Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Are you ready for the future?

Will you be ready for the future?

Tim Connor

At the outset I want to make it very clear than I am an optimist and not a doomsday freak, however what I am about to share with you is not a personal opinion, but the result of a great deal of research and study during the past several months that I feel obligated to share with you – and you can interpret this as you feel appropriate or just dismiss me as some crazed out of touch lunatic.

I have read over a dozen books during the past few months by some of the most respected; economists, scientists, spiritual leaders and futurists and their common message that each of them put forward is - that we as a nation are headed for an economic collapse like we have never witnessed in our history – one that will make the depression in the 
1940’s seem like a well planned and executed happy birthday party. 

You can stick with me here or you can trash this article – the choice is yours, but let me caution you – circumstances do not care about our personal opinions, judgments or views – they are what they are and they will always be what they will be.  All we can do is respond to them with courage, maturity, common sense, faith, hope, resilience and yes -preparation.

One other thing before I dig deeper into this topic and you can accept it, reject it or be willing to consider its consequences or reality as you see fit depending on your spiritual values – God has been, is and always will be in total control of the Universe and all that is contained within it.

OK, so the point of this message.

I won’t bore you with the hundreds of illustrations, examples and perceptual interpretations from these sources, but I will do my best to summarize their findings, projections and opinions in a realistic and non-biased way.

Let me start with the common rationale.

During the past few thousand years there have been numerous examples of where God becomes disenchanted with the actions and behaviors of His people.  As a result there were a variety of calamities that he allowed to happen with the purpose of hoping that we would wake up, pay attention and realize that all He wants from us is our belief and obedience to him and His mission for humanity.

In the past we have failed to honor His expectations of us and we paid a price and we are doing it all again now.  Add to this background the current trend of the world economy, political arrogance and the rise of evil in the world plus the apathy of millions of people in this country when  it comes to the negative direction of our nation - again; economically, socially, spiritually and politically and anyone with any sense would accept that if we don’t right ourselves soon we will pay a price, a devastating price in every conceivable way that will impact every citizen of this country and millions of others around the globe.

Here are just a few statistics and circumstances that give credence to the common predictions of disaster from all of these sources as well as many other credible resources - if we don’t change course for the better quickly.

-Inflation will increase dramatically during the coming months causing everything we buy to skyrocket.

-Terrorism is on the rise in the world and sooner or later we will experience the consequences of their desire to destroy our way of life that we have come to know and enjoy.

-Political correctness is causing us to be on the defensive when it comes to reality and common sense.

-Politicians are unwilling to make the hard and necessary decisions that must be dealt with if we are to avoid financial disaster.

-This country has over one hundred and fifty trillion dollars in unfunded debt and this can never be paid during our lifetime and/or the lifetime of our children.  This dramatically rising debt will impact and hurt us all for years to come.

-We are losing our spiritual foundation as a nation.

-Apathy is at an all time high when it comes to personal responsibility.

-Every nation in Europe is on a financial precipice and it is inevitable that sooner rather than later one or more will crash and there will be an impact on every other nation as we are living in a time that when something negative happens in the Global Village – it will impact all of us directly or indirectly.

-The value of the dollar will fall dramatically during the next several months causing us to lose buying power of what we need to sustain ourselves.

I could go on, but you either agree with me, are unaware of any of this, just don‘t care or think I am nuts and none of this will happen or if it does you will be immune to the consequences.

So - what can we do?  Well, in the larger sense there is little we have control over, however there are some things we can do.  Here are just a few to consider.

-Get back to your spiritual foundation and roots and strengthen your trust, hope, belief and faith in God.

-Start speaking up – in your community, city, town and nation to give politicians a wake-up call – that enough is enough. Insist that they start doing what is best and right for all of us and not just a select few of us.

-Ensure that whatever assets you have are fluid, safe and available.

-Get out of your mental malaise and apathy and accept that we all have choices and responsibility to do what we can and when - to change the direction of this country for the better and experience once again the prosperity, peace, respect and faith in our future – economically, socially and spiritually that we have learned to appreciate and value.

-Start reading resources that give you ideas, suggestions and actions you can take to reduce the negative impact of whatever negative circumstances lay ahead.

