Too Busy for the Gym?

If you want to improve your life this year, the first thing you need to banish is your list of excuses. Then again, sometimes our excuses are pretty legitimate.

Good example – you might be working overtime, filling your spare moments studying a foreign language or working on your side business. So you aren’t just belly-aching when you say you are too busy or tired for the gym.

I hear you, but don’t give up so easily. Oftentimes with a touch of creativity, we can explode our excuses and find a way toward our goals. Here is one of my favorite shortcuts to success.

Too busy for the gym? Too tired? Here’s the routine. Order a pull-up bar for a doorway you pace through frequently in your home. Everytime you pass, do a pull-up. Boom, that’s your workout. Too easy? Do two pull-ups. Or two pull-ups and a couple pushups.

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Cost? A few bucks for a pull-up bar. Time? 30 seconds here and there throughout the day. Results? You’ll work your shoulders, upper arms, back, and core.

So how about you? Taking this same principle of finding simple hacks around common excuses, what ideas do you have? Share yours in the comment section below!

 

 

How to Do Your Taxes Easily This Year

dollar-1362243_960_720The tax deadline will soon be upon us. In the past, I’ve put off filing my taxes to the last minute. Unfortunately, this means I scramble to get them done, possibly missing additional ways to save and creating lots of unnecessary stress. One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to file my taxes as soon as I can.

If you’d like to join me in getting them done early then you should know that you really have 3 options when it comes to filing your taxes.

Option 1: File Taxes Through an Accountant

This is the easiest option of all. But it comes with two downsides. First, it is the most expensive option. In 2014, the average tax preparation fee was $273. I can think of a lot of things you’d rather spend your money on than a tax accountant. Then again, if you have an extremely complicated tax situation, you may find that this is the best route to take. The second downside is by turning it all over to an accountant, you remove yourself from the process to a certain degree. I believe in self-sufficiency, so I think as much as possible, it is best to take charge of things yourself. That leads to opportunities to learn more and to become more self-reliant.

Option 2: File Taxes Yourself

You may think that this is the option I recommend. After all, it’s free. It also gives you total control over the process. However, I do not recommend filing taxes manually by yourself. Why? The IRS estimates about 20% of manually filed taxes contain errors. That’s a 1 in 5 chance. Scary. It is just too easy to make a mistake if we do all the math and paperwork by hand.

Option 3: File Taxes Through an IRS-approved Software Program

This option is the winner in my book. Why? It combines the best features of options 1 and 2 while minimizing their downsides. If you file your taxes through an IRS-approved software program, you will pay a lot less than through an accountant. In fact, Turbo Tax even has an option for free filing for simple federal taxes. My tax situation is more complicated because I am an expat who works for a foreign company and I simultaneously run my own business, but even I only pay about 50 dollars for TurboTax’s deluxe package to handle all those extra details. And the IRS estimates that only 1% of taxes filed through programs like TurboTax have errors, making them 20X safer than trying to file by yourself and making them comparable to filing through an accountant.

My favorite feature of TurboTax is their Audit Risk Meter, which reviews your entire return and lets you know if there are any red flags. I also love their live on-screen help to answer any questions that pop up as you work.

With the deadline just days away, whether you choose option 1, option 2, or option 3, you need to get started right away! Good luck, and here’s to a big refund this year!

12 Traits That Turn You into an Attractive Single

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Today’s post is written by our good friend over at GlobalSeducer.com

It’s not easy to be single.

You are constantly reminded that you should be unhappy. Your mother tells you that you need someone in your life and whenever you turn on the TV you want to throw your remote control out of the window.

“Please not another romantic comedy movie” you think to yourself.

You are sick and tired of your single life. You don’t want to admit it, but your mom is right. Having someone you can talk to, someone who cuddles you and supports you would change your life.

But it’s hard. It’s hard to find the right partner.

Nevertheless, you are ready for love.

Let’s have a look at what you have to do in order to become so attractive that meeting the perfect partner becomes as easy as stealing candy from a child (not that you should do that).

You Love Yourself

Self-love is so important.

I recently read a book with the title “Love yourself like your life depends on it”. It changed my life and it reminded me of what was missing when I was a frustrated single.

I didn’t love myself. Worst of all, I didn’t understand that you first need to love yourself before someone else can love you. It took me a while to realize that. I hope it doesn’t take you as long as it took me.

Start today. Look into the mirror and say “I love myself”. It might feel a bit awkward, but these three words can change your life.

You Know Exactly What You Want

You need to know who you want to attract before you can attract the right person.

Unfortunately, a lot of singles don’t even ask themselves the most important question of all:

“What do I really want?”

Unless you know what you want, you won’t get it. Just imagine if you would apply for a job at a big company without specifically stating what job you are interested in.

Do you think this company would hire you?

Of course not!

