The #1 Reason to Start a Business

Money.  Entrepreneurial spirit.  Freedom.  Desire to create something out of nothing.

These are all common and completely legitimate reasons why people start businesses.

In fact, all of these are reasons why I started a business.  But you know what?  None of these is the main reason why.

And none of these is what inspires me every day.  None of them.  What does though?

My purpose.

To advance others through personal-growth education

You see, my business is a what to my why.  It’s a major way I activate my God-commanded calling.

As a small business marketing coach, I teach.  I teach entrepreneurs who desire the freedom of working for themselves.

I help advance them by increasing their marketing knowledge, which builds their confidence and ability to grow their businesses.  Their dream. Quite possibly their what to their own why.

I get paid to live out my purpose.  This is my driving force.  My inspiration.

Question: Why did you or would you start a business?

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The Secret To Living The Dream

Most of us who work work for someone.  Someone with entrepreneurial spirit.  Someone who values the freedom of working for them self.  A problem solver.  Someone with a dream.

Those of us who seek greater meaning to life, seek out our why or our place in the world.  A dream.

Those of us who make decisions today to benefit our children, even unborn children, seek the same thing.  A dream.

Somewhere in every business out there, someone is living the dream.  It may be the CEO.  It may be someone in the middle of the organization.  It may be the most junior person.

Someone you know is working to discover their purpose in life or place in it.  Perhaps it’s you.

Parents all around are sacrificing, exercising discipline and planning so their children may benefit.  Children they may not even have yet.

“Living the dream” is completely relative.  It has nothing to do with your position, title, age, gender, race, income, the automobile you drive, the size of your house or the type of coffee you drink.

“Living the dream” is state of mind.  A perception of one’s world and all that is good in it.  A fuller view.  A view that recognizes there are so many who are less fortunate while simultaneously rejoicing over the blessings in our own lives.  That’s the secret.

A state of mind.

It’s the only thing that separates those living the dream and not.

So, I ask you, are you living the dream?

It’s Not Too Late To Set 2012 Goals. A 3-Step Plan To Catch You Up.

It’s January 23.  If you haven’t set any goals for the year, chances are you probably won’t.

I hope I’m wrong though.  It’s never too late to start goal setting and living more intentionally.

If, however, you are someone who planned to goal set this year but for whatever reason haven’t, here’s a 3-step action plan to help you catch up before any more of the year gets away.

1. Prioritize

If you had a lot of potential goals swirling around in your head back in December, now’s the time to narrow them down.  Pick 2-3 that are most important. Chances are if you haven’t set any goals by this point, there’s a reason for it.  Don’t overwhelm yourself now.  It’s better to pick a handful and work hard toward on those than set 17 goals and achieve none of them.

2. Answer why

For each goal you set, be sure to include why you set it.  Being clear about why you’re doing something is powerful.  While it seems obvious and simple, it’s not.  Consider this.  How many unexpected events happened to you last year?  How many emergencies?  How many requests did you get from other people you couldn’t turn down?  How many times did you start something and not finish it?

Answering why and documenting it with our goals gives us more of a fighting chance by the time May rolls around and life has happened.  This step is critical, especially for important goals we’re not very passionate about like writing a will, for example, or getting life insurance.

3. Write them down and hang them up

Once you’ve decided on 2-3 goals and answered why for each, write them down and hang them up where you’ll see them daily.  Mine and my wife’s goals are printed out and hanging on the refrigerator.  Considering we both need food to survive, we’re guaranteed to see them every day.

And for you smarty pants readers, yes, there’s also dry food in the pantry for us to subsist on.  But I’m sure you get the point!

So there you go.  A simple, 3-step plan to help you get going with achieving your goals and living well.

Question:  What steps would you add?

The One Thing I Won’t Do This Year

This year I will run 2 half marathons in under 1 hour and 50 minutes per race.

I will read at least 5 books on personal development.

I will write 2-3 blog posts per week.

I will pray with my wife every night.

