How to cultivate a more meaningful to do list

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What a person needs is not a relaxed state, but rather to strive and struggle for a worthy goal.

Most of us want to lead a happy life. That’s natural, because pleasure is more attractive than pain. But should happiness be the ultimate goal in life – as the Positive Psychology movement proposes?

There is an easy way to find out. All you need to do is to answer a simple question:

How to cultivate a more meaningful to do listWhat were the three most significant moments of your life?

The three most significant moments in my life were the birth of my son, the death of my mother, and my promotion to 1. Dan Blackbelt in karate. Non of these three moments could be described as pleasurable. Giving birth is incredibly painful – until you look into your baby’s eyes. The death of my mother was a time of both grief and joy, and the promotion to Blackbelt was the toughest three hours I’ve ever spent in my life.

Although these three key experiences weren’t pleasurable at the time, they gave my life meaning. Now, when I look back, I experience satisfaction and a sense of joy. It’s the joy that comes from living a meaningful life.

Is your life meaningful?

Seven Ways To Make Your Life Meaningful:

1. Follow your aspirations. Sometimes we confuse aspirations with personal goals, but they are completely different. Aspirations are the answer to the question: “What do I want to give the world?” Whereas personal goals are the answer to the question, “What do I want the world to give me?”

2. Be passionate. Whenever you do something that you are passionate about, it gives meaning to life. Sometimes it can be difficult to balance work, relationships, and passion. But a life without being passionate about something can feel empty.

3. Live by your code of ethics. Every person needs a personal ethical code to have a meaningful life. An ethical code is a set of values that you uphold, even if the consequences might be painful for yourself.

4. Cultivate compassionate. Compassion happens when we stop being the center of our concern, and open to the suffering of others. If we focus on ourselves as the center of the universe and our thoughts revolve around how we were, how we will be, or how others see us – our life will ultimately feel meaningless. Compassion is a way of looking beyond our own needs, to those of others.

5. Be kind. Kindness is not just a feeling, it’s an emotion that leads to action. Kindness gives warmth to a life. Each kind interaction triggers a feeling of connection and pleasure. Actually, kind action is something that gives meaning to your life AND makes you feel happy!

6. Be in service to a greater cause. A great way to give depth and meaning to your life is to do volunteer work. Whether you coach a basketball team for streetkids, or help out with the elderly, or raise money to alleviate world poverty, whenever you step in to serve a greater cause, you give your life meaning.

7. Strive for a better future. Striving for a better future can take many forms, but it always entails developing as a human being. If you strive for a better future, you subscribe to life-long learning. New skills make us more effective in the world, both for our own life, as well as for the cause we serve.

So what about happiness? How do meaning and happiness intersect? My take is that happiness is the by-product of a meaningful life. On its own – as a life goal – happiness can feel shallow. But once you focus on leading a meaningful life, you will feel fulfilled and experience not only fleeting sensations of happiness, but a lasting sense of joy.

What’s your take on this?
Is happiness a worthy life goal? What are your tips for a meaningful life?

How to cultivate a more meaningful to do list

Some Amazing Comments

Click The Book Cover Below Pre-order Steven Aitchison’s new book The Belief Principle: 7 Beliefs That Will Transform your Life

Relationships, unfortunately, don’t come equipped with instruction manuals and lifetime warranties – we just have to learn from experience and take our chances with the people that come into our lives. Even so, you can ensure more successful, deeper relationships by keeping these things in mind:

20 Secrets to Creating Meaningful Relationships

1 – Understand Yourself More to Understand Others Better

The deeper your knowledge of yourself, the more engaging your relationships with others will be. You have to dive into the depths of your soul and take a good look at yourself before you can surface again; otherwise, your understanding of people won’t ever exist beyond shallow waters.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” – Lao Tzu

2 – Don’t Allow Others to Dictate Your Emotions

Nothing outside yourself should determine how you feel, because you get to choose your emotions in each moment. Others might influence your feelings, but they should never get the best of you. To become the master of yourself, you must realize that only you govern your mind, not anyone else.

3 – Never Sacrifice Who You Are for Someone Else

Put your best self forward, and don’t worry what others have to say. If you feel like someone doesn’t appreciate who you are, let them go. We came here to express ourselves authentically, not suppress ourselves to appeal to others’ wishes.

