My favorite “remade” dance films

The not so current trend of remaking beloved classic films continued this month (May 2017) with ABC broadcasting a “reboot” of the every so popular film “Dirty Dancing”. I did not watch the new movie, but I hear from numerous sources that it was a real stinker on many levels.

Sonya Saraiya, a TV critic who writes for Variety magazine, provided some very insightful words regarding this reboot trend. She wrote, “Hollywood’s headlong passion for plucking beloved pieces of pop culture out of the past and polishing them with a slick sheen of mediocre nostalgia has claimed even this raw, unpolished gem: “Dirty Dancing” on ABC is a sappy, passionless, schlocky remake of the original, without even the iota of imagination necessary to expand upon the 1987 film. Nearly every element of the film that caught worldwide audiences’ imaginations has been sanded down into an advertisement-ready imagining of the swinging ‘60s.

That sums up what most people are saying about the remake of this beloved film and the reboot trend that has been sweeping American cinema and television. It would be easy enough to continue with a discussion of this subject, but we can also argue that in some cases a reboot, remake or sequel turned out to be a big hit. I offer, for your consideration, a list of my favorite dance movies that are a remake, reboot, or have spawned sequels.

The first movie on my list is “Shall We Dance?” starring Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere. Many people do not know that the original movie was called “Shall We Dansu?” made in 1996 and was a Japanese film. Having watched both versions of the film it is interesting to see how the premise is slightly the same, but the overall feel of the films are quite different. The original carries a much deeper meaning that cannot be duplicated with the remake. This is due to the differences in Japanese and American culture and how both societies interact with the opposite sex. Needless to say it would take too much time to explain here, but it is interesting and I recommend that you take the time to research the topic before watching the original. Both films are very good in showcasing the reasons for one particular man to decide to take his first dance lesson, and the overall effect it has on him in the long run.

The second movie on my list is “Footloose” starring Julianne Hough and Kenny Wormald. I realize there are going to people who cry SACRIEGE at my inclusion of this remake, however, for people who love good dancing, they will agree that this movie showcased its stars very well. As this was a straight up remake, the stories from both movies are very similar, with only a few slight changes here or there. The obvious differences are the casting choices for both films. It is well known that director Herbert Ross wanted to cast up-and-coming actors Like Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Chris Penn and Sarah Jessica Parker to mix with established actors like John Lithgow and Dianne West. Ross also required that his young actors be able to dance but he did not want professionals. We wanted his cast to look like every other red blooded American teenage for that time period. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of the few stars that had professional training, but Ross desired a more authentic feel to his dance scenes and he obvious achieved that. We see people who look like they are having a good time just doing their own thing. The remake took the opposite approach with director Craig Brewer deciding to cast professional dancers in lieu of trained actors. We see the polish of his dance scenes, with Julianne Hough getting a chance to really show her stuff. The dancing is very entertaining, though the movie doesn’t give you the same everyman feeling.

Last on my list is movie called “Step Up” which stars Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum. The original was a bad boy makes good story, with some really good dancing from the stars. From there a whole series of Step Up sequels came into being and a chance for new dancers to be showcased. My favorite in the series was actually the last one made called “Step Up All In”, which I understand featured the best dancers from all of the previous sequels. A couple of noted performers are Ryan Guzman and Briana Evigan, who are both starting to get some traction in other types of films and advertising gigs. Let’s also not forget Stephen Boss, better known as tWitch, who showed off his notable talents on “So You Think you Can Dance”. He is another dancer starting to gain serious momentum. All in all a good series of movies that delivered on the premise of the titles and showcased some great dancing.

Agree or disagree? Leave your comments below.

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Quick Warm-up Exercises for Everyone

The athletic world has changed so much over the past 20 to 30 years it is sometimes staggering to take in.  I started my journey to become a certified athletic coach in 1991 and remember writing my final thesis on the subject of muscle strains, pulls and tears. 

It might seem amazing that I tell you I chose that topic because, at the time I knew so little on the subject, realized that it was information that might come in handy later and simply wanted to learn more.  Many people probably hate the thought of Research papers, however I always found them to be a useful tool when put into the proper context.

