grinding away on you.

Haven’t we all had an appliance or car salesperson, when we were trying to force the price a little lower, say, “Let me go to my sales manager, and I’ll see what I can do for you with him.” Then he comes back and he says, “Am I embarrassed about this. You know that advertised special we were talking about? I thought that ad was still in effect, but it went off last Saturday. I can’t even sell it to you at the price we were talking about.”

Immediately you forget future concessions and want to jump at the price you’d been talking about.

You can also employ this Gambit by withdrawing a feature of the offer, rather than raising the price. Here are some examples:

o The appliance salesperson says to you, “I know we were talking about waiving the installation charge, but my sales manager is now telling me that at this price we just can’t.”

o The air-conditioner salesperson says to you, “I understand that we were talking about including the cost of building permits, but at a price this low, my estimators are telling me we’d be crazy to do that.”

o You’re a sub-contractor, and you say to your general contractor, “I know you requested 60-day terms, but at this price, we’d need payment in 30 days.”

o You market computers, and you tell your customer, “Yes, I told you that we would waive the charge for training your people, but my people are saying that at this price, we’d have to charge.”

Don’t do it with something big because that could really antagonize the other person.

The Withdrawing an Offer Gambit is a gamble, but it will force a decision and usually make or break the deal. Whenever the other person uses this on you, don’t be afraid to counter by insisting that the other side resolve its internal problem first, so that you can then resume the real negotiation.

Key points to remember:

o Withdrawing an Offer is a gamble, so use it only on someone who is grinding away on you.

o You can do it by backing off your last price concession or by withdrawing an offer to include freight, installation, training, or extended terms.

o To avoid direct confrontation, make the Bad Guy a vague higher authority. Continue to position yourself as on the other person’s side.

How To Hire An Air Ambulance Abroad

At some point, many people decide to travel abroad to vacation, see family members, or to conduct business. You’ll be busy making sure you have your passport docs ready and making sure every detail of your trip is planned, but there’s one thing you probably haven’t thought of. If there’s a medical emergency, you’re going to want to know how to hire an air ambulance.

You may be wondering why this something to concern yourself with in the first place. Depending on what country you visit, medical care may be nonexistent or simply difficult to reach from your location. Another reason people consider this option is because they feel more comfortable flying back home to be with their primary care physicians.

First, you’ll want to locate an air ambulance. Unlike hiring a company in your hometown, you have to pay close attention to the international flights offered. Sometimes, flights are only offered within the borders of one country and not another. At other times, the company may need to request special clearance before being granted access and this must be done in advance. You can visit the U.S. Department of State’s website for a partial list of air ambulance companies that fly internationally. Alternatively, you can search for these companies and just check out their site for information on flights abroad.

After choosing a company, the biggest issue you’re likely to face is medical insurance. You can’t count on your insurance covering medical evacuations when you’re away from home. In fact, if you’re forced to use a private air ambulance company this is something you can’t even assume when you’re at home. First, make sure you call your health insurance provider and ask if these services are covered. This is just a good thing to know. Next, ask if you’re insurance is valid overseas and in the country where you’ll be staying.

You can also look into getting medical travel insurance, which is like traditional travel insurance except it covers medical expenses rather than lost or stolen items. If this is an option you chose, you need to make sure you carry a copy of your policy documents or proof of coverage to show the air ambulance company. Many times they will not take your word for it at the time of an emergency, so this a responsibility you will have to assume.

Finally, you will need to check in with your local embassy. There are plenty of nightmare stories on the web about the quality of flight safety abroad. Your embassy will be able to tell you if the air ambulance company you’ve chosen has received an excessive number of complaints or reprimands.

Relocation With Children – Making the Common Move Fun!

We all know that moving with kids can be a tall order. Children are not adults, and even as adults, we sometimes cannot handle all of the change that is happening around us. There are so many things changing and being done that daily life seems quite far away. Stress levels rise and tempers get very short.

But a timeline still exists, so you need to find a way to make everything work out in a positive way. When kids are involved, the easiest way to do this is to make your move fun. All kids love fun, and making this point in time enjoyable can go a long way to reducing the stress that is put on every member of the family. Here are some simple tips to do this.