These are 4 of the many goals I’ve set for 2012.  All of them have action plans behind them to help ensure I accomplish what I’ve set out, and nearly every goal is activating my why, my purpose – to advance others through personal-growth education.

Hopefully by now you’ve also set at least one goal for the year.  But here’s a twist for you.

What one thing will you make it a goal to not do this year?

Right now you may thinking, “What a sec, Joel.  Goals are about getting stuff done!”  If you’re thinking that, you’re right.  Goals are typically aimed at doing rather than not doing.  But really goals do more than that.  They help us live the most balanced, accomplished lives possible.

Well unless you’re perfect, you have bad habits, characteristics and tendencies that prevent you from living as well as you could, accomplishing your goals and activating your why.

So what is it?

Spending too much time at work?  Being online too much?  Checking your email during date night with your spouse?  Prioritizing the game over everyone else?

Perhaps it’s as simple as interrupting people when they talk.  Or always assuming the worst about others.

The one thing I will not do this year is check email, Facebook or Twitter during date night with MaryBeth.  Nothing says I’m not here, my mind is somewhere else, more than whipping out the smartphone to see what you’re up to.  No offense but MaryBeth and my marriage are simply more important.

I encourage you to give this some serious thought.  We all have weaknesses and problem areas.  Think about what you want 2012 to look like.  What you want your life to look like.

What’s standing in your way?  When you decide on it, write it down and place it somewhere you’ll see it regularly.

We hang our goals on the refrigerator so we see them every day.  My “won’t do” will be on the same sheet of paper.  If your “won’t do” is a bit too personal to showcase along with your magnet collection or kid’s drawings, put it in your sock drawer or somewhere more private.

Like all goals though, don’t write it down and shove it in the desk you never use.  Trust me, you won’t not do it.

Question:  What one thing will you not do this year?

Questions to Ask Yourself to Discover Your Calling

This post was written by Eric Speir, and first appeared on his blog, Life and Leadership by the Book

Have you ever been asked, “What do you feel called to do?” I used to cringe when I heard this question because I wasn’t always exactly sure. It took me over 30 years to start to figure it out and at times I still think I’m trying to figure it out!

If you’re unsure of what you feel called to do then don’t worry about it because you’re in good company. The Bible is full of examples of people who took a while to figure it out. Keep reading to learn about a few of them. Jesus was thirty years old before he was in full-time ministry.

I think he learned it by praying and seeking the Lord! Moses spent 40 years in the desert chasing sheep before he delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. King David was 30 years old before he became king. Noah was an old man when he built the ark. Abraham was too old to have children when he was called to be a father. By now, I hope you get the point that it’s never too late!

Before we go any further I want to clear something up. Calling is not just for pastors! I believe that everyone is “called” to do something. In the church world we often assume that only ministry leaders are called to do something. This is certainly not true and it surely wouldn’t be an effective ministry model. There are more business/marketplace leaders in the world than church leaders. If this is the case, we can assume everyone’s called to do something.

I know many people who are called to work in the business world. One of my best friends is a senior loan officer at a local bank and it is obvious to me that he is called to work there. He feels like he is helping people and being a contributing member to society. (Sounds a lot like ministry doesn’t it?) He has told me on more than one occasion that he is called to work at the bank. He is good with money and he’s one of the smartest business people I know!

My wife feels called to be a stay at home mom. (She would call it a domestic engineer!) She homeschools our children and pours into their lives. She can tell you just about anything about homeschooling and has reviewed just about every curriculum on the market. She has invested herself into knowing as much as she can about it. When you mention the word “homeschool” her face lights up!

Once you realize that you are called to do something, then you can start to ask yourself some important questions. For some people this is hard to do, but as a life coach I ask a lot of questions. In fact, as an inquisitive person this comes easy for me. You can learn a lot about someone (or yourself) by asking personal and directed questions.

Questions make us uncomfortable because they force us to examine our lives. The key to answering the questions is to be honest with yourself and to take the time to answer them. It’s hard for most people to slow down long enough to reflect on their lives.

