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Having Resolve

Having Resolve

By
Eva Fleming

My father suffered a massive stroke shortly after his 55th birthday. As a result, the right side of his body was completely paralyzed. After weeks in the hospital, followed by months of intense physical therapy and with the spiritual support of many colleagues around the world, he began to gain function of his body. In the beginning, he made a herculean effort to get out of bed alone, but gradually with the help of a cane and holding on to the walls for support he started ever so slowly to get from one place to the other.

His determination was so intent that in less than a year he was tending to his garden, pruning his fruit trees, teaching and even driving.

The success my father had relearning every mundane task starting from zero, shows what scientists have known all along – that the brain is more malleable than previously thought and is capable of rebuilding itself even after having been damaged or after having lived through trauma.

Determination and resolve coupled with the ability of the brain, due to its plasticity, to change and adapt, is what we need to keep on keeping on, never giving up!

Modern studies have revealed how the brain continues to create new neuron pathways and altering the already existing ones to adapt to new experiences, learn new information and create new memories even in the face of insurmountable obstacles. This means that the person who refuses to give up can be successful even amid the challenges he or she is facing.

When you want to conquer an obstacle, follow through on a resolution, or overcome a weakness, you can be certain that you are literally made out of a gray matter that is always renewing itself. This ability the brain has to renew itself, conquer obstacles, learn new routines and even develop noble character is the understated miracle of humanity. This should bring not only pleasure to our lives but also prompt us to be immensely grateful.

Even though we are saying it is a “miracle,” that doesn’t minimize the process of growth one has to go through and the stress that change inevitably brings: Everything that’s worth having is worth fighting for.

Here are some steps we recommend you follow when facing new challenges:

  • Accept your situation and embrace your challenge
  • Commit to getting the most out of the challenge and the process, learning the    lessons it provides along the way
  • Consider your personal growth as a gift to humanity
  • Remind yourself that the initial frustration of learning something new is normal and it can be overcome
  • Surround yourself with people that can give you positive support
  • Don’t lose faith

My father was resolute in his pledge to get better after his stroke and I know that your challenge, even though it is probably different, is just as significant. Don’t get discouraged, find your compass, and get up every day with a renewed commitment until you accomplish what you have set out to do. The ability of the brain to perform great feats is tucked deep within you and tenacity is all you need to activate it.

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Is it Worth It? (Spender vs Saver)

Is it Worth It? (Spender vs Saver)

By
Eva Fleming

Everyday people from many different cultural and social backgrounds and with different personalities come together to form one family. And it’s a beautiful thing. But, what happens when there’s a clash in values, particularly in the way you value money? Let’s talk about it.

A value is a force within you that will influence your life. Your attitudes about money will affect how you relate to it, to yourself and to others. Not all of us have strong financial values. And not all of us have the grace needed to deal with the partner in a relationship who has weak ones. Most commonly in a relationship, there is a spender and a saver. Each one pulling the financial rope in opposite directions. The spender wants to enjoy a high quality of life with all the comforts of the here and now, while the saver wants to feel financially secure, sacrificing comfort for financial security.
This dance can quickly turn into a tug of war because their different views of money can cause hostility between them.

Some couples quickly realize that if they want their homes to be peaceful, they must learn how to compromise, learn and make it work. Understanding all the while that it’s never easy, but with work and cooperation, they can pull through. Other couples never catch on to the pitfalls of financial disagreements and allow these arguments over money to become frequent and endless because, in the end, it’s not about the expense itself but about what money means to each of them.

These fights instead of solving the problem, merely widen the distance between the couple. They continue to argue incessantly, and the more a couple bickers about money, especially if more than once a week, the higher the possibility that they will end up divorced. Not even diverging political views can cause havoc in a relationship the way different views of money can.

There comes a critical moment in which couples that disagree with how to handle their finances must decide if they are going to continue fighting or if they are going to establish parameters in these areas of their lives and be amicable as they work through their differences.

What can you do when you become stuck in the vortex of financial disagreements?

When an argument about money arises, don’t allow your disagreements to turn into a deadly battle, where one loses and the other wins. On the contrary, acknowledge that the argument the other person is making has as much validity as yours does. Give their case the same consideration and respect that you give your own.

Establish firm boundaries with the help of a third person, if necessary, and commit to trying to understand what that need to spend or save means for the person you love.