Make it a Vacation

One of the easiest ways to add fun to any move is to make it into a vacation. You can do this and save money on your move at the same time. Plan your relocation route and then choose to move by truck rental.

Using a rental truck to move your things will allow you the freedom that you need to stop and go when you want to. You will also be able to add some time into your schedule to visit attractions along your travel route. Make sure that you plan at least one major stop along the way. This can be the vacation spot. Consider getting a hotel and leaving the truck rental there while your family visits the attraction. Your things will be much safer this way than driving the moving truck rental to the parking lot of the attraction itself. Make sure that you have proper security on the rental truck so that no one can get into it while you are off having fun.

Make it Educational

Our country is both vast and all inclusive. There are many different things to see here including   mountains , plains, and coastlines. In order to make your trip fun, consider planning a driving route that will take you by various different landscapes and historical landmarks. Kids will soak these things in like sponges, so make sure that you point everything out to them.

If you are driving a truck rental and the kids are in a separate vehicle, consider buying or renting a radio system that will allow you to communicate between the truck rental and the car. This way, you can make unexpected stops when you see something that might be of interest. You can also change your driving routes without having to pull over or use a cell phone, which can be dangerous when driving an unfamiliar vehicle like large truck rentals.

Be Patient

Remember, every child is different. Not all children will find all things fun. Make sure to include them in the process when you are thinking about moving and creating a vacation schedule. If they are involved, they are more likely to accept the idea that you and your family are going to move no matter what.

Recipe For Life-The Woman-Life’s Lessons-Changes In The World

Recipe for Life

Pride can be sit aside, when you add too much pride it can overpower other very important ingredients.

Determination is something you can add with extra amounts.

Hope and faith are very essential.

It is a sad life that is hopeless and without faith.

You move   mountains  with hope and faith,

Believe in yourself .

Add truth and honesty for truth comes out evidentially and tastes better when coming from you.

With caution add ambition,

You need enough to be successful, but too much will control you.

You need to add generosity and sensitivity, but do so wisely, otherwise others will take advantage of you.

Keep your enemy closer than your friend.

Be forgiving because hate and anger hurt you more than others.

When you love someone don’t let the moment go without telling him or her ‘Seize the moment;

As Shakespeare said, It is far better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Losers are just those who quit.

Winners are not always better but they just never gave up,.

So never give up and finish whatever you start.

Sometime failure is good,

It makes success sweeter.

Never count on anything,

There are no guarantees in life except that of God.

A quote from my daughter.

Take my advice, I don’t use it anyway

The woman

To me being a woman is not to lose yourself, but to be yourself, Perhaps better yourself or improve yourself,

But know the inner woman and just be yourself,

To me that would be being the woman the situations of life calls for.

To have the judgment to know how to react, and not be judgmental or others.

To know there are consequences for one’s actions and to know there are priorities.

I believe I am truly unique and should be what I feel as long as it doesn’t hurt

A woman should be at a man’s side, not behind him or ahead of him, but equal to him.

The woman can be the heart of the home or the heartbreak the choice is hers to make.

I feel I have inner strength that may be stronger than a man’s inner strength.

The world is changing, but there are still consequences to what we do and others still get hurt.

People that need professional help won’t ask for it ashamed and hiding it into their selves until others are hurt.

This is true of both men and women.

When compassion is gone from the heart you become less of a person in need of compassion yourself.

A woman is all things, Romantic, Passionate, soft, warm compassionate, honest loving strong, with faith hope and intellect, with morals classy but yet sex appeal to herself and others.

Her beauty shines with motherhood.

God smiles at the masterpiece of art that He created,

The woman.

Life lessons

Learn to fish, you will be always have food,

Find a dream. you will always have a reason to live.

Find love, and life is worth living.

Find faith and you will always be strong,

Find hope and you will always have courage.

Find God,He will give these things to you.

Give all of these lessons to your children.

and you will leave a legacy.

Changes in the world

I believe the only way to make changes in the world,

is not to remain passive if you see something wrong ,

or someone that needs your help.

For no one changes the unseen wrong,

Only with open eyes can a life or a social issue

be changed for the better.

Silence and passiveness can be a prison for change.

Together we can make our world and our country

a better place to live.

But not without being a voice for those who can not speak.