4 – Everyone Is Just a Reflection of You

How to cultivate a more meaningful to do list

Realize that everyone walking this Earth is just another you. They breathe the same air, have the same basic needs, and have a heart that beats with purpose just like you do. We all have slight differences, but our similarities connect us in profound ways and serve as a common bond between us.

5 – Don’t Expect Anything from Others

High expectations often come with great disappointments. By having no expectations, you will get a pleasant surprise when you come across honorable people, and have an easier time brushing off those with bad intentions.

6 – Give People Your Undivided Attention When They Speak

In this age of instant connection with the world online, we have largely forgotten how to converse with people in person. When someone speaks, put down your phone and really clue in to what they have to say; active listening enhances relationships, improves trust, and makes the other person feel like they matter.

7 – Loving Yourself More Attracts Others Capable of Giving that Love Back to You

Since you attract what you are, cultivating more self-love within and becoming more empathetic toward yourself will allow others into your life who reciprocate those feelings. Remember, you have an invisible energy field around you called your aura that others can sense, so increase your vibration to attract better people into your life.

8 – Open Your Heart Fully, and Don’t Let the Fear of Getting Hurt Hold You Back

All of us have been through some sort of pain in the past, but letting it control you will only block love from entering your life. Once you realize that everyone comes into your life to teach you something, you can transcend that pain and open yourself up to new experiences.

9 – Give Unconditional Love No Matter if It’s Returned

The more love you give, the more will come back to you. Once everyone can overcome the ego and embody their true loving nature, we will see a world with much less hurt and more thriving relationships.

10 – The Right People Will Come Along When You Stop Looking for Them

“Don’t chase people. Be yourself, do your own thing and work hard. The right people – the ones who really belong in your life – will come to you. And stay.” – Will Smith

When you stop chasing and allow your point of attraction to bring your experiences to you, life begins to align itself exactly as it should. The life and relationships you want will come to you – just continue to be patient and think positive.

11 – Every Relationship Can Teach You Valuable Lessons

Don’t ever consider a relationship a waste of time or failure – every person you encounter plays an important role in your evolution as a spiritual being. Honor all relationships in your life, no matter how fleeting the connection.

12 – A Few Good Friends Are Better Than A Thousand Acquaintances

As you get older, you will learn to appreciate quality friends and lose interest in counting how many you have. At the end of the day, it’s not how many connections you’ve made, but the depth of those connections, that truly matters.

13 – Don’t Mistake Lust for Love

Lust is an egoic, skin-deep desire. Love, however, takes time and effort to cultivate, and doesn’t have any motive other than to exist. Lust is selfish; love is selfless.

14 – Break Free From the Prison of What Others Think of You

The most successful relationships happen between those who feel perfectly comfortable in their own skin. People will talk regardless of your words and actions, so you may as well be yourself.

15 – Strive to Become the Most Authentic Version of Yourself

You have to spend the rest of your life in your skin – would you rather live out your days trying to escape yourself, or accepting yourself and letting your spirit soar?

16 – Bring Positive Energy Into All Your Relationships

“What you allow is what will continue.” – Unknown

If you permit negativity into your relationships and don’t try to transmute it with positive energy, your relationships will inevitably suffer. Bring kindness and sincerity to your relationships, and negativity won’t have any room to exist.

17 – We See Others How We See Ourselves

If you only notice the flaws in people, you likely see yourself as a flawed, inferior being. Work on changing your perception of yourself, and you will see others in a different light as well.

18 – Don’t Attempt to Change People

People won’t change unless they want to, so just love everyone as they are, imperfections and all.

19 – Free Yourself from Suffering

Suffering is a choice, and the more you let it linger, the more you will see it appear in your relationships. Let go of pain and watch your relationships flourish.

20 – Accept that Others Make Mistakes From Time to Time

Avoid putting people on a pedestal – everyone slips up at some point, so forgive them. Every mistake offers an opportunity for growth, and solid relationships thrive on people committed to bettering themselves.

How to cultivate a more meaningful to do list

Sportsmen “get” fellowship. We love being together in camp or in a duck blind sharing the outdoor lifestyle. Often those relationships go beyond the wild into everyday life. It’s a fraternity of sorts. A brotherhood.

