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Learning, Earning and Returning: The 3 Stages of a Fulfilling Life

Your success can be the catalyst for the success of others, and that is the most satisfying success of all.

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I attend many networking meetings, frequent educational seminars and conferences. I am a member of the Miami Young Presidents Organisation and other business groups which promote business learning and networking.

With 30 years of the above experience, just last week I attended a conference and heard an expression which will have an everlasting impact on my life personally and professionally. The speaker, an accomplished banker and philanthropist, told our business audience that you should break your life into thirds and live by the expression: Learning, Earning & Returning

Related: 12 Reasons Entrepreneurs With Type-A Personalities Are Unstoppable

I wish I was so profound and philosophical that I could have thought of this powerful expression – but I didn’t. However, I will share my own perspective plus the speaker’s thoughts on this mantra.

Learning

The first third of your life you should be learning. Learn in school, learn from mentors, read, become a sponge and absorb everything. Dedicate your early years to learning – both academically and in your everyday life. Challenge yourself and push yourself.

Having three children who currently range from middle school to college, I see how important education is. And yes, your study habits do start at a young age. The discipline to learn and to want to learn begins in grammar school (when colleges will not even look at your transcripts). My oldest is now currently a sophomore at the University of Michigan in the Ross Business School and I am truly envious of her and how much she is learning.  The foundation of her academics can only benefit her regardless of her ultimate job – and her passion to learn and succeed has become infectious to my younger children.

Regardless of which college you attend – or candidly, don’t attend, (if this path is not your calling), you can learn in many ways. Reading books, listening to audio books, attending free meetings, finding a mentor.

Of course, life is not fair. Some of us do have advantages (financial, contacts, etc) but that’s life. If you do not have these advantages, work harder and prove to yourself and others that you can overcome and persevere.

Earning

earning-money-working-for-a-living

The second third of your life is earning.

Work – odds are that you will be working to earn a living to support yourself and your family. Depending on your career choice and many other factors (too many to quote in this article), your annual compensation will vary. Find an industry you love and work hard to earn to your greatest potential.

Without sounding naïve, earning money is very important to sustain our quality of life, the basics of course and some luxuries of affordability. Whether you are earning until retirement and beyond, the quality of your work for both financial and personal reasons is immeasurable.

Returning

The third part of your life is Returning.

When the speaker first mentioned “Returning,” I didn’t understand in which context it was being used. Did Returning mean going back to your town to really understand your roots and where you came from? Did it mean returning to your childhood friends and re-establishing those lost relationships? The speaker used Returning in a philanthropic way – whether you earn $50,000 or $500,000 annually or anything in between, the latter years of your life should be returning to help those less fortunate.

Related: Personal Branding Pitfalls Women Should Avoid

Yes, the gift of giving should start in your younger years. As we mature, (I just turned 50 a few months ago, so I guess that means I’m either more mature now or just getting old), I do “get it” regarding helping those less fortunate. It’s not just about giving money. It’s about getting involved. There are many great causes – business related, family-related, religious and otherwise. Pick one close to your heart and contribute whether it be with your money, or your time – or both.

Entrepreneur is a business magazine, so allow me to spend a few minutes on the relationship between  business and philanthropy. Doing the right thing is always the “golden rule” – but it’s amazing how getting involved in a cause will also positively affect your business.

Don’t join an organisation with the sole purpose of exploiting relationships. Do it for “returning” and you will enjoy generous “returns” on your investment. Over time, you will develop authentic relationships with like-minded people who hold similar passions for a specific charity.

Remembering

And in closing, please indulge my poetic license. How about adding “remembering” as the fourth mantra to the previous three already discussed.

Yes, remembering where we came from, remembering who helped us along the way, and remembering our responsibility and obligation to the past.

Enjoy these simple, yet powerful expressions and remind yourself that these words and more importantly, their meanings, are a great platform to live the remainder of your life.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Jeff Shavitz is the CEO of TrafficJamming, a virtual membership group for business owners and entrepreneurs comprised of many business services to help drive customers to their companies. He is a serial entrepreneur who has has written four business books including “Size Doesn’t Matter – Why Small Business is BIG Business” which hit #1 on Amazon. Contact him at 800-878-4100.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

What You Put In Is What You Get Out – Create Your Own Success

The secret to curating a successful life starts with what you put in.

Allon Raiz

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You are what you eat, the saying goes. Your physical and even mental health are highly dependent on what you eat (or consume) daily. There are four fundamental factors of a system:  Input, boundaries, purpose and output. All systems are mostly defined by the combination of these four factors.

A professional athlete will be very diligent about what they consume in order to achieve the best possible outcome, and sprinters will have different guides and regimes to marathon runners. Essentially, high performing athletes curate their input, or design their own lives, to produce a favourable output.