A World Without a Baked Potato

Imagine a world without a baked potato or candied sweet potato; without string-less beans or baked beans; without roasting ears, popcorn or roasted peanuts! A world without the succulent tomato, the savory pumpkin pie, or the aromatic pineapple, is difficult to picture. Yet such was the world of the Knights of the Round Table, of Robin Hood, and the Maid of Orleans. Accustomed as we are to a great variety of fruits and vegetables, we do not realize how limited were the diets and range of vegetable foods of our European ancestors before the discovery of the Americas. In all Europe only the Saracens in Spain had much diversity of fruits, or enjoyed vegetables of high quality. They had introduced these products from the Near East and other parts of the Moslem world, and they were the most skillful agriculturists of Europe.

But even their vegetable markets would have been considered meager by our shoppers of today. Only a few places in southeastern China, in Java, and perhaps limited areas in India and Africa, had a variety of fruits and vegetables of good quality and comparable in any way with those of the Americas, from Virginia and Illinois to Brazil and Peru. In general, the Native Americans ate far better and in greater variety than did the Europeans, Africans, and Asiatics. The first European voyages to the New World were to regions where agriculture and horticulture were fully developed. The choicest and most useful kinds of fruit and vegetables were promptly taken-especially from the West Indies and Brazil-to Spain and Portugal.

Wherever possible they were speedily utilized in the warmer regions of Europe, and were carried by slave traders to Africa, where they penetrated from the coasts to the remote interior. The Aztec soldiers of the Spanish army took native foods from Mexico to the Philippines, and from there their culture spread to China, Japan, and throughout the East Indies and Malaya. At the same time the Portuguese carried food plants to Ceylon, India, Malakka, Amboyna, and the rest of the Molukkas.

It is true that many people, in all parts of the world, resist attempts to change their diet or food habits. At the same time people of all lands, whose diet is often insufficient in quantity and quality, joyously hail the introduction of a new, savory and nutritious food plant. The new food plant is regarded as a great benefaction, and passes with astonishing rapidity from tribe to tribe, until it crosses a continent, or penetrates vast distances into the interior, unless stopped by the barriers of climate, deserts, or great mountain ranges. As one result of these miscellaneous distributions, people soon began to claim introduced plants as of native origin.

Bathroom Appearance Made Classic With Modern Bathroom Vanities

In today’s world, the modern bathroom vanities are important to match the modern house atmosphere. It is an element that makes a typical house look classic and modern by how it impacts the appearance of the bathroom. Just like any household vanity, it is made up of styles and designs that suit the theme of the space.

Modern bathroom vanities come in various materials. The materials include wood, steel, ceramic, granite, aluminium, fibre glass and plain glass. Aside from materials, there are also the kinds of furniture for the bathroom vanities such as the basin sink bathroom cabinets, mirrors, stand-alone shelves, mounted wall shelves, and vanity cupboards. These wide selections make the bathroom vanity fit any type of lifestyle and preferences of modern living.

To give you idea of what to look for in bathroom vanities, below are the lists of bathroom vanities to consider:

o Glass and lighting vanities – There are two choices of glass vanities: Venetian mirrors or designer glass. The Venetian mirrors can be mounted independently on the wall of the bathroom or can be attached in vanity basin sinks. It can also be attached behind cabinet doors, within the shelf or behind the bathroom door. For the designer glass, it could be incorporated as cabinet door, vanity basin sinks and shelves. Glass and lighting vanities create an overall classic and grandeur appearance of the bathroom.

o Cabinet and shelves vanity – The wood bathroom vanities are almost always referred to the cabinets and shelves of the bathroom. It comes either with attached mirror or in plain wooden materials. Some vanity bathroom cabinets, though comes in steel which is actually cheaper. Whether steel or wood, the vanity cabinets and vanity shelves are used if there’s more space in the bathroom. If there is limited space, vanity wall cabinets can be suitable as it is merely mounted on the wall and does not require floor space.

o Basin sink and bath tubs vanity – These two items are essential items in modern bathroom vanities. The materials that provide high durability for basin sinks and tubs are stone bathroom vanities. It can be in granite or marble which is enduring in bathroom heat and chemical actions. There would also be no problem if you choose wood bathroom vanities for the basin sink since it is usually quoted with some chemicals so it won’t easily be scratched. The chemical coating also endures the various temperatures in the bathroom surroundings. As for the bathroom tubs, the usual materials used are ceramic, granite and marble. All these materials are durable and it’s up to you to choose among the various styles and colours that suit the theme of your bathroom.