But what about the church? This topic has dominated so many of my conversations over the last several weeks. There is an outcry among Christians, at least in my part of the world, for more meaningful fellowship.

That outcry points to a handful of potential symptoms. First, there may be a true shortage of teaching concerning the nature of fellowship among God’s people. Second, it could mean there is an internal, widespread lack of willingness to pursue and invest in fellowship of this kind. It could also mean God’s Spirit is beginning to reveal a deep need for biblically-fueled discipling relationships that reflect a more accurate picture of God’s will for his church. The deeper implication reveals—and it’s alarming—the existence of a lot of lonely believers.

As concerning as the case may be, it’s very cool to hear Christians say, “I need more meaningful fellowship in my life.” It means they are tired of the same superficiality to which they have become so accustomed. The Spirit in them is prodding them toward what they really do need.

The challenge comes when you pose the question, “What does that fellowship need to include to be more meaningful?” The following list isn’t exhaustive, but these aspects of fellowship are at the heart of every conversation I’ve had on this topic regarding what Christians are seeking.

1. Remember that Christ is the unifier of your fellowship.

Edifying Christian fellowship, while Christ-like to the unregenerate, is predicated on the justifying work of the Son of God and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. We should absolutely build relationships with those who reject the idea that Christ is the Son of God and seek to testify to them that he is the only way to heaven. However, those relationships should not look the same as the relationships we have with other Christians.

2 Corinthians 6:14-15 tells us, “What portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” Christ is the allotment given to his people. God does not call those who reject Christ’s sons or daughters but continues to show them compassion and common grace. Just as God’s love for the believer differs from his love for the unbeliever, so also should our relationships with unbelievers follow the same pattern.

In order for Christian fellowship to find its unification, Christ must be the unifier. When we gather for corporate worship, we gather under the implication that we recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Promised One, the Son of God. Because he is our portion, our love for Jesus and for each other is filled with the power and promise of his atonement, an understanding of God’s word, and the access to God that we have through prayer.

2. Continually seek to love one another.

This love, of course, is defined in the same way God’s love is defined for us. God has given his Son for our salvation. We must also give of ourselves for the edification and maturity of the church. This includes considering others, praying for them, discipling them, and helping in their time of need.

Jesus made it clear that Christian love for one another held such value that it was to be the badge by which the world would know that we are his disciples (John 13:35).

The importance of this in meaningful fellowship can’t be overstated. In almost every interaction I’ve had with Christians who are feeling lonely or seeking more meaningful fellowship with other Christians, unselfish love is one of the most sought-after elements.

But here is the qualifier of Jesus’ statement: we are to love “one another.” This is not a one-sided love. It is a love that contains two people giving, even sacrificing, of themselves for the enrichment and strengthening of each other.

In order for our fellowship with other Christians to feel more meaningful, it is absolutely necessary for us to first ask ourselves, “Am I loving as Christ loved?”

3. Hold up God’s word with reverence in your conversations.

I can think of almost no instances growing up in church where we sat at a good old-fashioned potluck and suddenly a discussion over Scripture broke out. Typically, there may have been a short “devotional” tacked on to the program, usually led by the pastor or a Sunday school teacher, but it was seldom moving to my soul.

Colossians 3:16 says that Christians are to “let the word of God dwell in us richly.” When we are together with fellow believers, we should not tuck away God’s word. Its richness should exude from God’s people. We should be eager to share what God’s word says as we speak into one another’s lives. If Christian fellowship is to gather under the banner of Christ in a meaningfully way, then holding up God’s word more highly in our conversations is a non-negotiable.

4. Pray regularly with and for one another.

We either believe that prayer is our communication with God and that he is sovereign over that communication or we do not. There is no in-between. Prayer ought to be a part of our fellowship with and for one another.

John Piper describes prayer as a “war-time walkie talkie” in his book Let the Nations Be Glad. Within the context of missions, Piper paints the picture of prayer as being the supply line of power and resources to the front line of a battle. We can apply this same metaphor to the function of prayer in our fellowship with other Christians. Powerful, meaningful fellowship among God’s people can only be possible when those people are in regular communication with God.

How to cultivate a more meaningful to do list

In order to learn how to build relationships, it’s important to understand what makes for a meaningful relationship. That’s the topic of this next post in our relationship series. See below for our other blogposts in this series – The Importance of Relationships, 7 Types of Work Relationships and the 5 Stages of Relationships.