If you are the spender, grow your character by learning to delay instant gratification. If you are the saver, be more flexible in the things you are willing to spend money on for the sake of the relationship. Can’t come to an agreement? Here are some tips on how to tell if something’s worth buying.

In the end, your relationship is worth more than gold and no disagreement is worth the emotional toll that all the fighting brings. Learn to value each other above all.

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

The Cycle of Debt

The Cycle of Debt

By
Eva Fleming

Did you know that the national household debt in the U.S. is a whopping 13 trillion dollars? To help you put that in perspective, keep in mind that a trillion has twelve zeroes in it! In the words of Dave Ramsey, “debt is as American as apple pie, but certainly not as sweet.” Even though most of us have it, none of us really want it. I had a debt from a hospital stay that took me two years to pay off. And this is after decent medical coverage!

Some of our debt is the result of unexpected expenses that end up on our credit cards because we didn’t plan for them in our emergency fund. But other debt is the result of our wants and desires and things we just had to have, but never actually made provisions for in our budget.

If we want to break free from debt, we must learn to make the distinction between those two types of unbudgeted expenses and learn to plan for them seriously. One requires that we put effort into beefing up our emergency fund and the other one requires that we become more disciplined with our budget.

Emergencies are part of life. If you think your life will be smooth sailing without any setbacks, e.g., leaking roof or car repairs, then you are living in a fantasy world.

I live in Florida, where hurricane season starts in June and doesn’t end until November 30th. To survive those months, residents must have a contingency plan that answers questions like: What are we going to do in the event of a hurricane? Where are we going to evacuate if the storm is expected to be a category 5? What do I need to have in hand if I decide to stay home (water bottles, water for flushing the toilet, generators, candles, medicine, batteries, can foods, etc.), When are we going to install the shutters? What will I do with my pet? It’s important to plan every minor detail to keep the family safe and minimize any harm to the house or personal possessions, etc.

There are no always hurricanes in Florida, but one must always be prepared just in case. Readiness will help you sleep in peace with the least amount of anxiety possible. This is the kind of mentality we must have to succeed financially. The more prepared you are for what’s most likely coming, the fewer chances you’ll use your credit cards to get you out of trouble when those things do happen.

We must also keep in mind that the human spirit with all its wants and desires is nearly impossible to satisfy. In the mall I frequent, there are big signs everywhere that read: “Desire It,” “Deserve it,” “Acquire it.” All these signs invite you to satiate your desires even if it is beyond your means to do so because after all, you “deserve it.” In a world like that, without a budget and the willingness to stick to it, you are not going to be very successful staying out of debt. Here’s a budget sheet that can help you get started.

If you are amid crushing debt, seek help from the experts like Dave Ramsey among others, and follow their recommendations to pay off your current debts. Beyond that, try to develop the discipline needed to improve your emergency fund and make a firm commitment to stick to your budget and you will see how little by little, debt will no longer be an issue for you.

For our children’s sake and the future of our children’s children, let’s break the chains of debt. Let’s no longer allow our circumstances and desires to keep us slaves to debt. This new year commit to do your part to shrink those 12 zeroes from the trillion dollars that are currently strangling our economy. Let’s end our addiction to debt once and for all. Here’s a helpful resource that can help you cut expenses and avoid getting into more debt.

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

5 Things You’re Paying for, You Should Cancel, Stop Buying, and Start Doing to Help You Pay Off Debt

5 Things You’re Paying for, You Should Cancel, Stop Buying, and Start Doing to Help You Pay Off Debt

By
Sarah Pichardo

If you’re like me, you’re probably paying for stuff you don’t even use. Well, maybe not like me cause after writing this I canceled stuff and rearranged my life. So I’m already one step ahead of you…catch up!

Here are those five things you should cancel, stop buying and start doing. Then take all that cash you saved to help pay off debt (and maybe buy a new pair of shoes).

Cable
Do you actually watch all 500 channels that you’re paying for? If you do, we need to sit and talk so I can report you to science. But chances are, you’re not. Matter of fact, you probably only have HBO right now cause you’re waiting for the last season of Game of Thrones to come out. Well, keep waiting and keep paying. Or you could be smart and cancel cable now, then just get the online subscription to HBO for when it comes out and cancel it again. It’s totally legit. I checked. Also, you’re probably just binge watching Netflix shows. Cable = $100+/month. Netflix = $10/month. So why are you paying for cable again?