The same is true if you want to have a relationship. When you are on a date with someone and you can’t even tell this person what you are looking for, you won’t leave a good impression.

You Are Patient and Persistent

Dating can be tedious.

You go on one date after another. The first date is boring. What about the next date? Don’t even get me started.

You might fall in love with someone who doesn’t love you. You might think that someone loves you until this person cheats on you. Then you have to start all over again.

The one trait that will help you in this situation is to be patient and persistent. If you continue to show up, success will come. This is true for every aspect of life, even for love.

You Promise Yourself to Not Settle For Less

One of the biggest mistakes that frustrated singles can make is to settle for less. They settle down with the first person who shows interest in them because they are scared of losing the only shield against a lonely life.

I think you already know why this is extremely dangerous.

There’s a high chance that the first person who shows interest in you is not the right partner for you. Just because someone likes you doesn’t mean that this someone is good for you.

Please promise yourself that you won’t settle for less. Ignore this advice and you might wake up next to your worst nightmare.

You Are Ready to Meet New People

I don’t say that you shouldn’t be afraid to meet new people.

I mean, let’s be honest. If you are alone for quite a while, leaving the house and meeting new people is hard. It takes a lot of courage, especially when you are a natural introvert like me.

But you need to do it. Meeting new people is the only way to eventually meet a new partner.

You Invest at Least One Hour a Day

Being a single who wants to have a partner is like being a college student who wants to have a diploma. If you don’t work for it, you won’t get it. It’s that simple.

What kind of work am I talking about?

Well, just like a college student, you can read blogs (like this one), buy books, and go to seminars to learn how to meet a partner. All the information you need is out there.

Investing one hour a day accumulates to 365 hours a year. You can learn a lot about dating and relationships in 365 hours.

You Have Boundaries

A person without boundaries will get hurt in the dating jungle.

The sad truth is that not all people you are going to meet are sweet and nice. You might meet someone who wants to control you. You might even meet someone who wants to psychologically abuse you.

You have to be prepared. You need to have boundaries that nobody is allowed to cross. Without boundaries, you run the risk of attracting a lot of drama that you don’t really want.

 Your Style Represents Your Personality

Having an attractive style is not the same as running after every new trend. Just because everyone is walking around in a jeans jacket doesn’t mean that it will look good on you.

You need to develop your own style. The best tip that I can give you is to choose a style that represents your personality.

The style that shows who you really are is the style that will make you more attractive.

 You Know How to Communicate

Do you want to make sure that your next date will be amazing?

Then you need to know how to communicate.

Just think about what you do on a date. You talk. Sometimes you talk for hours. You get to know each other and you do this by communicating.

 You Are Always Ready for an Adventure

Do you need to be Indiana Jones in order to attract women?

No, you don’t have to be that extreme, but you should always be ready for an adventure.

Being adventurous will set you apart from your competition. I’m serious. In today’s world so many people spend their time in front of the TV, looking at their smartphones and wasting hours watching cat videos on YouTube.

If you can prove that you are an adventurous person, everyone wants to date you.

 You Are Not Afraid to Fail

If you don’t try, you’ve already failed.

When it comes to dating, you can’t really fail unless you don’t try. I honestly think that going on 100 dates and not finding someone who is right for you is impossible.

Some of the people you meet won’t call you back. Others will pick up the phone when you call them and make up an excuse to why they can’t meet you again.

That’s life. You have to learn to deal with it. You need to accept that failure is a part of the game. You can only win if you’ve failed a few times.

 You Have a Never Giving Up Attitude

That’s why it’s so important to have a never giving up attitude.

Yes, you will fail. You will meet people who test your boundaries. There will be days when you want to hide under a blanket.

But if you don’t give up, you will eventually find love and happiness.

The Winner’s Mindset

Today we are looking at one of the fundamentals of self-improvement – the winner’s mindset. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that it may be the single most important tool you need on your self-improvement journey.

The Winner’s Mindset

OK, what is the winner’s mindset? I define it as follows.

The winner’s mindset is a fundamental belief that someone has about themselves. It is the sense that he or she is a winner, that most life experiences will turn out to be successes, that failure is a temporary circumstance that can be overcome with adjustments, and most importantly, that one deserves to have the best things in life.

Let’s break that definition down piece by piece to understand it more.

The winner’s mindset is a fundamental belief that someone has about themselves. . .

The winner’s mindset should be one of your core beliefs. On good days and bad, after wins and losses, when all is well and when all sucks – you should feel somewhere deep inside that you are good, smart, capable, and able to overcome. If you don’t feel this, it likely stems from self-confidence issues. Trust me when I say that I struggled with this mindset growing up.

You can’t just get a winner’s mindset overnight if you don’t have it now. It will take time to develop but the method is pretty simple. You have to start loving yourself and treating yourself as a friend. It sounds cliche, but seriously, hear me out for a minute, because if you truly understand this, so many other challenges in life will be solved.