-Pay attention and get out of your personal bubble that whatever happens in the future was unavoidable and there was nothing you could do or say to avoid or prevent it.

-Prepare. However you choose to define this.

-And finally – wake up!

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” 
Ben Franklin

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The imact of worry

The impact of worry
Tim Connor

Let me start with the results of numerous surveys over the years. Over 90% of the things people worry about never happen.  OK, so why do people let worry dominate their life? Or, better still what are the consequences of worry when it comes to health, relationships and life in general?

The major issue with worry is its contribution to stress and stress is a killer so does worry kill people? Yes. Oh, maybe not directly, but indirectly.

What do people worry about? In no particular order they worry about health issues, careers, relationships, the weather, getting a flat tire, missing a plane, whether people will accept or like them – get it?  People who worry, worry about everything, but they tend to worry about some things more than others. But, the common denominator in the things people worry about are the things they want to control or even influence but fail to realize that some things in life just can’t be controlled;

-The behavior of others.
-Yes, the weather.
-The economy.
-The consequences of decisions made by others.

This list is far too long for this article, but let me ask you – are you a worrier?  If so what do you tend to worry most about? And how is this life approach working for you?
Why do people worry?  I eluded it to it in the above paragraph – they want control and when they have it they worry about losing it and when they don’t have it they worry about what will happen because they can’t control the things they need or want to control.

People also worry about stupid or trivial stuff.  Stuff that in the grand scheme of life don’t really matter, but they have chosen to make them big deals instead of just letting this trivial stuff go and moving on accepting that which they can’t control.

They worry about their future.  They worry about things they did or didn’t do in the past and their impact on their lives in the present and even the future.  They worry about money, security, opinions of others, being misunderstood, potential conflict – again I could go on and on with this stuff, but I’m sure you don’t need more examples.

They worry because they just have to worry – their rational is simple – this is who I am – I am a worrier.  Come on – yes, you may have had that mindset in the past, but the only reason it dominates your life is because you are comfortable with worry and see no longer worrying as a casual way of living life and more or less – appearing as not caring about stuff or that if you don’t worry you are not serious or mature or more realistic etc.

What are the consequences of worry? As I said earlier worry contributes to stress and stress is a major contributor of illness and illness is a major contributor to death.
In brief – worry keeps people stuck in negative mindsets or attitudes and these will impact the quality of all relationships, effectiveness, creativity, problem solving, decision making and every aspect of your daily life.

Worry is nothing more than a mental habit and these mindsets can be changed, but a person often needs to be confronted in a significant way with the short and/or long term impact of any attitude, belief or behavior before they will consider changing it, releasing it or improving it.

Worry causes people to make rash immature decisions, take foolish actions and fail to consider the real consequences of these.  So- they worry, act, decide and inherit the consequences of their thoughts and then justify the consequences they get as unavoidable.  They go into denial, justification and often fail to accept the personal reality they caused as their responsibility.

What can we do to better manage worries? I am not a psychologist or a medical doctor and I am not suggesting that people need medication or therapy to better handle life’s issues in a more positive or proactive way but let me share a few things to consider – if you are a worrier;

11)   Start keeping a journal of all the things you worry about.  Write them all down and then track them to see what the actual outcomes were over time. Then ask yourself – was my worry about this warranted or even justified?

22)   Spend dedicated time each day (from a few minutes to even an hour and just worry – have a list of things you want to worry about and just go through the list one item at a time). Once this time is over don’t allow yourself any time during the rest of your day for worry.

33)   Learn to focus on the now – not tomorrow, not yesterday or not next week.

44)   Pat attention to your thoughts whenever you worry and ask yourself – is worry about this worth my time or energy?
55) Create a list of all of your major worries of the past and ask yourself – how did these circumstances turn out?

66)   Use mental anchors – whenever you start to worry about anything – replace those thoughts with positive ones – anything that distracts you from the negative and helps you focus on the positives.

77)   Create a count your blessings list and whenever you start to worry about anything – pull your list out and review the items one at a time.

88)   Start exposing yourself to more positive mental inputs – books, CD’s, people - anything that helps you realize how special each day is.

99)   Start trusting God and improving your faith in tomorrow accepting what is and what you can’t control.

