Positive Focus

Ever feel like you are having a rough week and the list of things on your agenda keeps growing as the week goes along?  Or been so busy that you have no time to remember the good things that happened in the week?  Consider using the attached Positive Focus worksheet to prevent yourself from getting swallowed up by the stress and take a little time each day to reflect on what went well. It’s a great habit to form!

While this worksheet won’t prevent the bad things from happening or the list of things you have to do from piling up, it will give you an outlet to remember why exactly you do all of the things you do in the first place.  This worksheet is part of the Strategic Coach program by Dan Sullivan.  The program helps you tap into your potential by encouraging you to become more organized, and slow down to really look at what brings you value in your life.

Among the other tools and suggestions offered by the program is the idea that if you can, accomplish 3 pertinent tasks a day.  When you start to handle your tasks in this manner the stress and seemingly mountainous list of things to do will slowly dwindle down to a much more reasonable level.  Once you have the 3 things a day down pat, you can work your way up to handling extensive to-do lists in a well-managed and less stressful way.

As a participant in the Strategic Coach program, I’m encouraged to share the tools with you. In order to download the Positive Focus worksheet, click the link and feel free to utilize this worksheet as much as possible.  Positive Focus  If you are interested in learning more about Strategic Coach you can take a look at www.strategiccoach.com.


Financial Planning Week 2012

October 22nd-29th is Financial Planning week.  Conveniently positioned before the big holiday shopping season, there are many ways you can celebrate Financial Planning week to make the rest of your year (and the year after that) a lot less stressful.

Here are a dozen suggestions from the Financial Planning Association:

1.  Balance your checkbook

2.  Make a monetary contribution to your favorite charity

3.  Start a savings account for a child, vacation, or a gift for yourself

4.  Help teach your children how to save and spend wisely

5.  Get your estate in order: Create or revise your will & other estate-planning documents

6.  Call your financial planner and share your appreciation for their service

7.  Pay off a credit card

8.  Get a head start on college – investigate collegiate planning options

9.  Establish an emergency fund

10.  Evaluate your employee benefits and begin planning for open enrollment

11.  Develop your holiday spending budget

12.  Plan for year-end tax strategies

Rwanda: A Gem Waiting to Shine

As you may recall from earlier newsletters, the entire McNary family visited Rwanda in July of this year.  While the visit had a certain amount of apprehension to it, we all left with a newfound appreciation for a nation that is truly working towards a bright future.  Following the horrifying events of the genocide in 1994, Rwanda has felt a surge of unity under the leadership of Paul Kagame that is aimed at transforming the country from third-world to first-world in just one generation.  Although this goal is certainly a lofty one and may be out of reach for the time being, the nation has totally altered its’ identity and is now a place of hope, acceptance, and desire.

After our brief visit in July, I (Tom) was truly riveted by what I saw the last time I was there, and thus was inspired to figure out some way to return.  I achieved this by signing up with a global volunteering agency to go back to Rwanda for the first few weeks of this October.  I was at first very nervous, for despite the praise Rwanda has received I was still not completely sold on the idea of being on my own in a third-world country without my family.  What I was met with completely blew me away and I am certain now that I have left a part of my heart there.  From day one I was greeted with smiles and open arms, not only by the workers of the volunteering cooperative, but by anyone and everyone whom I greeted on the street.  The people are friendly, outgoing, and brimming with a thirst for knowledge about the world around them.
This welcoming attitude was manifested perfectly on the first sunday I was there, in the town of Gisenyi which is right on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  As I was walking to the market that morning with a few other volunteers, we passed a church in session.  Curious, we peeked our heads in to see the sermon being delivered and we were immediately greeted and beckoned to join the churchgoers.  Two men who had a fair handle on English were assigned to us and they provided us with seats near the front of the church.  The two men were thrilled to have us in their church and to have a chance to try out their English, and so we received a full translation of the sermon.  Eventually as the sermon drew to a close, we were invited to stand up in front of the church of 300 and introduce ourselves.  While standing in front of a large crowd might have been daunting under different circumstances, I felt a sense of calm and acceptance as we told them who we were and where we were from.  Following our introductions we received a rousing round of applause and after the service ended for the day we spent almost an hour meeting with various members of the church and discussing our business for being in Rwanda as well as our thoughts on the country and people. This interaction left me smiling and I exchanged contact information with a number of the people who came to speak with us.

I am still blown away at how openly we were accepted into what some might consider sacred or private ground, and it was exciting to see our hosts boasting prideful smiles as they discussed their church and country.  This experience also showed me the impact that people like me could have by simply being there.  Most of the work I did consisted of building house foundations or gardening, but even then I was usually shooed out of the way by a tough Rwandan woman who would laugh at my pitiful attempts to till the soil.  Even though after most days I wasn’t sure if I had really done anything, I was reassured one day when all of the volunteers were invited to a celebration at the home of one woman in a village near Gisenyi.

The celebration consisted of about 20 women singing and dancing for us, while also cooking us a meal.  I was not the only one who was taken aback at what they had done for us, but the women then explained through a translator that before the volunteering program I was part of had been established, their lives had been a struggle.  Although almost every woman there lived in a tiny house with a floor composed of rocks filled in with soil, they were glowing with pride as they told us how their exposure to our volunteering agency had them going from living off of potatoes and kidney beans to now owning their own cows, chickens, cell phones, and even in some cases increasing the size of their homes.  The fact that we were willing to help out pleased them, but our impact was larger to them because we represented a channel to the outer world (or even out of their village) that allowed them to dramatically increase the quality of their lives.

When my few weeks there were up, I was surprised at how disappointed I was to be going home.  I had felt like I had integrated seamlessly into the culture there, and despite the occasional good-natured haranguing about my skin color (the term for which is umuzungu in the local language) I felt incredibly comfortable in a place where a troubled past clouts the beauty and unequivocal acceptance of the people who live there.  The main point of my writing this is to expose a nation that is truly on the right path and has thrown itself wholeheartedly into building a better future, and one that is free of corruption and violence at that.  While many people have a certain stigma that comes to mind when they think of Africa and especially Rwanda (I won’t deny that I did), the generalization could not be farther from the truth.  I hope in the future to build a lasting relationship with the people and the country, as it is a place where you really can feel the impact of your actions and see the change as it happens.

If you are interested in doing something like this or have a family member that is itching to make a difference or see this beautiful country do not hesitate to contact me as I would love to share more about my time there.  I have also heard from a reliable financial planner that sponsoring a volunteer to go do something like this is tax-deductible, so if you are reading this and wanted to help me make a return visit, I’m sure I could help you out there as well.  For any questions or comments you can reach me at mcnaryw@colorado.edu and I thank you if you have read this far!

Tom McNary

A Delightfully Savage Experience

I just returned from the annual conference for the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors, the leading organization of fee-only financial planners.  Three packed days of sessions were terrific, as always, but one session was a special treat.  Terry Savage, the Chicago Sun-Times columnist and well-known author of The Savage Number and The Savage Truth on Money, was a featured speaker.  She’s currently on a nationwide tour with financial literacy as her mission.

She was genuinely delighted to find a conference full of like-minded souls and spent just as much time asking us questions about fee-only financial planning as she did sharing wisdom.  If you get the chance to hear her speak, I recommend going.  She motivates and inspires while explaining financial concepts in ways anyone can understand.

Her website has a nice collection of useful calculators as well as archived columns she’s written for the Chicago Sun-Times. Check it out here: www.terrysavage.com