Unused subscriptions
Do you really need Apple Music, Spotify and Satellite radio? At some point in my life I thought all three were absolutely necessary. I have regained my senses. You should do the same.

What other subscriptions are you paying for because you mostly like to throw money away? Don’t be like this kid, you might need those pair of shoes that are going on sale next week.

Buying lunch
Not only will buying lunch everyday cause you to gain 50 pounds and therefore ruin your New Year’s Resolutions, but it also costs you mucho dinero. Don’t want to cook? Make yourself a sandwich. It’s easy. It’s cheap. Again, those shoes are going on sale next week.

Bottled water
Why do you hate planet Earth so much? It’s a pretty cool place to be. There’s oxygen and science-y things that let us live here. All that plastic from bottled water is bad. It’s killing the fishies. (Do you really want to kill the fishies?) You don’t need those plastic water bottles. Besides, now that you’re bringing your lunch to work every day, you can fill up a reusable water bottle too. Want filtered water? Get a water filter. Look at you saving the planet. Your mom will be so proud.

Excess groceries
Speaking of, can’t you just hear your sweet mami in your head right now…“Tantos niños muriéndose de hambre, y tu aquí desperdiciando la comida.” (So many children dying of hunger, and you’re just here wasting food.) Shame on you. I’m telling your mom! How many times have you bought stuff and ended up throwing it away cause it went bad? It’s pretty sad. Not even my dog wants it. How about planning your meals ahead of time, writing a list, checking it twice? But, don’t forget the snacks.

mami-quote-desperdicando-la-comida-2

There you have it. If anything, after reading this, three things are very clear. First, I need to talk to your mom. Second, you should check out this blog so you can get real advice about ways to pay off debt. And last but not least, I just saved you a bunch of money and now you don’t have an excuse to not get me a birthday present.

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Sarah Pichardo is the Creative Director at Family Bridges. When she’s not obsessing over pixels, designs and scripts – or brainstorming plans to take over the world – she’s probably reading a book or overdoing it with the Christmas decorations.
Follow her on…

Twitter: @sarahp726
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahp726/

For more resources on professional development and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

The Only 2 Budgeting Tips You’ll Ever Need!

The Only 2 Budgeting Tips You’ll Ever Need!

By
Sarah Pichardo

Adulting sucks. You wake up, go to work, go home, sleep, eat and repeat. And then that glorious day comes where you get paid and you’re all like, “hallelujah, I’m about to make it rain.” Only to have the rug pulled from under you by those things called bills. And do you know why? Because 5-10-15-20 years ago you were sitting in your parent’s house thinking, one day I’m going to be my own boss, make my own rules and do whatever I want. Yeah. Congratulations. You got what you wished for. You’re an adult and there’s no turning back no matter how hard you try.

But it’s ok. Cause you’re a pretty fantastic adult. You go to work and maybe even have a family that you love and are nice to. You do a good deed every now and again, you give some money to charity and you call your mom once a week (BTW – did you call your mom this week? Get on it. She’s probably worried sick about you; it doesn’t matter that you’re 30 or 50 for that matter. Remember, family first.) Where was I? Oh yeah – you’re pretty good at this adulting thing.

And now, you’re thinking to yourself, It’s New Years. It’s that time of year where I’m going to make changes. Good changes. Changes that will make me a better person. And you wrote those down. You made some amazing resolutions. Didn’t you? Resolutions that you’re going to stick to…for real this time. And of course on top of that list is…(drum roll please)… making a budget and sticking to it. Because on top of being an amazing adult, you’re also a responsible adult. Bam! Plus, like your abuelita always said “a pobre viene, quien gasta más de lo que tiene.” (You’ll end up poor if you spend more than you have. Except it rhymes in Spanish and sounds way wiser and abuelita-like.)

media-AbuelitaQuote-tips-for-sticking-to-budget

Anyway, enough about your grandma. So, what are those two budgeting tips? Brace yourselves; they’re life-changing…

media-Steps-tips-for-sticking-to-budget

Step 1: Make a Budget

Step 2: Stick to It!

Tada. So easy. We’re done here.

Seriously. Why do we need to make adulting so hard on ourselves? Life is hard enough. But fine. If you want more on how to make a budget, or on how to save money, check out this blog and use this budget sheet. Otherwise just follow the budgeting tips I so generously gave you. They totally work.

Like I said, easy peasy. Tell your abuelita I said hi and “bendición”.