“Bacteria and other microorganisms find it easier to infect people who worry and fret.” 
Leo Rangell

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What's your story?

What’s Your Story?
Tim Connor

We all have a story.  What’s yours?  Let me explain.

As the years pass we tend to develop our life story and I’m not referring here to the events, circumstances or outcomes during life, but the story we have come to believe about ourselves and what we tell others.

Think about it for a moment . . . what are some of the things you tell others about your life or experiences and lessons that is totally made up and contrived that you for whatever reason have come to believe as truth?

We all do it - not always to mislead others, but often to make ourselves look good or justify our mistakes, lessons or even our successes.
Let me give you a personal example.
Over forty years ago when I was in the Air Force I won the Guam track meet for the discuss and qualified to go to the Olympic trials in Japan. I came in 3rd and didn’t make the cut to go to the Olympics representing the Air Force.  But my story over the years became the following, “I qualified coming in second but the base commander on the base I was serving wouldn’t give me leave time to participate.”  A lie?  A misrepresentation?  Call it what you want, but over the years I came to believe the story I told others from time to time as true even though I knew it wasn’t.  A big deal? Not in my personal opinion but still – it wasn’t the truth. Did this story hurt anyone? No.  But, as time passed it became easier and easier to tell this false story as I had convinced myself that it was true.

Are there other stories in my life that I fudge?  Of course.  Do you do it? Well if you don’t think so you are in total denial.

Why do we all do this as we develop the stories of our life? Is it the need for acceptance? Is it some inner emotional lack or something simpler? I believe for each of us the reasons my vary, but in the end each of us have in some way adjusted our versions of truth for a personal agenda.

As a speaker giving presentations worldwide for many years I have developed many stories to illustrate some of the points in my message.  Are they all one hundred percent accurate? No.  Does it matter? Well, as long as they illustrate my points in a clear way and are insignificant when it comes to my life do they hurt me or others?  Before you answer that question I would ask you to consider the many variations of your life stories that you have come to believe and share and their ultimate impact on others.

I’m not talking here about pre-determined lies with the purpose of furthering a personal agenda, but simple insignificant examples, illustrations or lessons that you have come to use to help you make some sense of your life and its mistakes, failures or even successes.

We all fudge from time to time.  We all forget the details of our past life once in a while, but we all need our stories to make sense to us so we often fill in the gaps of our experiences, lessons or circumstances with made up information so the stories make sense if not to others at least to us.

Come on . . . if you are over forty even thirty do you think you remember all of the details of something that happened twenty years ago? Think about it – if you are forty that’s over 14,000 days you have lived and add to that the hours and that’s over 350,000 hours . . . get real . . .do you think you have an accurate memory when it comes to everything that you did or happened for over a quarter of a million hours of life?

Our stories are ours, we own them and often they shape our attitudes, mindsets, actions, decisions and choices.  The unimportant ones don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but the question remains – are some of your stories hurting others in some way or your success, happiness or continued personal development and growth?

“We do not choose our own parts in life, and have nothing to do with selecting those parts.  Our simple duty is confined to playing them well.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Life's 12 truths

Life’s 12 truths
Tim Connor
Life is complicated – or many people would have us believe.

It doesn’t matter your age, gender, race, religion, education or nationality, yes life can be complicated, but only if that is what you choose it to be.  Let me explain.

I believe there are twelve life truths that when we live them with integrity, consistency and purpose the rest of life’s “stuff” will take care of itself and not become our major focus or burdens as we pass from year to year and yes, life will be less complicated, challenging and even difficult. I could list hundreds of attitudes, behaviors, opinions, strategies etc. but in the end most of these can be successfully managed if we will but follow the following twelve.  They are in no particular order of importance, but yes, some can have a greater impact on our life success, happiness and inner peace than others.

Life is short – As each day passes we all have fewer years ahead of us and the question remains – what are you doing with the days you are given?  Wasting them with worry, regret, discouragement, stress, envy or even anger or embracing them with joy, effort, charity, happiness, creativity and compassion.

Life is about now – The past is gone.  The future is unknown and uncertain, but what we do have is now.  All memories are created in the now.  All of our futures are created in our now moments and what we do with them.  To live in yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s worries is to waste life.

