Category Archives: Life Tools

A dead simple way to track your goals and memories

Spreadsheets might be the easiest way to track lots of goals.

And spreadsheets you can access on your phone or from your computer increase the chance you’ll actually use what you set up to track your goals and jot down memories.

One Google spreadsheet to track things you want to do AND memorable events and thoughts

The good old Google Spreadsheet hooks to a Google Form. And it’s yours for the copying. Spreadsheet geeks will love it.

Easy: You can bookmark the form in  your Web browser and in your mobile browser.

Peasy: Stuff you enter on the form feeds into the spreadsheet. Then re-sort, slice, dice on the spreadsheet.

Check it out:

  1. Try playing with the form here.
  2. Then, look at the spreadsheet where you’ll see instructions for how to copy it if you like it.

P.S. I track my expenses the same way. I have a form bookmarked on my phone for all the different projects for which I can expense things. Presto! Within a few seconds I can log miles or enter the cost of that coffee meeting.

Lemme know any suggestions!


goal to learn to paint

Ways to Make Your New Years Life List

life list in a journalI love to help people think about their life goals and try writing them, or making a collage, to see how it can change you life.

Someone once commented that “The aspect of SuperViva. I love the most is getting ideas by browsing other people’s goals – that has been really useful for me, to help inspire me to achieve some new things. I also love having the list of achieved goals – it was great browsing other people’s and thinking “Hey, I’ve done that already!” and checking it off.”

But still, you may come to SuperViva and decide it’s not for you. So, I thought, why not help you find a way to make and keep your life list that works for you?

Option Cost Pros Cons
Paper (journal, notebook) Very low It’s creative and tactile. I personally love thinking through things in a journal. Check out Moleskines! You could lose it! Gets messy over time, requiring rewriting… although this could be a plus for your creative process. Overtime it’d be hard to track and reorganize a long list.
Online or computer text editor (private blog post, Yahoo! Notepad, or the list apps on iGoogle) Free Very simple, easy to cut and paste. Private, if you choose to make it so. Fairly static
Excel (on computer) or Google Docs spreadsheet (online) Free Classic way of organizing a life list, you can add categories in columns and check off as you go, add dates done etc. No cons if you mainly want privacy
To Do list applications (Remember the Milk for example) which also has an iPhone app Free Very simple (although more oriented to daily type tasks).
Integration with Jott so you can post by phone, which now is a paid-for service. You can also add it to iGoogle.
I’m not sure how well you can categorize and how easily a long list would be to manage.
Public blogs or message boards, where people list their life lists. Free If it’s a vibrant community this can be a quick simple way to connect with other people to help you. Realistically this works best if you’re working on a couple of particular goals. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for a lifetime list unless it’s your own blog.
Other life list websites Free If finding other people to get input is your main thing, check out 43things or Your100Things (from a life coach). Or you might find a Facebook app to share your goals. (FYI there’s a way to see SuperViva goals in an RSS app on Facebook.) Several limit you to 100 or fewer goals; or require goals to be public vs. allowing them to be private as SuperViva does.

Do you keep your life list some other way?

(PS if this is helpful, please consider donating to fund SuperViva’s efforts.)

How to Make Fans and Influence People

The Open Forum business blog has a detailed and clever analysis about what went right with the Obama election campaign. In Dale Carnegie Meets Barack Obama: Winning Friends And Influencing People In A Web 2.0 World, Brent Leary observes the parallels between how the campaign managers used video, word of mouth marketing, and other tools to connect with, endear, and influence voters using similar techniques to those prescribed by Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

If you need to wrangle a constituency to your side or win new customers, give it a read!

How Do You Want to Be Remembered – In 2 Words

In reading about the sudden passing of Tim Russert, who questioned the powerful and influential as moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” one thing in particular caught my eye.

Brian Williams called him “aggressively unfancy.”

Why do I love that?

It’s like the brand mantra, a company’s guiding statement, which Guy Kawasaki espouses. Only it can help you identify the kind of person you want to be.

I can imagine someone who is aggressively unfancy. Hal Riney, a multiple award winning ad man, seemed to often create aggressively unfancy (“folksy”) characters. Probably Ross Perot could be described the say way. And I’m guessing so too was Joan Kroc, philanthropic wife of McDonald’s founder.