A meaningful relationship is characterized as a relationship that is of personal significance, is healthy, caring, and long-lasting, and is one we couldn’t do without. It’s with a person who helps us grow, supports and encourages us and is there for us when we need them. This is what it means to be in the Continue stage, and is indicative of a mentor/mentee work relationship or life friends.

In order to be in a meaningful relationship, it must exhibit seven key characteristics, aka the 7 Qualities of Meaningful Relationships.

1) Communication

What: Communication is the expression and receiving of the thoughts, ideas and feelings of another person.
It’s critical to relationships because it’s the only way people connect. It’s instrumental to the other qualities listed below and is often the first thing to go when a relationship starts to deteriorate.
The key to strong communication is expressing yourself clearly and honestly and fully listening to the other person, seeking to understand what they are communicating (both verbally and non-verbally).

2) Respect

What: Respect means to hold someone else, their ideas and existence, in high esteem and in a positive light.
Why: Without respect for oneself and the other person, a relationship cannot thrive with honesty and interdependence.
How: To show respect, follow the Platinum Rule: treat others how THEY want to be treated.

3) Honesty

What: Honesty means your words match your actions–you are truthful about what you do.
Why: Honesty is critical to meaningful relationships because it is one of the pillars of trust, and without it, the relationship is likely to fail.
How: Being honest involves communicating clear expectations of yourself and the other person, admitting to any mistakes and expressing how you honestly feel.

4) Dependability

What: Dependability includes integrity, and means your actions match your words–you do what you say what you’re going to do.
Why: Dependability is the second pillar of trust and is a crucial show of support for the other person.
How: To be dependable, keep your commitments and promises and be present for the other person, both physically and mentally.

5) Empathy

What: Empathy is the vicarious experience of the thoughts, feelings and emotions of another person.
Why: A step beyond sympathy, empathy is the ultimate sign of support for the other person because you truly walk in their shoes and experience what they experience.
How: As Stephen Covey describes it: seek first to understand, then to be understand. Focus on truly understanding what the other person is going through and feeling before trying to fix it, respond to it or ignore it.

6) Interdependence

What: Interdependence is when two independent people come together to create a strong relationship.
Why: Interdependence is stronger than a co-dependent relationship because both people are coming from a solid foundation. This has a powerful effect and leads to “the whole being great than the sum of the parts.”
How: Interdependence comes from thinking Win-Win in every scenario–find ways both independent people can benefit from each decision.

7) Purpose

What: Every strong relationship has a purpose–a reason that the two people are connecting, associating or being involved with each other. It could be for career perspective, guidance, socializing, love or a thousand other things.
Why: The purpose helps to dictate what is expected and appropriate of the relationship; without it, a relationship isn’t worth the time or effort because it provides no value to at least one of the participants.
How: Defining a purpose includes evaluating why you are in a relationship and aligning with the other person the reason the relationship exists.

7 Qualities of Meaningful Relationships

There is more depth to each of these qualities, but the above synopsis gives you a starting point to understanding what it takes to have a meaningful relationship. By working on each of these qualities, you can grow your relationships into the Continue stage and reap the benefits of meaningful relationships.

If you would like to learn more, checkout our other blogposts on The Importance of Relationships, 7 Types of Work Relationships and the 5 Stages of Relationships. Remember, having meaningful relationships at work improves your workplace satisfaction by up to 96 percent (and keeps you sane).

5 Steps for Creating Strong Personal Connections

Posted Sep 19, 2015

The older I get, the harder it is to make new friends. That is the lie I have told myself.

The truth is I don’t take the time to create new friendships. I barely give enough time to the ones I have.

I recently read an article by psychologist Lloyd J. Thomas called Creating A High-Quality Relationship. Dr. Thomas made the distinction between looking for and creating relationship. The lesson I gleaned from the article is:

You have to create your relationships. They don’t magically show up.

Whether you and I admit it or not, we need people. We need others to dialogue with, to provide sounding boards and critical eyes to help us navigate life, to explore what is meaningful and possible, and just to relax with no purpose at all.

Even if you have a spouse or significant other, you still need a few solid friendships for your health and well-being. It is too much responsibility to be your life partner and your only friend. There will be times you need to reach out to someone else. Hopefully, you have a few friends you can be open and comfortable with to talk to.