No matter where you are at in life right now, you deserve your love. At the end of the day, friends may desert you. Family may let you down. Health can fail, money can disappear, and jobs can be cut unceremoniously. Most of us put our own self-confidence into the hands of other people. IF they have a good job, IF they have a great girlfriend or boyfriend, IF they are sitting pretty financially, THEN they think well of themselves. But if they lose one, or worse, all of those things, they then see themselves as failures and losers.

You may be thinking this way right now. I know I did in the past.

But you know what? In this whole world, no one knows you better than you. Noone knows your struggles and challenges, hopes and fears, like you do. You need to become your own best friend.

Think about it. If your friend loses his job, what do you do? Laugh at him? Call him a failure? A loser? Tell him he’s doomed? Of course not. You will remind your friend of his strong points, offer any assistance, give encouragement, root for him and believe he’ll ger through it.

How much better would your life be like if you started treating yourself the same way you treat your friends? Or even further, if you genuinely loved yourself? Look in the mirror, see that face looking back at you and honestly say, “Wow, we’ve been through so much together. I love you, keep going, I believe in you.”

That is what winners do. They believe in themselves.

What if you don’t feel it? Say it anyway. Our brains have a way of syncing up our feelings with our words. So even if you feel outmatched, overwhelmed, and ready to give up, don’t. Go to the mirror, look yourself in the face, and say the words you need to hear. Be your best friend. Love yourself.

OK, if you can do that, the rest is easy.

. . . It is the sense that he or she is a winner . . .

You are a winner. You aren’t defined by your mistakes. Everone makes those. Especially people who try to accomplish something. You are a winner. Even if you haven’t scored a big win in your life, you are a winner who has just hasn’t reached your true destination yet. You are a winner.

. . . that most life experiences will turn out to be successes. . .

Unsatisfied with your current job? You career still has a long way to go and you can still reach your goals.  Have a bad relationship with one of your friends? Work on fixing it. Or if it can’t be fixed, work on finding a better friend. Your current state does not dictate your end result. Believe that in the end, you will achieve your desires.

If you live in Kansas, and your goal is to see the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll spend lots of time traveling and never see the beach until the very end of your trip. If you don’t see the sand yet, keep going!

. . . that failure is a temporary circumstance that can be overcome with adjustments. . .

Quote me on this because it isone of the smarter things I’ve ever said – “Never change your dream; frequently change your methodology.”

This means, when you screw up and don’t get the result you want, please don’t give up on your goal. Just change your tactics abit. If you want to get a great job and you crashed and burned on your last 3 interviews, don’t take it as a sign that you can’t get the job you want. Instead change tactics. Update your resume. Practice some interviewing with friends. Modify some of the answers you have been giving. Or shoot for a less challenging role now, learn some more, and then try for your dream job next year.

Change your tactics; hold fast to your goal.

. . . and that one deserves to have the best things in life.

No one on this planet is more valuable than you. You matter as much as anyone. Your dreams matter. You deserve to experience the life that you want.

Believe in your inherent worth. Never sacrifice your mission in life to placate others. You deserve your dreams and this world deserves a confident, motivated you!

The Winner’s Creed

To help you internalize the the winner’s mindset, I’ve written the Winner’s Creed. Save it as your wallpaper, share it, and live by it!

I am a winner. There is no one like me. I may not win immediately, but I will win eventually. Watch me win!.png

All the best,

Jamie

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How to Become a Problem-Solving Ninja

Hi all,

It’s Jamie here. Welcome to September. Today I have a simple trick that will help you solve any problem. Well, almost any problem. That sock that disappeared in the washing machine last week is just long gone now, you need to accept it and move on.

But almost any other problem can be understood more fully and solved if you follow this ridiculously simple, powerful method.

How to Fix (Almost) Any Problem

The  method has two steps. First you need to understand the problem; then you can fix it. Step 1 is where most people screw up. Let me use an example to help you understand as we go along.

Let’s say you keep getting to work late. Your boss is angry about it and you are starting to get scared that you’ll get fired. What is your problem?

Most people will answer like this. My problem is my boss is angry. Or my problem is I am always late.

While those answers are not incorrect, they are certainly incomplete. With a bit more probing, we can potentially understand your problem is a better way.

How?

Ask “Why?” Ask it 5 times. Watch the magic at work. Let’s take the statement, “The problem is I am late” and apply Five Whys to it.

Why am I late. I sleep through my alarm. Why do I sleep through my alarm. Because it isn’t loud enough and I am so tired in the morning. (Maybe this problem can be solved by buying a louder alarm, but let’s keep digging deeper for more insights.) Why are you tired in the morning? I don’t sleep well at night. Why? (Don’t give a cheap answer here like, “I just never do, it is what it is, blah blah) Is your mattress uncomfortable? Are you stressed at night? Are you too cold? Too warm? Is your room too bright. Do you play video games before bed and the blue light from the TV interferes with your sleep later? Really dig in and answer why.

