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Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions of 2011

1 Jan



Photo: (I like)

Hope you had a fun time ringing in the New Year last night.  It’s now time to start thinking about your goals and resolutions for 2011.  Need inspiration?

Here are the most popular New Year’s resolutions of 2011 according to 43things.com, a social networking site built around the goals, to-do lists and bucket lists of its members.

Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions of 2011

1 ) Lose Weight

2 ) Be Happy

3 ) Save Money

4 ) Eat, Drink, Learn or Try Something New

5 ) Fall in Love

6 ) Get a Job

7 ) Set an Attainable Athletic Goal, Like Running a 5k or 10k

8 ) Read More

9 ) Take a Photo Every Day for a Year

10 ) Quit Smoking

What do you think of this year’s list?  Do any of them come as a surprise to you?  What are your resolutions for 2011?

Go Out and Celebrate the End of 2010

31 Dec

Photo: (Timothy K. Hamilton)

Go out and celebrate the end of 2010.

It’s a Friday night and it’s the perfect way to end the first decade of the new millennium.

Don’t worry about what you did or did not accomplish this past year.

Don’t worry about what your New Year’s resolutions are for 2011.

We’ll get to that later this weekend.

You’ll have plenty of time to recover and rejuvenate to start your year off STRONG!

Happy New Year!

Don’t Ever Stop Persisting

29 Dec

Flickr Photo: (Dustin Diaz)

Monday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”

Tuesday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”

Wednesday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”

Thursday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”

Friday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”

Saturday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”

Sunday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”

I walk past a newspaper vendor every single day.  I suspect he is homeless as he is hawking Streetwise, a magazine for impoverished men and women to sell for profit through becoming a vendor.

He stands at the ideal corner, which happens to be the intersection of three busy Chicago streets, the entrance to the “L” platform (Chicago’s subway train) and directly in front of Starbucks.  Hundreds, if not, thousands of people pass by the vendor every day.

He’s dramatically improved his physical appearance recently, to the point where I only recognized him by his voice.  He used to look like a cross between a pirate and a motorcycle gang-leader, with long brown hair and a full beard.  With short hair and a trimmed mustache, he now looks more like the construction worker from the Village People.

After a year of walking past the man, I have never seen a single person buy a magazine, buy him a coffee from the adjacent Starbucks or give him any change.  My only point of reference that he might actually sell the magazines is when I saw him unloading a huge stack of them from a mini van in the early morning and that he has looked healthier lately.

Regardless of my perception, he persists.

He persists through the harsh Chicago weather: torrential thunderstorms (or thunderf*cks as I like to call them as they pretty much destroy you, your clothes and your umbrella), blizzards, 100 degree heat, -10 degree wind chills and anything in between.

He persists through the painful and endless noise, not to mention the air pollution, from cars, trucks, buses and trains.

He persists through the potential hazards of huge dogs biting him, baby strollers running over him and hipster bikes running into him.

Worst of all, he persists through the mental anguish of seeing the same morning rush of commuters religiously drop $5 at Starbucks on their way to the train every single day.  The same group of people who barely acknowledge his existence with a “no thanks” while trying to avoid eye contact.

Amazingly enough, he persists: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”

He even switches his message up for the weekend: “Streetwise? Have a Wonderful and Blessed Weekend!”

Or even the holidays: “Streetwise? Have a Blessed New Year!”

I don’t know how he does it.  I thought I suffered cold-calling 50-100 people per day in my previous role as a commercial real estate broker.  At the time, I thought that I tried as hard as I could and persisted as much as I could day in and day out.

Upon reflection, and when compared to a less fortunate individual’s daily struggle, I realize I can ALWAYS try harder and persist even more.

All us can.

Productivity Challenge: Break Your Email Addiction

28 Dec

Photo: (Esparta)

What’s the first thing you do upon waking?

Take a shower?  Make coffee?  Eat breakfast?

Perhaps, but probably not.

Most of us check our work email on our Blackberry or similar mobile device.

Is email that important that we have to read it as soon as we open our eyes?  No, it’s not.