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Sarah Pichardo is the Creative Director at Family Bridges. When she’s not obsessing over pixels, designs and scripts – or brainstorming plans to take over the world – she’s probably reading a book or overdoing it with the Christmas decorations.

Follow her on…

Twitter: @sarahp726

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahp726/

 

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Where Did all the Money Go? Making a Budget

Where Did all the Money Go? Making a Budget

By
Eva Fleming

A budget is just a plan for your money. But as simple as this definition might be, the actual task of creating a budget might be daunting for some, yet necessary if we want to be able to go on vacation, pay off our debts or save for retirement.

When I don’t keep track of something as simple as my grocery bill, my budget is shot, and life unravels!  I don’t know what it is about that section of gourmet cheeses in the grocery store that makes me lose all common sense and run up my bill mercilessly.

So, before you put pen to paper to start jotting down your income vs. expenses and making your budget plan for the year or the month, ask yourself: What is your motivation to spend less than you make? Why are you putting yourself through this rigorous exercise of self-control? Once you understand your reasons, walk in your mind to the end of the road called Budgeting and imagine where you have ended up. Then ask yourself, “how does having a few extra dollars in my savings account feel like because I stuck to my budget?” If you like the thought of freedom, then commit to make a budget and stick to it.

If you are a not a saver by nature, budgeting will not be easy for you. Those of us who like nice things and the comforts life has to offer can hardly be blamed when we run out and get the things we want or upgrade everything we have every opportunity we get. After all, we are living in a society that is continually pushing their wares on us. “What can I say? I like shoes. What is a girl to do if TJ Max has a sale on shoes?”  But just like an alcoholic take it one day at a time, you too need to take it one day at a time when living on a budget. Don’t go shopping unless you need to. Don’t spend that extra money on another pair of shoes unless you have accounted for it in your budget. Find something fulfilling and productive to do instead of shopping or overspending money on leisure.

In my journey to budgeting, my husband and I have had to give up cable TV. That was hard because I really like Outlander and Better Call Saul. But I don’t think that ten years from now those shows are going to make a difference in my life, so we’ve sacrificed and found something more productive with which to fill our time. I have taken up running and volunteering at my kids’ school.  I can testify that both activities are more satisfying than any show cable TV has to offer. Our family is much more united than ever. And because we’re not looking at the TV, but rather at each other, my spouse and I have rekindled the spark in our marriage.

There are many budgeting tools on the Internet you can get to help you. Your bank also most likely has a budgeting feature they offer to you for free. Family Bridges teaches workshops that can help you budget wisely.

But before you download your favorite budgeting tool, think about your long-term goals, then write down your weaknesses and account for each of them in your plans. And finally, make your budget and put it on a visible spot in the house where all can see it.

A detailed plan for your income and expenses in a given period is right to have.  Here’s a budget sheet you can use. Don’t be scared to tell your money where to go. You got this!


For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

A Latina Trailblazer: from Education to Construction

A Latina Trailblazer: from Education to Construction

The inspirational story of a successful Latina entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry.

By
Veronica Avila

“This is your new country. You are free. You can accomplish anything you want, except become the president of the United States. And always remember, never compromise your ethics. Those were the words 10-year-old Edith de la Cruz heard from her father Romualdo De la Cruz, when they arrived from Guatemala to the US in 1975.

From an early age, Edith was encouraged by her father to stay focused and work hard to reach her goals. So, she did. Edith received her degree in Psychology and began working as an ESL Teacher in Berwyn, IL where she saw a great need for bilingual teachers.

One day, while having a conversation with other parents about their kids and college, she realized she wasn’t financially prepared to send her kids off to college. She panicked for a moment but was determined to find a way to start working towards that goal. A friend of hers, a developer, introduced her to the idea of “flipping” properties; if she invested in a foreclosed property, she’d be able to fix it and sell it. That was an “aha” moment for Edith. The problem was that she didn’t know much about the business, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her. She knew a little about carpentry and was ready to learn the rest. Her friend offered to teach her the ropes of the business, as soon as he came back from his 4th of July break.