The same is true of the high-performance entrepreneur — they too should be curating their input, not just in terms of what they consume through their mouths but more importantly, what they consume with their ears and eyes.

Related: For Shatty Mashego Success Lies In Maintaining A Positive Mindset

Positive inputs

A few years ago, I began to recognise that even though I might wake up in a good space in the morning, by 10am I would be feeling negative regardless of my daily practices. I had already established the discipline of recording and recognising my successes daily, as well as repeating daily affirmations and visualisations, yet within a few hours of starting my day, I found myself in a negative space.

I couldn’t figure out what was causing this; but after some analysis I realised that my daily routine included listening to talk radio on the way to work, catching up with the news on Twitter before my first meeting, and reading the morning paper which was neatly laid out on my desk. It quickly became clear that my negativity could be attributed to my over-consumption of bad news.

Each communication platform — from Twitter to the radio — has the power to depress anyone who consumes its news, but the combination of all three was toxic to me. It affected my mood, concentration and, invariably, my output. In a single decision, I eliminated these three platforms from my daily ‘diet’ and instead curated a different morning experience to see whether it would change the output. Instead of the radio, I decided to listen to either music or an audiobook; instead of Twitter, I decided to call a friend; and I didn’t renew my newspaper subscription.

The results were instantaneous. This experiment set me on a mission to see what else I could deliberately curate and design, so I began to strategically design my life to inform the successful and positive output that I desired. I subscribed to online newsletters that were informative and thought-provoking, such as Brain Food by Shane Parish; I cajoled my management team to begin listening to audiobooks at the same time that I was doing so to ensure that we included positive discussions in our bi-monthly meetings; and I ensured that there were always three litres of water in my immediate surrounds to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Create your own success

In case you haven’t experienced the lightbulb moment yet, the simple explanation is this: All systems have inputs and outputs, and the quality of the input results in the quality of the output.

If you see yourself as the curator of your input and as the architect of your environment, you can start to create the inputs, set the boundaries and define purposes to result in the output that commands entrepreneurial success.

Related: Daily Practices for Cultivating a Positive Work Culture to Support Your Business

If something really affects the quality of your life — whether it’s your attitude, your mood or the clarity of your thought processes — it’s time to relook the design and start to curate an environment that is conducive to your success.

And, if you’re concerned about missing out on what’s happening, always remember that, if a news report or update has a direct impact on your life, the chances are high that you will hear it through your friends and family.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

Decrease the amount of noise in your head.

Nina Zipkin

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Accomplishing a goal can be hard work. But even if a project is something you are passionate about and want to complete, distractions such as social media, doubts and other tasks can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on it. Don’t fret. We’re here to help.

Check out these eight steps to help you prioritise and clear your mind.

1. Stop multitasking

Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work – like checking emails – and then move onto to the harder things, you should try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with with a bigger, more creative endeavor first thing.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

2. Block out your days

A good way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to quieting the noise all around you is to specifically block out time in your day – maybe it’s 30 minutes or an hour – to spend on a given project.

Colour code your calendar or set a timer to make sure you are accomplishing the goal at hand.

3. Get your blood pumping

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You can’t focus if your are stuck inside and staring at a screen all day long. Turn off your computer and phone, and go for a walk for 20 minutes. The fresh air and the movement will clear your head. Also make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest.

4. Help your technology help you

A platform like RescueTime, a software that runs while you work and shows you how you are spending your day, could help you understand why something is taking longer to complete than it should. Options like Cold TurkeyFreedom and Self Control block out the internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines.

5. Meditate

Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone get some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made SimpleCalm and Headspace.

For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win

6. Change up what’s in your headphones

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While background noise might help block out a loud office or construction outside your window, you need to be careful that what you are listening to isn’t distracting you more.

Music with lyrics can sap your focus from the task in front of you, so consider trying classical or electronic music instead. Or use a playlist that is familiar to you, so you aren’t tempted to turn all your attention to the new sound.

7. Streamline your communication

If you find that all of your focus gets trained on getting your inbox down to zero, think about how you can get yourself out from under a relentless deluge of email. Ask yourself and your colleagues to think about whether this conversation would be most effective through email, on the phone or in person.

Taking five minutes to walk over to someone else’s workspace will save you the time and energy invested into a redundant email chain and clarify how you want to attack a problem more quickly.

Related: 7 Steps To Achieving Our Higher-Level Goals

8. Find an environment with the right kind of noise

To be the most effective, you need to strike a delicate balance between too much noise and total silence. According to David Burkus, an associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University, “some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation,” Burkus wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

“Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That’s why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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