For my younger readers, an athletic coach was the precursor to what we know today as Personal Trainers.  Today’s advancements in both knowledge and application in this field of study have made much of my initial training obsolete.  However there are a few things that have remained consistent in what is being taught, and that includes the importance of a good muscle warm-up before beginning any type of exercise.

As a dancer, a good warm-up can mean all the difference in the world between cutting a rug and being an observer.  Even something as harmless as hitting the dance floor at a wedding reception can result in injury if you do not take the correct precautions. Learning to warm up certain parts of the body properly can make all the difference in your dancing enjoyment.

Why Warm Ups Matter

Warming up properly is very important to dance, or any exercise, because it helps the body become prepared to move faster, make larger movements, jump, and bend.  Simply stated, a warm-up causes the temperature of your body to rise, which in turn pushes blood to your muscles and helps lubricate your joints.  All of this contributes to a reduction of injury due to your body being revved up and ready to move.

I include a basic warm-up in every class though it is generally masked as an introduction of basic dance elements or a review of previous class information.  As most of my students are older, I understand more than most the importance of making sure my students do not over exert themselves before they are ready.

A Basic Warm Up for everyone

The following list of exercises are designed to help anyone at any age quickly and adequately warm up your muscles from head to foot.  Some of these exercises can be done standing or sitting.  Some people may have limitations that keep them from doing certain movements. Always remember that if you feel pain doing a certain type of warm-up or moment, you should stop immediately.  The old adage “no pain, no gain” has been outdated for well over 20 years.

 

  1. Neck and shoulder Isolation

Isolation is a term used to describe a series of warm ups in dance class that help your body to feel more agile. This warm up is usually performed with the feet shoulder-distance apart and the toes facing the front of the room. Bend your knees slightly and make sure that your spine is upright.

The point of isolations is to focus on one body part at a time. With your hands placed on your hips and the rest of your body perfectly still, begin looking to the right for a beat and then left. This warms up the muscles of the neck. You can also slowly circle the head by dropping the head down, to the right, back and left. Repeat this circling motion to the opposite side.  Once you have completed your neck rotations move to the shoulders.  Slowly rotate your shoulders forward then back in large circular motions. 

  1. Hip Swings

The hips are another part of the body that you can warm up during isolation. Holding the same stance as in the neck and shoulder isolation, move your hips to the right and then left. Be sure to keep the rest of your body as still as possible. You can also circle the hips by pushing them to the right, to the back of the room, to the left and then front. Reverse this motion to the opposite side. 

  1. Ankle Isolation

Continuing with our isolation, we move to the ankles.  Start in a seated position, extending your leg and pointing your toes.  Hold for a few seconds, then return your foot to the normal position.  Repeat the process with one foot several times and then switch to the other foot.

Next, slowly rotate the foot so that the ankle receives a wide range of motion.  Remember to rotate both clockwise and counter-clockwise to give the muscles and ligaments a chance to expand and contract in multiple directions. 

  1. Heel Raises

Our last isolation take us to the calves and hamstrings.  Place your feet together with the toes facing the front of the room. You can also do this warm up with the heels together and the toes turned out, which is more commonly done in ballet. With a perfectly straight spine, raise your heels off of the floor, balancing yourself on your toes. Then lower your heels to the floor. Repeat this movement until your calves feel warm. 

  1. Leg Swings

To warm the entire leg, stand on one leg with the toes facing the front of the room. Lift the other leg off of the floor and bend it slightly as you swing the leg toward the front of the room and then toward the back of the room. Repeat this for a dozen repetitions on each leg. If you find that you have trouble keeping your balance, hold on to a chair or a wall. 

  1. Lunge Stretch

Lunge stretches, commonly called running stretches, are useful for stretching the muscles of your lower body. Find a solid surface that you can use for balance like a chair or desk.  Start with your feet together and push one leg back behind you. Your front knee should be bent. Your back leg will be as straight as possible.  Hold for a count of 20 to 30 secs, then repeat the process for the other leg.  To prevent injuries, always be sure that your front knee is in line with your foot and not too far forward.