A self-starter, Edith couldn’t wait, so she drove off to seek properties; foreclosed, boarded up houses, anything that had the potential for a “flip.” She found a 3-story flat with a sign that read “Fast-track demolition auction for July 5th.” With only a couple of days left before the auction, she sought counsel from realtors that could help her meet the requirements of the city to bid. After a long search, she finally found someone who could help. So, into court, she went. She was able to become the defendant of the property vs. the city. But now, the court required that she make the needed repairs to the building in 120 days before they would allow her to purchase it. So, she got to work. She fixed all the required repairs and sent her attorney pictures.

The phone call finally came in with a, “You should do this full-time.” She received the approval to purchase it. She flipped it, sold it, and she liked the feeling of it. She did it! So, she began her journey as a general constructor on the side. In 2005, Antigua Construction was incorporated and since then has been a minority woman-owned business. If you’re interested in starting up a small business, check out our Micro Enterprise program.

In 2005, she left the education field to dedicate all her time and efforts into her new construction business, Antigua Construction. Unfortunately, in 2007 the market began to decline, and she had to sell a couple of properties. That didn’t stop her. She was determined to immerse herself in the business of becoming a General Contractor. She took every class she found to become a certified general contractor. She learned, applied for the certifications, and worked tirelessly to obtain them. Today she is certified by the General Services Administration (GSA), Small Business Administration (SBA), Minority and Women-Owned Business Certification Program (M/WBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (DBE), National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS), and Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB).

She began looking for what she describes as the “starving artist opportunity.” Started knocking on doors, all of them, to find the opportunity that would allow her to start up as a contractor.

After following up persistently, a major contractor asked her, “What do you want?” Edith confidently responded, “I am the Persistent Widow.” He replied with another question, “Are you a widow?” Edith referred him to the biblical reference of the persistent widow. He was silent for a moment, then agreed to work with her. She received her first project of $3,000, then a second, and then another. He gave her the opportunity, and Antigua Construction began to grow.

In 2010, she went on vacation to visit her father. Upon her return, the bank that had been her lender for years called to inform her that they would be cutting all lines of credit to small businesses. It was a tough time. Closing the business crossed her mind. As a woman of faith, she asked God for a sign if she was to keep Antigua open. Minutes later, she received a text from a friend in office expressing his support. Then, if in doubt, she received a random call from someone who wanted to let her know what she would be referring her business to federal decision-makers on construction. That was the sign! Edith regained her composure and was ready to move forward with her business.

The road hasn’t been easy. Edith has faced adversity and challenges in a man-dominated industry ‘til this day. But that hasn’t stopped her. On the contrary, it fuels her determination to continue moving forward by sticking to her goals. She has faced the challenges of seeing people she entrusted and who she thought would be her biggest supporters, fail her, mock her, and ultimately hurt her. Fortunately, she’s also had good people by her side who encouraged her to let go and move forward. Following her dad’s counsel of looking at life as if in a car, “The windshield is wide and you must focus on driving forward. The rearview mirror serves one purpose, to quickly glance back and then continue to look forward.” And that is what she continues to do with any storm that comes along the way.

Let’s talk family. Edith is a single mom of 3 kids, Bryan, Joshua, and Viviana – who have graciously seen their mother working 24/7 while also staying involved in their lives and their education. It hasn’t been easy. There was a point in her life when her children pulled her to the side asking to regain their mom back from Antigua. Fortunately, and not surprisingly, they found a way to make it work. They agreed to leave all technology, including social media, out of their house to have a healthy work-life balance. Fridays became family nights when one of the kids would choose food and activities. Edith values her family enormously and continues to have a strong bond with them. They’re also all involved in the business in some capacity.

She shared a funny anecdote with us, “I wanted my kids to speak Spanish well, so I encouraged them to study abroad. My son Bryan went to Spain for a semester, then came back saying he wanted to go back.” The reality was that while he studied in Spain, he met someone special. Edith wanted him here, plus the plan was that he would be joining the business. Fast forwarding, “On April 1st, he invited us to brunch and told me that he was going to get married in Spain. I laughed, it was a great April Fool’s day joke.” He wasn’t joking. He later married and now is pursuing a Master’s in Kinesiology. Her other son, Joshua, is also a part of the business, handling all on-the-field matters, and her daughter Viviana is pursuing a degree in Business Administration, while she gets hands-on experience at Antigua.

Edith de la Cruz is undoubtedly a Latina Destacada. She is a successful Latina entrepreneur in the construction business, with significant city and Tollway contracts. She has a strong family bond which she and her children continue to nurture, and she is an example and inspiration to single moms and minorities. Edith shows us that if you’re determined and committed, you can accomplish anything.