Does your profession require that you are on-call 24/7?  If yes, you’re probably a doctor with an emergency pager or a plumber with an emergency hotline number.  Otherwise, the answer is no.

Furthermore, do you really want to start your day thinking about your boss or your coworkers while you’re: in the shower (not recommended)? sipping hot coffee? eating bacon? stuck in traffic?

Productivity Challenge: Break Your Email Addiction
Try going through an entire week without checking your email until you arrive at the office.  If that’s too challenging for you, try not checking your email for the first 15 minutes after waking for a week. Increase by 15 minutes each week until you reach the full goal of not checking your email until you arrive at the office.

Instead of checking and worrying about your email, try showering in silence, reading a book, meditating or collecting your personal thoughts, listening to the crunch of your cereal or even enjoying smell of your fresh coffee just like a Folgers commercial.

Your mind needs this break to rejuvenate and discover.

Some discoveries to look forward to include: reduced stress, clearer thinking, deeper sleep, increased focus and creative.

Try it. Let us know what you’ve discovered.

What Key Projects Are You Working On?

27 Dec

Photo: (kharied)

I had the honor of being featured as the Warrior of the Week on 8pmWarrior this past weekend.

One of the questions Aaron Biebert asked of me is “What are you working on?”

I wrote down 5 key projects:

1) Day job

2) Firmology

3) PhilipNowak.com

4) My first book

5) Studying Russian

(In the interest of gratitude, you can read about the project details at 8pmWarrior.)

No thought was required.  Writing the list took a matter of seconds.

No doubt.  No fear.  No hesitation.

These are the projects I’m working on right now.

Sure, there may be plenty of tasks on my to-do list on any given day, but most are supporting tasks that help move these projects forward.

I may also update my bucket list weekly with new things that I’d like to accomplish, but these are the 5 key projects that I’ve chosen to focus on right now.

What key projects are you working on?  If it takes you a while to answer, maybe these aren’t the projects you should be spending your time on.  If you don’t have an answer, what exactly ARE you spending (or wasting) your time on?

Have a Very Merry and Patient Christmas

25 Dec

Photo: (Tony the Misfit)

Have you lost your temper yet?

Don’t.

Stay patient, no matter how overwhelming your friends and family are this Christmas.

It’s hard.

They just G R I N D on you.

“You’re too fat.”

“You’re too skinny.”

“That’s a stupid career choice.”

“When are you getting married?”

“ARE you getting married?”

“When are you having kids?”

“Money isn’t important.”

Sound familiar?

Take a deep breath, multiple times if you have to.

Avoid the petty arguments about the turkey being dry and the soup being cold.

You’ll only have to see them a few times, if not once, a year.

Lose your temper and that’s all they’ll remember about you for the ENTIRE year.

On their trip home, would you rather your family talk about how strong you are or how much of an a-hole you are?

Be strong.

Take the higher road.

Have a Very Merry and Patient Christmas!

Recipe: Strawberry Pineapple Banana Smoothie

24 Dec

Photo: (Zyllan)

There are many mornings when I wake up and just don’t feel like eating anything.  Unfortunately, skipping breakfast wreaks havoc on your body’s metabolism.  Here’s a lighter smoothie option for those days you really just want your coffee.

Recipe:

Strawberries (Buy the massive frozen pack from Costco to save money and defrost a handful at a time in the microwave.)
Pineapple (I buy frozen packs at Trader Joes and many times substitute for ice. Lots of vitamin c and provides anti-inflammatory properties.)
Banana (chockfull of potassium and takes the acidic edge off of the other fruit.)
Greek Yogurt (Vanilla flavored as the plain flavored is very bitter. Packs a huge amount of protein.)
Ice (Adds nice lighter consistency, especially as it melts.)
Whey Protein Powder (1 scoop of natural or vanilla flavored is about 20-30 grams of protein.)

I didn’t add exact measurements because it really is up to your taste preferences. There are days when I am in the mood for more pineapple and there are days when I prefer more bananas.