All in all it is best to get bathroom vanities that compliment the overall appearance of your bathroom. Aside from the appearance, other factors such as the costs, durability and low maintenance requirement should also be considered. You can usually get tips and ideas from friends and relatives with their experience on modern bathroom vanities.

To get more idea online, the site

http://www.homelivingstyle.com provides you more options.

Advance Your Business And Your Career

Here is an idea that can revolutionize your business and your life. Many organizations have retreats but how many professionals do you know that take time to go off-site and do some thinking and strategic planning about their career and life? A new year brings resolutions for many that are often broken before the end of January. How about planning some meaningful time to go away all by yourself and put some focused effort into your career? This process is commonly called holding a retreat though I like to refer to it as an advance – after all you want to go forward.

Your thinking, concentration ability and focus will be enhanced when you can get away to an environment that is conducive to creative thinking and planning. Find a place where there are no ringing telephones, pending projects, or distractions of other kinds. To maximize your productivity, leave behind your beeper, turn off the ringer on your cell phone, and block out some time where you don’t feel rushed by other commitments. If you completely clear your calendar and don’t call in for messages, your productivity will be greatly improved. I read recently that Bill Gates even copied my idea! Except Bill does a whole week and calls it his “think week”. He was quoted in USA Weekend:

Ours is a very fast-moving field. You have to be able to step back from it. Many years ago, I decided to take a week every year and absorb myself in thinking many years ahead. I get colleagues to put together what Ph.D. theses I should read, what products I should play with, what memos I should look at. So, it’s been, except for sleeping a little bit, day and night all by myself uninterrupted.

If Bill Gates can do this, I would hope that most of us could find at least one day to spend in proactive thinking and planning. I did my first session on a beautiful remote beach in the panhandle of Florida. I spent some time working on the beach and some inside at the beach cottage I had rented. That one day advance resulted in more career growth and action than any other single thing I have done in my business. Since then, I’ve had a one or two-day session every year. I have done my advances in State Parks, at Bed and Breakfast Inns, on a camping trip, and in hotel rooms. Think of an environment that you enjoy and one that stimulates your creativity. You might try the mountains, a quiet park, at the beach or lakeside. Before you leave, give some thought as to what you want to accomplish on your planning retreat. Here are some things to consider when you advance:

Advance Forward

o Set big picture goals

o Develop major projects

o Brainstorm new ideas and products

o Plan educational opportunities to grow your career

o Write or revise your personal mission (you might want to read or reread Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People before you advance).

Questions to ponder:

o What can I do to develop and promote my uniqueness in my career?

o How can I continue to grow as a manager, saleswoman or business owner?

o What questions can I provide answers to for my clients or my organization?

o Am I doing what I’ve been called to do or naturally do best?

o How do my family and friends factor into my work?

o Am I being challenged and fulfilled in my work?

o How am I going to stay energized and motivated?

What to do with your day

o Carpe diem – start early and work hard in the morning.

o Eat foods to help you stay energized

o Make sure your are well rested before your leave

o Take an afternoon nap or short walk

o Reward yourself and play some after you have achieved your desired result

What to bring:

o Four to six colors of index cards, 15 to 20 of each color

o Something to record your thoughts and ideas

o Some motivational material to read

o Your favorite inspirational music

o Your planner and calendar

o A legal pad and colored pens

How to do it

Write a title card for the area you are brainstorming. Write one idea per card as quickly as they come, not evaluating the ideas or coming up with action plans. Or if you are familiar with Mind Mapping, create maps of each of your main ideas. Use the different colors for different categories. After you have written several ideas, spread the cards out and prioritize them. When you return to the office, post all your ideas on a bulletin board in priority order so you will stay focused. Put them where you can see them every day. Don’t be frustrated when interruptions happen as they inevitably will. Find some way each day to work on the high priority goals. Do something every day that will bring you closer to achieving your big picture goals.

Remember the words of the famous philosopher anonymous who said, “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.” Take an opportunity to make this year your best year yet. Schedule some time, block it out on your calendar, and get ready for an incredible year!