For more resources on professional development and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

5 Steps to Tell if Something is Really Worth Spending Money on

5 Steps to Tell if Something is Really Worth Spending Money on

Contributed by
Sarah Pichardo

Do you lay awake at night wondering if a purchase is worth it? Like do you really need it or is it going to make its way into someone else’s home via Goodwill. Let’s take the guesswork out of it. Here are five handy-dandy steps to follow in order to find out if something is really worth it.

Step 1: Sing Missy Elliot’s Song, “Is it Worth it”

Is it worth it? Let me work it. I put thing down flip it and reverse it.

Step 2: Ask Yourself, Is it Worth it?

Now that you have that song stuck in your head, keep asking yourself, is it really worth it?

Step 3: Talk to your Bank Account

Hey, money talks so talk back to it. How does your wallet feel about this expenditure? Do you even have money in your wallet or is it begging for mercy?

Step 4: Talk to your Spouse or Phone a Friend

Talk to your spouse about it. Especially if it’s a major purchase where you’ll be spending money from a joint account. Let’s not start World War 3 in your house cause you didn’t communicate. Not worth it. Not married? Phone a friend. Tell ‘em your hopes and dreams. What do they think? Also, make sure you phone the responsible friend not the crazy one. You know which one I’m talking about.

Step 5: Ask Yourself, What Would Abuelita Do?

Your abuelita is a smart woman. She pays in cash and thinks credit cards are for necios. And, si no tienes el dinero, no lo compres. (If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it). Please refer to Step 3.

AbuelitaQuote-si-no-tienes-el-dinero-no-lo-compres

You did it. You went through all 5 steps. Pour yourself a glass a wine. Now make a decision. If it’s really worth it, your spouse is cool with it, you have the money and your abuelita gives you a thumbs up, then you should be good to go. If not, then it’s probably not worth it.

You’re still here? Still don’t know if you should buy it? Use this flowchart:

should-you-buy-it-flowchart

Habits: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Habits: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Contributed by
Eva Fleming

It took me a long time to get up in the morning, lace up my shoes and go straight to the park for my daily three-mile walk. I have to be honest, at first, it was difficult, and I had to devote a lot of mental energy to this task, but with time it became much easier. Now,  if it’s raining or if I have an early appointment, I don’t quite know what to do with myself. I first began establishing this habit when my children were young, and I needed solo time to re-energize myself and gather my thoughts. Later it became imperative when the doctor diagnosed me with high blood pressure, and walking was the only alternative to medication.

We activate habits every day from the moment we get out of bed to the moment we go to bed.

Some habits are automatic. We wake up, we brush our teeth and practice good hygiene. It’s second nature.

Some habits we work very hard to establish. I love to read. For me, it would be easy to only read for pleasure. I could spend all day reading how-to articles on keeping my house organized and making healthy homemade meals. While this is great, I know I also need to read for professional reasons. One of the most challenging habits I had to develop, was learning to read research literature pertaining to my field. But after doing it over and over, I no longer dread it and instead seek out this literature on a daily basis.

Some habits we want to get rid of. I have made up my mind to get rid of gossip. By so doing, I’m also not allowing negative people to invade my space.

Old habits are hard to break. Through my experience what I can tell you for sure is that old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form. But through the endless repetition of failures and successes, it’s possible to establish and maintain new habits.

Why form new habits? Why not just keep procrastinating and living life without discipline? Neuroscientists have traced our habit of changing behaviors to one part of the brain and our decision-making process to a different part. But as soon as behaviors become automatic, the decision making part of the brain goes into sleep mode, if you will.

Researchers from Duke University have shown that 40% of what we do is determined not by decisions but by habits. Can you imagine being able to perform specific tasks automatically without giving it a second thought, freeing space in our brain for more productive living? That’s what good habits do. Good daily habits energize us; bad habits drain us. That is the absolute reality.  

Start making small changes today, so that when you’re 75 years old, you can wake up healthier and happier because of the good habits you implemented today.

The key to good habit forming is planning and taking it one step at a time. Plan what you want to do differently, put it in your calendar and fulfill that promise to yourself. Make small, manageable steps towards the goals you are trying to reach. People that try to do it all in one day are rarely successful. I started walking half a mile a day. It was what I could manage physically and emotionally at the time. But I kept doing it and slowly started adding a few more steps to my daily walk. I have friends that are runners and can do 10 miles a day, I admire them, but I don’t envy them. I do what I can, and I insist on being consistent. Success is better achieved through small daily changes that are repeated over time. So whether you want to stop procrastinating, biting your nails, smoking, snacking incessantly, recurring to gossip, or beating yourself down with negativity, start small by doing it less and less until you achieve success.  