Crafting Your Personal Mantra

To be honest I’m just making this up off the cuff, as a proposed experiment: An adverb plus an adjective seems like a format that will encompass your mantra. Two words may not be enough. But you get the idea:

  • effortlessly delightful
  • eternally caring
  • purely good
  • constantly living

Mine…something like: infectiously inspiring.

Do you have a mantra? What do you think and what is your process to find yours?


digg this

Increase Your Return On Your Investments So You Can Work Less

You probably have a few goals on your life list to learn things. A new language? Guitar? Should one of your goals be to learn about investing?

A few years ago I got the religion that if I learned how to maximize return on the money in my savings accounts, I could retire earlier. Duh! I bought Suze Orman’s Nine Steps to Financial Freedom and took the pledge to empower myself to not only learn about and monitor my finances but shift my money as it made sense. Managing the money you’ve already saved should be just as important as doing the work at your job. Maybe more so.

Who This Post is For: All my friends and anyone else whose IRA or savings are underperforming in CDs, savings accounts, or mutual funds that are providing low returns. And it’s for all the people on SuperViva who want to improve their financial situations.

(Note that I am not a financial expert. I’m sharing my own thoughts and knowledge to give you a nudge.)



checkmarkIs Most of Your Money In One Institution?

If so then don’t hesitate to contact a representative to ask their advice on stable funds that give the best return. At times with all the choices it seems impossible to figure this out yourself. They’ll often know right off the bat!

checkmarkPlay With Online Financial Tools to Help You Optimize

Try Etrade’s Intelligent Cash Optimizer
It’s time I took a new look at Etrade. They have lots of tools to help you, beyond their Intelligent Cash Optimizer which helps you “maximize your uninvested cash by instantly calculating its earning potential.”

MSN MoneyCentral has a mutual fund quiz that might be a good place to start your financial education.

ING’s ShareBuilder offers a portfolio builder tool to help you figure out how to allocate your money.

checkmarkCompare Top Rated Mutual Funds and Savings Accounts

Question your savings account or CD!

For example ING Direct has great rates. But I recently discovered a series of funds at Fidelity Investments that ensure you won’t get hit with the AMT tax. The tax equivalent yield on the Fidelity California AMT Tax-Free Money Market Fund
(FSPXX) is 4.9%. This fund has a stable $1 price. However it has a $25,000 minimum.

Fidelity Cash Reserves, which is a $1 fund you can add or withdraw from at any time, currently has a 4.28% 7-day yield, which is taxable.

Don’t let all this talk about these brokerage-oriented companies stop you from exploring good savings deals at traditional banks. Citibank has the “Ultimate Money Account” which has no minimum balance and is FDIC insured – currently returning 4.25%. Check their site for the fine print.

If you’re saving $25K, over a year’s time you’ll save a few more bucks by watching which fund is getting the higher return and moving it. There’s often no penalty for moving your money, but check with your bank.

Funds I’ve Done Well With*

While Mutual Funds fluctuate with the markets, if you’re saving a chunk of money for the long term it’s worth taking an hour to find funds that can pay off over time. Every bit counts.

US Eastern European (EUROX), which has had a 10 year 22.28% return.

Fidelity Canada Fund – $2500 minimum to invest.

Fidelity Capital Appreciation Fund (FDCAX) – also $2500 minimum

From this link you can search for Morningstar Highly Rated Funds based on your investment goals.

You can also browse funds, and sort the columns based on number of stars. Click the fund name to see the return for different periods.

Even if financial things give you hives, it’s worth reading the blurb about the mutual fund’s objectives. Why I’ve even been known to read about the fund manager!

checkmarkMove Your Money When It Makes Sense

Many financial institutions also let you transfer money between other institutions with no fee.

For example on ING Direct you can set up accounts for online transfer, which is effortless once it’s set up. It’s very likely the bank you primarily bank with also lets you do this.

Also, did you know you can open a Brokerage IRA account? You can trade stocks but will only end up paying tax when you cash out your IRA. If you hone your stock picking stills, playing the stock market as part of an IRA from which you don’t plan to cash out for many years may be less risky than using funds from your savings.

checkmarkNow Read More About Investing

motley fool

More links to investment advice sites.

*Well if they can say “past performance is no guarantee of future results” then I can too! Take any advice you read here at your own risk.

Got financial tips? Please share them!

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Do Vision Board Life Collages Really Work?