If you ask why at least 5 times, you’ll gain a true understanding of your problems. Sometimes the answers will shock you and introduce you to novel solutions you never imagined. Let’s illustrate this by asking why to our other answer – My problem is I have an angry boss.

Why is an angry boss a problem for me? He might fire me. Why is that a problem? I will lose my source of income. Why is that a problem, can you find any other sources? Maybe we are waking up late because this job is really not exciting us. Maybe we ought to be quitting it and launching our own business that we don’t need an alarm to wake us up for. Maybe there is a much bigger problem in our life than a cheap alarm clock. We might really need a career change or a diet change so we sleep better. You won’t easily identify those ideas though unless you relentlessly ask Why.

OK, that was step 1. Understand, really understand your problem by asking why… alot. Now step 2.

In step 2, you need to silence all the voices in your head that will push you toward a standard, boring answer to your Why questions. Be as optimistic and free-thinking as possible. Otherwise, you’ll never think of ideas like launching a business as a solution to your problem of waking up late.

I often find that it helps to run through the Five Whys exercise with a friend. Why? You are often unaware of the ruts in your mind that drive your thinking into the same patterns again and again. If you have a problem now, it means you haven’t figured out how to fix it yet. Some clear, focused positive thinking can give you novel solutions, but so too can a friend who is approaching your issue with fresh eyes and a different thought pattern.

If you love this idea, you really ought to check out The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business. It is packed with great ideas like the Five Whys that will help you win in business and win in life. Here are some statistics on The Personal MBA that shows how popular it has become. Don’t go through life without its powerful ideas for one more day!

  • #1 International Bestseller
  • Over 300,000 Copies Sold Worldwide
  • #1 in Business Training on Amazon.com
  • #1 Audible.com Business Bestseller
  • 2013 Audio Publishers Association Awards Finalist
  • 299+ five-star reviews on Amazon.com
  • 1,250+ five-star ratings on Audible.com

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Good luck to all my problem-solving ninjas out there!

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Forget me not! 4 Memory Improvement Hacks

From time to time I answer interesting questions on Quora and then share it all here with readers of Improve My Life This Year. Here’s to improving our memories today!

 I earned a 4.0 in undergrad and I am just a regular guy. How did I remember what I learned? Here were my 3 personal memory hacks with a bonus one at the end.

How to Win at Life in Your 3os

Full discloser: I turned 30 not that long ago. It was the first birthday that inspired existential angst. Where has all the time gone? What am I doing with my life? Will my life sputter out or blossom into greatness? Will I ever see the Tampa Bay Rays win the Series? So many unanswered questions.

Everyone talks about how important your 20s are, and with good reason. In our 20s, we’ll likely choose our universities, select our majors, start our careers, and at probably meet the person we wind up marrying. With so many key decisions coming in our 20s, it can be easy to assume that success or failure in life depends on our 20s.

Malarkey.

See, here the problem with our 20s. It’s all kinda set up for us. Go to school? Apply to some places and go to the best one that accepts you. Choose a major? Well, select the one you like, or your dad did, or your friends are in, or one that was in a table of top-earning majors. Future spouse? Date a few people and when you meet one that seems better than the rest, go ahead and marry them.

It doesn’t seem like it when you are in that decade, but your 20’s are very much mapped out by family and social expectations.

But how about your 30s? This is the decade, you will sink or swim. The decade that will launch you past your peers or see you stagnate. Why?

It comes down to those social expectations. All those expectations in our 20s propel us forward. Go to school. Graduate. Date. Marry. Intern. Work. Manage. But what pushes us forward in our 30s? Generally, we aren’t meeting and dating as many people as we were in our 20s. We aren’t bouncing from job to job. We aren’t learning tons of new things like when we were in classes.

We settle in.

When we settle in, we stagnate. Our growth slows dramatically. Our horizons shrink. We wind up with a stable set of skills, friends, interests, and activities.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can learn and growth and advance just as fast as we did in our 20s. We just have to push ourselves now.

No professor will tell you to read a book. You’ll have to hunt down great books and choose to read them.

Friends won’t be dragging you to the college bar to meet people. You’ll have to choose to get involved in community groups, local sports, or volunteer to meet new people frequently.

If you are in a long-term relationship, you’ll have to make the effort to find new ways to understand your partner and new ways to enjoy your relationship.

If you can choose to create this kind of forward momentum in your 30s, this decade will be your best yet. And you’ll be way, way ahead of your peers who settle in and stop growing.

Win this decade. Win at life. Choose progress over stagnation.

Until next time,

Jamie

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