Here are some steps you can take to create enriching, long-term relationships. These steps could deepen the relationship you have with your life partner as well:

  1. Become comfortable with yourself. I’ve read many things in my life about the need to love myself. The book, The Unfolding Now, by A.H. Almas gave me a new perspective on self-regard. Almas says that when we care about others, we want to know them, spend time with them, and help them feel happy. We also show them compassion and forgiveness. Can you do this for yourself? Can you be curious as to what is happening in any moment instead of questioning and judging yourself? Can you find the time to be with yourself to explore what makes you feel fulfilled? Can you look at yourself as a human trying to do the best you can with what you know so you feel compassion and forgiveness when you do something you regret? This is how you grow. Caring for yourself is your first step to creating strong relationships.
  2. Discover the greater purpose for your relationship. Dr. Lloyd suggests you find or mutually create an overarching purpose for your relationship such as being the sounding board for each other as life continues to change, to support each other in figuring out how to be good parents, to share your spiritual development, or to explore the ever-changing meaning of success and happiness together. Enjoying lunch together now and then is not enough. Knowing what gift you provide for each other will keep you looking forward to the times you can connect.
  3. Don’t just listen when you are together, relax into receiving. Listen to more than the words when you talk with your friends. Feel their experience. Take in what they are expressing. Don’t try to fix them, tell them they shouldn’t feel a certain way, or tell them what you think they should do for their own good. Let them know you are aware how significant their experience is for them. Let them know you are present and willing to support them in whatever they need, even if it is only for them to know you are there. We all need people who will let us be who we are.
  4. Examine your expectations. The greatest threat to a relationship is unspoken expectations. If your friend doesn’t meet your expectation, talk about it as soon as you can. If you hold on to your resentment, it will smolder and kill the friendship; you will come to expect being disappointed. Soon, you will drift apart. And if your friend shares a disappointment with you, don’t defend yourself. Work to understand how the misunderstanding occurred. Say you are sorry the incident happened. Then seek to discover what you both need to do in the future to keep the situation from happening again. Strong relationships are built on trust and the ability to talk about how you feel.
  5. Lighten up. Friends who laugh together, stay together. Laughter decreases stress and helps us to feel connected. In this moment, we enjoy ourselves as well.

We are social beings who need loving and appreciative relationships to stay healthy and productive. Strong relationships lead to a meaningful and enriching life. Without them, life is dull if not sad. It is worth your time to create strong connections.

For more ideas on how to create your own supportive community, read Marcia’s book, Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction.

How to cultivate a more meaningful to do list

Partnering with another company is one of the most effective ways to expand your customer base. Besides free advertising into several new demographics, strategic partnerships also allow you to provide more value to your existing customers.

For instance, the Uber and Spotify partnership gave the music streaming service an additional avenue to reach customers who may have never heard of it. It also gave Uber something that no other ride-sharing company can offer its passengers — the ability to control the radio during their ride.

Such partnerships are just as beneficial for businesses of all sizes, provided each partner knows how to build, cultivate, and make the most out of the partnership. Once you’ve found your partner, work together to build something that will benefit you both for years to come. Here are four ways to make sure you set your partnership up for success:

1. Set clear expectations.

You should have a strong connection with the business you partner with, but hammering out the details of that partnership has to be more technical than emotional. Define the business structure (partnership or corporation), what the partnership should accomplish for each company, and what constitutes each partner’s domain. This will eliminate confusion for both companies’ leaders, employees, and customers.

It will also help you avoid complications and disagreements over which partner should handle what. When you started your company, growth may have meant each employee taking on whatever roles were needed for the company to succeed. For your partnership to succeed, however, you must give every employee and manager a specific title with clearly defined responsibilities.

2. Consider your partner a part of your team.

Clear and well-defined roles ensure there will be no overlap in offerings that could generate competition between you and your partner. Such conflicts are a significant reason why up to 80 percent of business partnerships eventually fail. It may temporarily delay the partnership, but you’ll both flourish if you take time to thoroughly integrate each other into your teams.