Is Your Snow Day a No Day?

23 Dec

Photo: (Leeni)

This past Tuesday marked the first day of winter.  The official arrival of winter also marks the unofficial arrival of the “snow day.”

What is the snow day?  The annual rite of making excuses to avoid work or school.  It’s an interesting phenomenon actually.  When it snows on the weekend, there are no excuses.  When it snows during the morning commute, all bets are off.

I arrived at our suburban office as usual, only to find my colleagues were shocked to see me.  Apparently, a sprinkling of snow during the morning commute had caused mass hysteria, even among those who have the option of taking the train.  Half of the team didn’t show up.

This isn’t anything new.  We were trained at an early age to avoid things we don’t like to do.

In grade school, I remember being really excited when school was cancelled.  I played video games all day.  When classes were cancelled in high school, I hung out with my friends at Old Orchard, an OUTDOOR shopping center.  In college, classes were never cancelled.  I skipped them anyway and ran errands, went shopping, had lunch with my friends and even went to the bar– all during the middle of a blizzard.

After graduating from college, everything changed.  I quickly realized that skipping work during bad weather was pointless.  Not only did I actually enjoy my job, but I also worked on commission.  I remember many times where I worked diligently in my office on days where we had in-climate weather.  I fully controlled my destiny, so I took my job seriously.  Years later, I am no longer working on commission, but I am still enjoying my job.

That’s the main point here.  I enjoy what I do and therefore:

Make no excuses.

Plan ahead.

Wake up earlier.

Take alternate modes of transportation.

Get work done in advance.

Find other things to do that have been pushed aside.

Is your snow day a no day?  If it is, you should reconsider what you do for a living.

Say Thank You to Your Bus Driver

22 Dec

Photo: (Oscar Juarez)

I greet my bus driver each day with a simple “hi” or “good morning” when I get on the bus and a “thank you” when I get off the bus.

It takes me a second.  I’m usually the only one.

Although some bus drivers may barely acknowledge me with a simple head nod, most smile and say “you’re welcome.”

Maybe the situation is different for me.  This specific bus route takes us several miles down the I-90 expressway, at over 50 mph, from the train station to our office.  None of the passengers have seat belts, some passengers are standing and the wind tends to knock the bus around on the highway.  Not an easy drive for the bus driver and I definitely don’t take it for granted.

Then again, I greet the bus drivers on the city routes as well.

Why do I even bother?

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  How would you feel if hundreds of different people boarded your bus each day and only a few bothered to even say hello.  That’s sad, so I say hello.

It only takes a second, but the feeling of happiness lasts a lot longer.

Try it sometime.

Are You Maximizing the Potential of Your Weekends?

18 Dec

Photo: (David Urbanke)

What are you doing this weekend?  Are you taking steps to move your life forward or are you sitting around complaining about everything?

What I’m doing this weekend
I’m advancing my health by going to the gym.
I’m improving my writing skills by blogging on PhilipNowak.com.
I’m working towards my goal of entrepreneurship with Firmology.com.
I’m writing another chapter to fulfill my goal of writing a book.
I’m attending a going-away party for a close friend who is moving to Singapore.
I’m helping decorate the Christmas tree at my parent’s house.
I’m studying Russian, so that I can better communicate with my girlfriend’s family.
I’m creating a zen-like environment by tidying up my home.

What I’m not doing this weekend
I’m not moping around the house after a long workweek.
I’m not drinking my night away only to do nothing the next day because I’m hung over.
I’m not complaining about the fact that my home is dusty and that I need to do three loads of laundry.
I’m not watching the Bulls game, although I’d love to sneak a peek at some point.
I’m not wasting away on my couch watching football all weekend long.
I’m not going to gorge on junk food, only to feel like I gained 5 pounds on Monday.
I’m not satisfied with the fact that I lost over 15 pounds in the last year and can now take a break from working out.

I’m doing my best to maximize the potential of my weekends.  Are you?

If nothing else, remember this:
Time is lost forever.  Are you satisfied with what you accomplish each day?