Life is grounded in integrity – The essence of a life without stress, anxiety and success is grounded in truth.  When we stray from integrity we set ourselves up for disappointment, uncertain relationships and often disaster.  Truth - when the foundation of all life - contributes to inner peace, happiness and ultimate success.

Life is who you are – Life is not what you do, your roles, your responsibilities, your achievements, your failures or how you choose to define yourself.  Life is who you are and the ability to remain true to this regardless of your roles, responsibilities or relationships.  When you let circumstances and people influence who you are you lose who you are.

Life is about gratitude – There are two types of people in the world – those who feel they deserve what they get, want and have and want even more and those who feel gratitude for what they have.  Yes, they may want more or better, but regardless of what life gives them they always count their blessings for the gifts they are given. I am an armature on scripture, but I believe it says, I’m paraphrasing here, “Be happy with what you have and manage it well and you will get more.  Treat what you have with disrespect and as an Idol and you will lose what you have.”

Life is bigger than us – regardless of your spiritual values or beliefs – whether you are an atheist or committed Christian or somewhere in the middle you can’t deny that life is bigger than each and all of us. Laidlaw said it best over 100 years ago in his famous book, The Reason Why, “Wherever and whenever you see perfect design, there is always a designer.”  If you think the human body with all of its minute by minute miracles is the result of chance or that the Universe with its complexity and vastness is the result of pure chance, in my opinion you are living in a fantasy world.

Life is about love – There are two fundamental emotions that drive all behavior and these are fear and love.  When actions, decisions and behavior are grounded in fear things tend to get worse as regret, jealousy, discouragement, anger and hatred are all offshoots of fear. And when the above are rooted in love things will tend to improve.  This is not always the case, but as evidence has shown over the years that positive approaches (grounded in love) to challenges and problems tend to be more effective than negative ones (grounded in fear).

Life is about legacy – What will you leave behind when you leave here?  A positive, negative or neutral impact on the world and the people you interacted with while you lived your many years?  Legacy is not created during your final days but each day as you share your knowledge, experiences, wisdom, compassion and understanding. If you want a clue as to the legacy you will leave behind just take a peek at some of your relationships, activities and accomplishments that you are living now.  These will be accurate indications as to how or whether if you will even be remembered and the influence you had while alive.

Life is about growing – If you are not growing you are dying. Period.  If you are not learning you are stuck. Period.  If you are unwilling to embrace the positives related to change you are in denial.  If you are refusing to let go of outdated and inappropriate opinions, values, beliefs and attitudes you will remain a prisoner of your own mind and you are guaranteed to enjoy life less and accomplish little with the time you have left.

Life is about wisdom – Wisdom is not knowledge.  Wisdom is the combination of experience and knowledge.  Knowledge is not access to information, but knowing what information is needed to improve some aspect of your life.  Beware of the increased paradigm that information is power.  It is not.  Only wisdom is.  Wisdom makes life easier, more rewarding and more enjoyable.  Knowledge only improves your ability to discuss topics or subjects in a more relevant way.

Life is about community – We are all connected whether it is your neighbor, a distant relative or a stranger that lives thousands of miles away.  Each of us creates our own world by how we connect with others in relationship.  A rewarding life is about positive relationships grounded in respect, acceptance, compassion and understanding.  When we lose these we lose our ability to contribute to the lives of others.  When we let political correctness and our narrow perspectives determine who we relate to and how we will limit our ability to have a positive influence on the world and its occupants.

Life is about responsibility – I fear that many people today don’t grasp the concept of responsibility and spend more time and energy in denial, blame or finger pointing that that tend to rule their lives.  Many years ago responsibility was the dominant attitude of most people.  They better understood the consequences of choices, behavior and decisions than many people do today.  Responsibility, ultimately, is the outcome we will all face as our life comes to a close.  Did you accept outcomes with maturity, courage and action or did you spend (waste) your years focused on a failure to accept the consequences you created during your life as a result of your actions, behavior and decisions?  We will all one day have to look in the mirror as we contemplate our existence and how we lived our time here.  What will be your conclusions as you take your final breath?

There is more to life than increasing its speed.”