Here are some questions to start your journey with:

  • What am I passionate about? (Hint: If you talk about it a lot then you’re probably passionate about it!)
  • What am I good at?
  • What am I not good at?
  • What comes natural for me?
  • What would I do for free even if I was not being paid? (I’m doing it now and you’re reading it!)
  • What are my spiritual gifts?
  • What do I day-dream about?
  • What do I spend my money on? (Hint: If you spend money on something then it’s probably important to you!)
  • What are my hobbies?
  • What do I love to do in my spare time? (I love to write and encourage people!)
  • What do you read a lot about?
  • What do you search the most for on the internet?

This is not an exhaustive list, but I believe it is a good place to start. The best thing to do is to get a pen, a journal and good cup of coffee and start answering them in your quiet time.

What other questions could you add to the list? Please leave a comment below!

5 ways living on purpose benefits your life

I graduated high school as mediatarian.  No that doesn’t mean I subsisted on finely aged books and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince cassettes (Summertime!). It means I was really good at being mediocre.  So good, in fact, it’s worthy of a name.  Mediatarian it is.

Back then, living centered around all things social.  That all changed in college though when I got involved in student activities and assumed leadership positions.  I then began devoting more of my life to living for other students, trying to make their college experience better.  From throwing big events to being their primary representative with school administration, I was living with more of a purpose.

While doing this, I met professor and motivational speaker, Joe Martin.  Joe changed my life.

To this day, he speaks all around the nation about living with purpose.  When I first heard Joe speak, I was blown away.  The idea of finding my calling and pursuing a career that aligned with it was incredibly powerful to me.  So, we brought Joe to the college to speak.  I had the honor of introducing him.  I was like a proud dad.  I did my thing and then Joe did his.  He knocked it out of the park.  I mean he killed it.  I wonder if anyone’s life was changed that day?

More than a decade has now passed.  A lot has happened to me related to living on purpose, which over time I’ll write about here, but for now, here’s what living on purpose has done for me and what I believe it can also do for you.

1. Provides direction

Living on purpose gives us direction, no matter what.  Let’s face it, life happens.  From laziness to tragedy to temptation, there are so many things that can derail the purpose train.  If you believe you’re living purposefully, don’t trick yourself into believing you always will.  Again, life happens, but purpose-driven life always give us a home to return to where we can re-center ourselves and get moving again.

2. Accomplish more

Even living with a calling takes work.  After all, we’re human.  We get distracted, lazy, negatively influenced or a litany of other things that pull us away from our God-given calling, however, when we’re cranking on purpose, we accomplish a lot.  I’ve found that when working to achieve a higher calling, we get more disciplined in all areas of life, which then begin to build upon one another.  Financial begins to feed social which feeds spiritual which feeds family and so on.  At that point, we create near-unstoppable life momentum.

3. Builds confidence

People feed off productivity, especially when it’s something we value or feel is important.  When life stops happening to you and you start happening to life, the natural by-product is increased confidence.

4. Keeps you energized

We all know people who just seem down in dumps constantly.  Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh books pretty much sums up this person. Perhaps you are them.  On the other end of the spectrum are the Tiggers of the world.  Sure, there are plenty of happy, bouncy people who aren’t living on purpose, but people who do are energized all the time.  They’re positive, optimistic and hopeful.  Even introverts who are living purposefully are Tiggers on the inside.

5. Helps you fight when life happens

As I said above, life happens, even to the best of us.  Life happened to Jesus.  Life happened to his disciples.  Life will happen to you, too, if it hasn’t already.  One of the greatest pleasures of living is sharing the world with spectacular people who bring amazement and wonder to our lives.  It feels great when we’re trucking along, living out our calling, helping people and then a parent gets Alzheimer’s disease.  Cancer strikes your spouse.  Your best friend gets killed in a car accident.  Worst of all, a child dies.

Life happens.  When it does, you need more than Saturday morning golf with your friends or book club or running or even the confines of church to help strengthen you.  Living on purpose gives you fight because it gives you hope, even when you’re so far down you question whether your purpose is even real.

Question: Are you living on purpose? How has living this way benefited your life?