Following these simple yet important exercises can quickly change your flexibility and range of motion in these important areas.  Remember that these exercises can also double as stress relief exercises for a quick pick me up at work.

What we can learn from Mariah Carey

“The Show Must Go On”

A phrase that use to be synonymous with Show Business, however, in recent years we have seen this phrase become a distant memory as we continuously move forward into the future.  To some the phrase is an outdated reference to days past, while others still use the phrase as a motto that embodies a work ethic that is slowly disappearing in today’s society.  

Let’s take a look at the phrase, as defined by various sources:

“The show must go on” is a phrase generally used in show business, meaning that regardless of what happens, whatever show has been planned still has to be staged for the waiting patrons.

The saying and principle are traditional in the theater, but they both originated in the 19th century with circuses. If an animal got loose or a performer was injured, the ringmaster and the band tried to keep things going so that the crowd would not panic because “it is a point of honor not to let the other players down by deserting them when no understudy is available.”

By now everyone with access to national news has either heard of or actually witnessed the New Year’s Eve debacle of the artist known as Mariah Carey.

 

Before I continue, let me first state that this blog posting is not about adding additional commentary to this unfortunate incident with Ms. Carey.  My thoughts are centered on a much bigger issue that is plaguing our society and is really a direct by-product of what the Carey incident represents – the death of professionalism.

What does it mean to be a professional?   What is professionalism in the workplace?  Why is this idea so important to our society?   Let’s first look at the definition of some of these terms to gain some understanding.

Definition of professionalism

The conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person

 Definition of professional
Characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession:  exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

Definition of profession
A calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation:  a principal calling, vocation, or employment

We can see that the definitions are all pointing to an important idea: professionalism or the act of being a professional really is about a person’s character.  How a person is expected to act and conduct themselves while performing their profession.  Most importantly, how we as clients and/or co-workers should expect others to act while performing said duties.

Looking back at Ms. Carey’s performance, we can very clearly see that she did not act in a professional manner.   This is further exemplified in her conduct after the fact.  Professionals take responsibility for their actions generally out of respect to their profession.  Reports from credible witnesses stated that she chose not to complete a sound check before going on stage, and was very nonchalant about the entire process.  The footage shows that she was more concerned about her appearance than about her performance.  That she may have planned to lip sync the entire thing from the beginning is not an entirely new concept in Show Business.  It has become an action that has become the M.O. of many very talented artists, which is unfortunately sad.  The fans certainly deserve better for their endearing support through both time and money.  There are many examples of this situation happening with other performers over the last few decades, and it reflects a change in character that is also a reflection of society’s attitude in a more general sense.  We allow this type of thing to happen by not withdrawing our support when performers disappoint us.

If we are working at a job and were to demonstrate such an unprofessional attitude, we would experience a   reduced income, a diminished reputation, and a loss of trust from our co-workers.  These are normal by-products of cause and effect.  Action and reaction.  The loss of trust and reputation means the loss of opportunity to work or be promoted.  This leads to the loss of revenue or job raises.  Co-workers no longer feel that you are reliable and their disappointment can cause your work environment to become unstable.  Personal relationships are what our society is built upon, so this is an important piece to understand and manage appropriately. Think you are an island unto yourself?  Check out my previous blog regarding Self-made success: Reality or Fiction.

What have we learned from Ms. Carey’s example?  Being a professional and acting in a professional way tells allot about how you are.  Character defines you like nothing else can.  Your Work Ethic tells people what they can expect from you as a partner or co-worker.  Lastly, how you react to a situation does count in people’s opinion of you.  Lou Holtz once said, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”  Conducting yourself in a professional manner is not only smart, but the appropriate way to operate in society – the show must go on.

 

Please leave your comments below.

Supporting our local community

I always look forward to the Fall for many different reasons.  The cooler weather is nice, the changing of the leaves and of course, it represents that three of our biggest holidays are right around the corner.  There is, however, another reason I like the fall, it is also the time that we organize two of our biggest community projects, our annual Costume Ball, known locally as the “Thriller” Ball and our Dancing for the Arts show.