That’s the approach that Nike and Amazon are taking in their partnership to open a digital Nike store. The potential for overlap and other conflicts is substantial, so they’re taking their time to iron out every detail first. Your partnership, however, shouldn’t be just about benefiting from the other company’s technology or customer base. To make the partnership as valuable as it can be, it should be about learning, growing, and benefiting from each other’s knowledge and experience, too.

3. Give the partnership room to grow.

Remember, you’re not just pooling resources; you’re also combining your abilities to scale as quickly as possible. Exago, an embedded business intelligence company that partners with Walmart and Autotask, explains that flexibility and extensibility are key in tech partnerships: “BI products, especially embedded ones, must be able to cover the full gamut of client needs — even as they change or evolve over time.”

From a technology standpoint, an application’s extensibility is how capable it is of supporting custom programming, a potentially game-changing asset to its partner software. From a business perspective, extensibility is a vital element in any partnership because both your partner’s and your ability to extend resources can mean freedom for employees to innovate new products, customer engagement strategies, and more. A valuable partnership should be capable of sharing resources and adapting over time.

4. Make honesty and transparency your watchwords.

Establishing a successful partnership and ensuring it has the ability to grow are essential, but they don’t guarantee that you will succeed. Long-term success also requires honesty and transparency from both partners. That means maintaining open and frequent communication as well as personal interaction as often as possible.

Make your strengths and shortcomings known upfront and insist on the same level of honesty from your partner. Both companies have to be transparent about what they lack and what they offer before deciding whether the partnership is a good idea. You also have to remain transparent for both sides to capitalize on every opportunity and learn from every failure. Honesty is the best policy when building any relationship. You’ll get more out of your business partnership if you make it a priority.

Partnering with the right company may be the next step in your own company’s evolution. Your partnership’s future will depend on how you approach, build, and maintain it. To make your partnership last, follow these steps to create something that both partners can truly build together.

You might assume it is common knowledge that relationships in business are important and that everyone strives to create and maintain good working relationships. However, that is not always the case.

Business relationships are tricky. Sometimes they are transactional; simply interacting as a means to an end. Other times they are relational, and centered on having meaningful engagements that build and maintain the relationship. And they can even be a combination of the two.

Transactional interactions can be collaborative or competitive. When collaborative, you and your counterpart walk away feeling good about the transaction, like you were treated fairly and more likely to engage with one another in the future. On the other hand, if competitive, you might feel like you were treated unfairly, cheated or nickeled and dimed. In such cases, you probably will not want to engage with this person again.

In relational interactions, you care about the outcome, but also about your colleague. In turn, your colleague cares about you, too. This means you are paying attention to the process and quality of how you are both communicating, not just interacting as a means to an end.

Framing these engagements as a collaborative, relational process helps you build and maintain relationships. Here are five components of collaborative relationships and how you can develop yours to be more mutually beneficial.

1. Fostering open communication.

Communicating in an open and honest manner, in any relationship, is critical. You want to experience the authenticity of your counterpart and you want that person to see you for who you are.

You want to be prepared and honestly acknowledge what it is you know and do not know. Admitting you do not have an answer and saying you will look into it and get back to them establishes credibility. Being caught making things up can be considered deceptive and inauthentic.

2. Building trust.

Building trust allows you both to feel safe sharing information. Trust does not come overnight. It is time-consuming to build, but can be easily compromised.

One way of building trust is to find out what is important to your counterpart and commit to providing something for them. It can be a key data point, a book reference or an introduction to a colleague. Whatever you promise, make sure it is something you can actually deliver on and that will build your image of being reliable.

3. Managing the pace.

Relationships take time. There is a window within which you will feel comfortable about the pace to establish rapport, and build trust and confidence in each other. Signing an important contract the next day can feel rushed, while meeting for three years before closing a deal can feel like an eternity.

It is useful to determine the “what” and “when” of milestones you can use to measure the pace of building your relationship. Your short- and long-term goals will need to be taken into consideration to identify these milestones and when you would like to reach them.

4. Controlling your emotions.

Engaging in new relationships can feel exciting, make you anxious or both. You will not know how to interpret some comments made or actions taken, nor how to communicate your own feelings because you do not know this other person well.

Identify practices you can use to feel more comfortable even in the uncomfortable moments. Try to slow down your breathing or visualize a soothing scene. This will keep you calm and buy you time to think of a suitable response to dig deeper and clarify your understanding.