Our habits hold great influence over how we think, act and feel. We are the result and sum of our habits so don’t put it off any longer, invest in yourself. You are worth it.

What new habits would you like to establish? Which would you like to get rid of?  Let us know in the comments section below.

For more tips on life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

“Adulting” 101 – Why asking Why is important

“Adulting” 101 – Why asking Why is important

Contributed by
Eduardo Morales

As I get older and evaluate my life, I see that our 20’s has a lot of influence on how the next stages of our lives will be shaped. Why? Because our 20’s bring a lot of transition: High School to College, College to Career and Career and other Career, Singleness to Dating, (then maybe like in my case, single again several times over), then Marriage and quite possibly the Baby Carriage. But this is really a time to learn about you, see the world, experience friendships. These life experiences are some that are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. These are the memories that will turn into the good ol’ days. And truthfully, if we aren’t careful, these years can just fly by, unless we are intentional about setting a vision and living with purpose.

It is so important to have a vision for your life. Without a vision, you might be busy doing things, but you could be busy doing things without a point. The idea is to have a purpose and intention in what you do. So what do you really want to do with your life? Why am I doing what I currently am doing?

These are the questions I have been asking myself in a time of transition. As I am asking and evaluating, I think a good question to ask is “Why?” For most of us, when we were younger, we constantly bugged our parental figures with the questions of why. “Why does this happen?” “Why do you do that?” “Why this?” “Why that?” Yeah, it can get annoying, but I have found that asking ourselves the Why questions, allows us to answer and clearly explain to ourselves, why we are doing what we are doing.

For a few years now, I have been wearing a number of different hats, gaining a lot of great experience. I believe the quickest way to find our sweet spot is wearing different hats and finding out what we like and don’t like. However, it’s in these experiences that you evaluate whether or not this is something you want to continue dedicating yourself to. Knowing where you stand and where you want to go – that’s having a vision. When you have a direction of where you want to go with your life, spiritual walk, your marriage, your career, you can better determine what things you currently do in your life or might come across your path in the future, that will either benefit you or hinder you.

Here are a few practical ideas that can guide you through this vision-setting process.

Look at what you’re passionate about and how you’re wired. When you start to see some common threads in your life or overlapping interests and assess your skills, this might be a good mix of information to help guide you as to what you want to invest your life into in the years ahead. So what are you good at, what are you not-so-good at? What’s your story? Are there positions you continuously find yourself in or others elect you to? Use these questions as guides in developing a vision for yourself.

Take time to breathe.A common question in interviews is where do you see yourself in 5 years? Sometimes we can be so busy plowing in the fields that we lose focus on why we even starting tilling in the first place. It’s important to take time to remind and refocus, or else, it is easy for us to get drained and suffer from burn-out. Even more so, we might find ourselves in a position where we lost the vision.

Write it out! I believe we are more apt to follow through with a goal or an idea when we write it down and keep it visible for us to see. Just like scripture, if we embed it in our hearts, if we meditate on it day and night, it will become a part of us. The reality is that we tend to forget and when we forget we lose focus. Having a visual reminder continues to keep us focused and helps combat our forgetfulness.

Ask yourself the Why’s? Ask yourself (and ask others close to you to ask you), the tough questions. It is not always about looking for the advice or opinion, but allowing mentors, or your core supports, to ask you questions that will get you thinking and seeing things from another perspective. Everyone has an opinion and advice that could be easy to give and easy to find. Plus you can search around until you find someone that fits what you’re looking for and that might not always be the best thing.

When thinking about leaving your mark on your culture, your world, your church, your neighborhood, your family, it starts with a vision. Learning more about you, your skills, your passions should help guide you in understanding your purpose. When you start living on purpose, that breeds confidence, because you’re in your element. Taking time to process this for yourself, in all the areas of life you’re involved in, will help you develop vision. So be like a little toddler for a moment and ask yourself the “Why’s?” I think you’ll find yourself developing a decision-making style that is more visionary than circumstantial.

Do you have a vision and purpose for your life? Share with us your experience in the comments section below.

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