 

Our local paper recently featured a nice article written by Lisa Thornton of the Cabarrus Arts Council, in which she talks about how our events have an effect in the community.  Here is the article for your reading pleasure.

 

thriller

 

What do Chef Boyardee, the reigning Miss Concord and zombies have in common?

Nothing normally, except for this Friday, October, 28, when all three make their way to Positively Ballroom’s Costume Ball, an annual event nicknamed, the Thriller Ball, that raises donations for Cooperative Christian Ministry’s food pantry.

It’s an evening of dancing at the Cabarrus Country Club from 8-11 pm, with music provided by the Salisbury Swing Band held.  Tickets cost $25, with a portion going to CCM. Guests are also encouraged to bring canned goods to stock CCM’s food pantry, which often runs low around the holidays.

The nickname, Thriller Ball, comes from the opening number – a group dance to the choreographed routine from Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

For weeks, Ryan Knight, owner of Positively Ballroom, has offered group lessons for anyone who wanted to learn the dance that first entranced the nation back in 1982. Marcie Trivette, who holds the current Miss Concord United States, was one of Knight’s students.

“The most challenging part of this has been the fact that I am in no way a dancer,” said Trivette. “However, Ryan has been awesome in working with me to make sure all of my steps are in sync with everyone else on the dance floor.”

Thriller group dances around this time have become common, thanks to Thrill the World, a global project that organizes simultaneous Thriller dances throughout the world at the exact same time. Often, the events are tied to a local charity. Thrill the World 2016 takes place October 29 at 10 pm. Visit ThrilltheWorld.com for more information.

For the last few years, Knight has selected Cooperative Christian Ministry to receive the donations from his Thriller event. Last year, attendees contributed 1,200 of food for CCM’s pantry. Donations like those, said CCM Development Director Glenn Love, are crucial to the organization.

“We rely tremendously on corporate groups, family businesses, government entities and a wide variety of civic groups all across Cabarrus County to donate to our food ministry,” said Love. “We could not do what we do without our remarkable community.”

Knight came to Cabarrus County in 2010, opening his dance studio on Union Street South that same year. Since then, he’s been an advocate for the community’s needs. Besides fundraisers for charities like CCM, his business, Positively Ballroom, also sponsors the Cabarrus Arts Council’s Dancing for the Arts, a fundraiser modeled after television’s Dancing for the Stars that pairs celebrities with professional dancers. For the last several months, Knight has worked with local celebrities, choreographing and rehearsing their numbers in preparation for the sold out November 12 show.

There are no strict guidelines for the Costume Ball this Friday, other than modest dress. Guests who attend aren’t required to participate in the Thriller dance number. In fact, they don’t even have to dance. They can just sit and enjoy the live band, said Knight.

They don’t have to dress as zombies or ghouls, either. Trivette is wearing a red gown along with her crown and sash, and adds that no one needs to be spooked by those dressed as zombies anyway.

“I’ve never met an uptight zombie,” she said. “All of my other fellow zombie dancers are very welcoming.”

Want to learn more about the Costume Ball? Visit PositivelyBallroom.com.

Do you have what it takes to be a Franchisee?

Business opportunities can present themselves in some very unique ways.  My first taste of a much larger business world came in the form of a franchise opportunity through a national martial arts organization.  How does one become a franchise owner in a business of this type?  Sometimes it is simply by design.

Like most kids that grew up in the 80’s, I was exposed to men like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Jackie Chan through their various movies.  Saturday afternoon was “Black Belt Theater” for my group of friends.  Someone would go down to the local video store and rent a martial arts film, then we would all gather at their house and watch it.  By the time we reached high school, martial art studios had started opening in our local area.  Some of my friends had even started taking lessons, but my schedule was to full for additional activities at that time.  Once I graduated and started attending college, I had an opportunity to do some research and investigate the various forms of martial arts available in my area and eventually joined a studio to begin training.