5. Creating mutually-beneficial outcomes.

At the end of the day, mutual benefits are the payoff for investing time and energy into business relationships. Maybe you learn from each other. Maybe performance increases when you are around each other. Or maybe there are other tangible benefits.

Think about the aspects of the relationship you find valuable and want to retain. What are your contributions? What are theirs?

It is the mutually-beneficial relationships that prove to be most valuable in the workplace, and in life.

How to cultivate a more meaningful to do list

“To have a friend and be a friend is what makes life worthwhile.”

I am fascinated by friendships.

Not the acquaintances you see occasionally or the Facebook friends who wouldn’t recognize you on the street.

I’m talking about your real people. The people who know and love the deepest parts of you. Their soul sees yours.

They’re the kind of people you can talk to about how hard it’s been to meditate lately or what’s really going on in your marriage. They’re the kind of people you call for a ride when you get a flat tire and they’re the ones who affirm and support all the “weird” things about you that make other people uncomfortable.

They’re your inner circle people. The heart of your life.

I’m so fascinated by deep, meaningful friendships like these because for most of my life, I’ve had none, or only a very small few.

I always had friends, good friends, who I spent a lot of time with. We celebrated birthdays, analyzed boyfriend behavior, and discussed the pros and cons of the haircut of the season.

But did I regularly look these friends in the eye and think to myself: Yep, you are a sister (or brother) to my soul?

Admit when your friendships don’t nourish your soul.

It’s not that I didn’t love them. I loved (and still love) them deeply.

It’s not that I didn’t feel supported and cared for by them. I knew those things were true, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

And it’s not that I thought I was better than them. I don’t. Acknowledging that you’re different or that you want different things doesn’t make you a snob. It just makes you different.

According to my belief system, on the deepest of levels we’re all the same and all connected. But we also live in a human world, where personality, lifestyle choices, and values determine the way we live and relate to others.

So I don’t think we should beat ourselves up for acknowledging that some relationships bring fluidity and symmetry to our hearts more easily and quickly than others.

Once I faced the fact that I had very few of these profound soul friendships, the obvious next question was: Okay, so where do I find them?

The general refrain in my head was something like:

“Yeah, universe, I get that we’re all connected. We’re all one. Uh huh. But over here, in my corner of Planet Earth, I’m not feelin’ quite so connected these days. Where are my people?”

A booming voice from the sky did not appear. But this old saying popped into mind:

When you pray, move your feet.

So I moved my feet. I turned my Soul Friend Radar to full tilt.

I prowled the corners of the interwebs and relentlessly picked the brains of former colleagues and college friends, all in an attempt to find my siblings of the soul.

I was determined to find the friends who I could talk openly with about my spiritual beliefs and how they informed every decision I made.

And I wanted these same spiritually-minded friends to adore my sometimes-12-year-old sense of humor, my introversion, and my devotion to Grey’s Anatomy (even though this last one makes no sense to most of them).

Spiritual and down to earth. Introspective and prone to kitchen dancing.

Sounds like the duality of a perfect friendship to me, which is why I give thanks every day that I’ve now found these kinds of friends. It wasn’t that hard, actually (more on that soon).

These friends have helped me become so much more joyous, fulfilled, and all kinds of giggly.

And it didn’t take weeks or months for me to know if they were the soul friends I’d been hoping for. I could tell almost immediately.

How I knew my soul knew yours.

Stories I’d never told anyone easily fell off my lips. Sadness I thought I’d healed appeared as a crack in my voice. Our laughter together seemed like a sound I’d been hearing for centuries.

As much as our culture waxes on and on about romantic love, some praise needs to be sent over to the soul brothers and sisters who hold us up through it all.

The love that comes from your own, custom-made community of kinfolk is vital. Nothing is more nourishing.

And because I wish that for you, too, here are 7 things I did to find my spiritual soul sisters and brothers. Go forth and make friends!

1. Consider the possibility that you may already have friends who feel the same as you.

Choose a few of your nearest and dearest and tell them what spirituality means to you and why it’s a big deal in your life. They may surprise you with enthusiasm, genuine curiosity, or a super-passionate spiritual story of their own.

2. Be proactive in meeting like-minded people.

Have you always wanted to go to a sweat lodge? Or do you get giddy at the thought of learning how to make your own incense? Do you daydream about being Byron Katie’s next door neighbor?