My friends reluctantly accepted my invitation to a party where we were to make collages, by cutting up magazines, of what we wanted this year.

Over and over I heard: “What should I put on my collage? I can’t think of anything.”

Once we sat down with plates of food and relaxing beverages, their fears drifted away. Here’s a photo of one collage, made by a stay at home mother with 2 kids.

And now just a week later she’s thinking of business ideas and planning 2 trips. “This is going to be my year of travel!” she’s gleefully exclaimed several times. Maybe it was all the glue.

I’m Too Cool to Collage

OK so maybe you’re not into goal setting. Maybe you’re not into parties. Maybe the idea of making a collage seems girlish or childish. It is. Who cares. Make one even if you don’t consider yourself girlish or childish. What have you got to lose? Here’s an article about throwing a collaging party. Please get in touch once stuff you’d put on your collage starts happening. (It will!!!!!)

collage party

2009 Collage Party: Reduce Reuse Reinvigorate

Sometimes it’s hard to get people to come to parties, but whenever it’s a collaging party, there’s usually a good turnout.

Despite the fact that there are still piles of magazines and poster board lying around, even a week later people are talking about how much fun it was.

I decided to make a minimal collage since I love the ones from last year so much and so many of my goals are the same.

Free Online Classes from MIT for Artists, Writers, Teachers Etc

learningDid you know that MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) offers classes beyond the rocket scientist-computer-multimedia variety but also for artists, elementary school educators, colorists, aspiring urban planners, wheelchair designers, business people, rock climbers, and even chefs?

Better yet, many of these are free to download for your learning pleasure (the perfect thing to do if you are at home sick in bed). After you add the goal to take MIT classes that interest you to your life list, hop on over to the MIT OpenCourseware site to peruse the index.

I plan to study urban planning, queuing theory, organizing for innovation, kitchen chemistry, entrepreneurship, and who knows what else.

And did you expect MIT to have a SuperViva-esque class called Composing Your Life: Exploration of Self through Visual Arts and Writing?

The class includes topics such as:

* Personal and Family History
* How We Portray Ourselves to the World
* Concepts of Race and Gender
* How Others See Us
* Analysis of the World Around Us
* How History Impacts Who We Are
* The Values by which We Lead Our Lives
* How We would Like to Lead Our Lives in the Future

Tell everyone you know about this amazing resource that enriches people worldwide. Thanks MIT!

What do you plan to learn?

Innovative Techniques for Planning Your 2008

Innovator’s Digest focuses on innovation within business; but their Technique-of-the-Week tips easily apply to improving your own life. Here are 3 fun and useful exercises that will help you prep for 2008:

  • Predict next year’s headlines—with the headlines being about you! What might happen in 2008? This technique allows you to identify where you truly want to be. It’s similar to that time-honored exercise of writing your obituary only more quick and short term.
  • Challenge your assumptions—such as if you’re saying you can’t do XYZ for whatever reason. Imagine ending every wall you put up with a “Why not?” instead of “Not.”
    • Step 1: Write down at least three assumptions you’re making about the problem to be solved.
    • Step 2: Now challenge each assumption by stating it’s opposite (or its negative).
    • Step 3: Write down any potential benefits or ideas that spring from you challenge to the assumptions.
  • Use music to let your mind flow. Record a creativity concert to free your mind. Here’s how.

These ideas come to you from SolutionPeople, a company which over 20 years has helped innovators generate over 2 million ideas valued at over $2 billion U.S. dollars.

Finding Work That Matters As Your Next Career or After Retirement

Someone asked the Wall Street Journal’s CareerJournal the eternal question: How do I find my passion and work that relates to my passion?

Their helpful answer also mentions Civic Ventures, an organization offering brilliant resources for people considering career changes, especially later in life: helps professionals and executives find “encore” careers that match their passions with the ability to earn an income. Their five-step guide includes a self-evaluation quiz, helpful books on this topic, and a list of sites to start looking for such opportunities.

Experience Corps is a service program now operating in 20 U.S. cities that places older adults in schools to test whether they enjoy working with children or teaching.

P.S. Make sure to nominate someone worthy for the Purpose Prize contest!
The Purpose Prize® provides five awards of $100,000 each to people over 60 who are taking on society’s biggest challenges. It’s for those with the passion and experience to discover new opportunities, create new programs, and make lasting change.