At first my interest in martial arts was purely for fun and recreation.  As I obtained some of the beginning belt ranks, I watch as some of the more experienced students were encouraged to become involved as assistants in teaching class. I saw this as very prestigious and naturally wanted to be asked as well.  I inquired about how to become more involved in the studio and eventually was invited to be an assistant.  Once I obtained the rank of Black Belt, I was encouraged to pursue certification as an instructor, not realizing that this would eventually lead to my next business opportunity.

I was introduced to the concept of internship and how people elect to work for free in order to obtain experience in your desired field.  It was during this time that I learned about how the studio worked as a franchise business.  The studio owner took me under his wing and taught me the ins and outs of everyday operations, which included sales, marketing and managing cash flow.  The work hours were long, sometimes 14 to 16 hours a day, but the education and experience was unlike anything I had obtained in formal college classes up to that point.

Eventually I was given the opportunity to buy into the franchise model and open my own studio.  I mentioned before that sometimes things happen by design.  The martial arts organization that I choose to join had put out a mandate to the various franchise owners for them to seek out people willing to open new studio locations.  The internship program helped studio owners weed out possible candidates to become new franchise owners.  Not all candidates were considered a good fit, but those that proved a willingness to conform to the business model, had the proper desire to work and displayed a business aptitude were offered the opportunity to join the ranks.

The goal of this blog entry is give you some insight on some of the advantages and disadvantages of franchise ownership.  People buy into franchises every day, and are very successful and happy with their ownership.  However, it is not always cake and ice cream and some people, like me, sell their franchise and move on to other business opportunities.

As I mentioned previously, in a franchise business, the franchisor provides a developed way of doing business, which is known in business circles as an established business plan.  They offer ongoing guidance and assistance when you encounter stumbling blocks.  However the most important thing they offer is a recognizable brand and through that brand, solid marketing potential.  All of these things are provided to you in return for a periodic payment of fees.

Let’s look at some of the most obvious advantages.

  • The independence of small business ownership supported by the benefits of a big business network.
  • Franchisors usually provide the training you need to operate their business model so previous business experience is not needed.
  • Franchises have a higher rate of success than start-up businesses due to their recognizable brand.
  • You may find it easier to secure financing for a franchise, due to its established business plan.
  • Franchises often have an established reputation and image, proven management and work practices, plus access to national advertising and ongoing support.

 

Based on just these known advantages, it is easy to see why someone might want to own a franchise business.  Now let’s look at the other side of the coin and visit the most obvious disadvantages.

 

  • Buying a franchise means entering into a formal agreement with your franchisor. You may be in charge of your local establishment, but you still have a boss.  Expect the franchisor to monitor your success and failure, much like having someone constantly looking over your shoulder.
  • Franchise agreements dictate how you run the business, leaving an owner little room for creativity or variance. When operational policies are changed by the franchisor, those changes filler down to the franchisee, no matter if the changes are good or bad for business.
  • There are usually restrictions on where you operate, the products you sell and the suppliers you use. Most franchises have a requirement of where you place your business and what suppliers you are restricted to use.  As a franchisee you will be required to adhere to these restrictions.
  • Bad performances by other franchisees may affect your franchise’s reputation. National branding is great as long as the brand maintains a good reputation.  When that reputation falls, it affects the entire brand as a whole.
  • Buying a franchise means ongoing sharing of profit with the franchisor and monthly fees for the use of their brand, business model and support.
  • Franchisors do not have to renew an agreement at the end of the franchise term. Yes, you read that correctly.  Franchisors have the option to cease your use of their brand, business model and support if you fall to meet their expectations.

 

What does it mean to lose franchise branding and support?  It would be like losing your house in a natural disaster. You are left with nothing more than the shirt on your back and the money you have managed to save in your bank account.  More importantly, you are now going to have to make a choice of whether to start a new business from scratch or simply cut your losses and find other employment.