Type whatever search terms tickle your fancy into, select your city, and voila! You’ll have a long list of gatherings to choose from, and they’ll be full of like-minded people who are also looking to make new connections.

3. Run a Google search for conferences, retreats, or workshops with a spirituality theme.

Sign up for one. Like, now.

4. Ask your existing friends, family, or co-workers you trust for some referrals.

Try something like:

“Hey, not sure if we’ve ever talked about this in detail before, but I’m reeeally into [insert a specific area of spirituality that floats your boat–could be meditation, yoga, chanting, Eckhart Tolle’s books] and I’d like to connect with some local people who share my passion. Any names coming to mind? Would you feel comfortable introducing us?”

5. When you find one soul brother or sister, tell them:

I need more people like you! How about we plan a fun dinner/bowling night/karaoke party and invite a bunch of awesome people you know?

6. Start a book club that focuses on spirituality/personal development books.

Stick flyers up at your favorite yoga studios and coffee shops. You can also try posting an ad in the classified listings of your local paper, on a site like Craigslist and also on social media.

7. If you get jazzed up by affirmations and mantras, try these on for size:

  • Deeply fulfilling friendships are on their way.
  • Love comes in many forms. I am open to them all.
  • Thank you for the friends that are coming. I know already: they’re the best!

And remember that saying: When you pray, move your feet.

How to cultivate a more meaningful to do list

Franchise Your Business

How to cultivate a more meaningful to do list

As a serial entrepreneur, I know firsthand how important it is to connect with customers. Building relationships is key to learning your customers’ needs. And, you may gain more returning customers, referrals and net income in the process.

As a small business owner, you have an advantage when it comes to building customer rapport. The size of your company allows you to reach people at a more personal level than big businesses, which turns into stronger relationships with customers.

To create customer relationships, and keep them strong, you must do all you can to engage customers. Here are five ways to build customer relationships and keep them coming back.

1. Communicate.

As a key to any good relationship, communication is an essential way to build customer relationships. Promoting your business and listening to your customers are equally important.

Rather than just telling customers about your business, have conversations with them. Find out what your customers need, then show them that you have a solution to their problem.

If you have employees, teach them how to effectively communicate with customers. Instead of waiting for customer service to become a problem, foster communication skills with customers while onboarding new employees. Maintain an employee policy, requiring timely follow-up, to make sure the customer’s needs are met. Make sure your staff returns voicemail messages and emails promptly.

2. Exceed expectations.

Your customers expect great products or services from you. You should continue to raise the bar on what your company offers.

To put it simply, under promise, and over deliver. When you impress customers, they keep coming back.

To exceed customer expectations, you can deliver a product or service faster than anticipated. When you deliver earlier than expected, the customer will be happy about the surprise. For example, tell a customer their order will be ready by the end of the month, knowing you will have it ready a week earlier.

3. Ask for feedback.

Whether customers have a good or bad opinion about your business, they will make their feelings known. Invite customer feedback to show you are listening. Place comment cards on your business counter, or conduct a survey.

Customer feedback helps you hone your customers’ specific needs so you can find the best solutions to their problems. The better your offering meets their needs, the more your business will grow.

Always listen carefully to comments and respond promptly, whether it’s a compliment or a complaint. The worst thing you can do is ask for feedback then not address concerns. Even negative feedback is valuable and can give you an honest gauge of customer satisfaction.

4. Connect.

With technology, there are more ways to begin conversations with your customers than ever before. There are many online tools and social media outlets you can use to reach customers.

When you engage with customers online, be careful not to create a one-way conversation. Ask customers questions, and respond to their inquiries.

Also, make sure your website is top-notch, and start a blog to engage your customers and prospects. Build customer relationships through your online presence.

5. Show appreciation.

Reward long-time customers with a loyalty discount program. You can hand out reward cards, or use a loyalty program app to track customer rewards.

With a loyalty program, customers earn points for buying your goods or services. After earning a certain number of points, the customer gets a reward. For example, you could reward a customer with a discount on their next purchase.

Also give away inexpensive branded items, such as pens or notepads, or even expensive items, like shirts, hats or jackets with your logo on it. It’s a small yet effective way to say thank you to customers while keeping your business top-of-mind.