In my experience owning a franchise was exciting at first.  We were successful and I in turned helped open two additional locations, which were also successful.  The turning point for me came when the franchisor made a few key changes to business operations, while also increased our royalty fees.  These small changes eventually cut into my bottom line and I found that it was no longer profitable for be to be in business.   Luckily I was able to sell my franchise to a new owner and got out while things were still on a high note.  The business lasted for a number of years after I left, but the owner eventually decided to leave the franchise brand and continue on as an independent operator.

Franchising is seen by many as a simple way to go into business for the first time. But a franchise does not guarantee success and the same principles of good management – such as informed decision-making, hard work, time management, having enough money and serving your customers well – still apply.

Be cautious when buying into a franchise if you have to develop the market and the brand in your designated area. Make sure your investment generates a healthy return and if you decide to sell, make sure you sell for a gain and not a loss.

Did you ever own a franchise and was it successful or unsuccessful?   Join the conversation below…

Do you have the heart of an entrepreneur?

Being a small business owner can be a truly wonderful thing.  Those who have the courage and drive to take a risk and start a new venture will discover the true American Dream.  It is a hard road to travel, with many emotional ups and downs, and I can tell you that it is a road that most people prefer not to travel.

In starting any business, one must ask themselves the most important question of all:  Why am I starting a business?

Everyone has their own reasons, but many include these basic premises:

  • Financial rewards. Running your own business gives you a chance to make more money than if you were employed by someone else. You benefit from your own hard work.
  • Independence and Lifestyle. You have the freedom to make the decisions that are crucial to your own business success.  You decide when and where you want to work. If you want to spend more time on non-work activities or with your family, you don’t have to ask for the time off.
  • Learning opportunities. Being involved in all aspects of your business creates numerous opportunities to gain a thorough understanding of the various business functions.
  • Creative freedom and personal satisfaction. Choosing to work in a field that you really enjoy puts your skills and knowledge to good use.  There is a certain satisfaction from implementing your ideas, working directly with customers, and watching your business succeed.

My first business plan came from an observation I made in High School while riding the bus.  I saw a classmate sell a lollypop to younger student for 25 cents.  I knew that individual piece of candy sold for 10 cents at the convenience store, so the math was easy.  The classmate made 15 cents in profit on that sale.  I approached my classmate and asked how he was able to get 25 cents for one lollypop and his answer was simple, the younger student offered him 25 cents, so he took it.  So my classmate was not trying to make a sell, the younger student simply wanted the candy and had been willing to pay a premium for it.  I went out immediately to the local convenience store and purchased all of the lollypops they had, which was about twelve.  The next morning on the bus I approached the younger student that had made the offer the previous day and let him know I had lollypops for sale if he was interested.  The bought four on the spot.  By the afternoon he had spread the word I had lollypops for sale and three people approached me to purchase candy which caused me to sell out my first day.   Returning to the store that afternoon, I inquired about buying candy in bigger quantities.  I was pleased to hear that the store was willing to give me a bulk discount – only 5 cents apiece if I purchased whole boxes.  I bought two boxes for $24 and my first business was born.

About one month later I learned one of my first lessons about business competition and product saturation in the marketplace.  People saw how great I was doing selling candy, they wanted a share of the market and took the initiative to start selling candy as well.  My buyers started to shrink and my easy profits started to dwindle.  It is said that business competition is a good thing for a number of reasons:

  • Competition validates your idea You know you have a good idea when other people are coming up with similar products or services. Competition validates the market and the fact that there are customers for your product.
  • Competition pushes you. Businesses that have little or no competition become stagnant. Customers have few alternatives to choose from, so there is no incentive for the business to innovate.
  • Competition forces focus & differentiation. Some businesses start expanding into areas that do not serve the best interests of the customer. Competition forces you and your business to figure out how to be different from your competition and how you can focus on your customers. In the long-term, competition will help you build a better business.

Though I hated the fact that someone had taken my idea and capitalized on it, I did not want to give up on one of my extra sources of income, plus, I had a lot of inventory that needed to be sold.  It was up to me to find out how to improve my services and regain my clients.  The easiest way to do that was to simply ask.  I polled a few of my first customers and found that my competitors were charging the exact same prices that I did – one lollypop for $25 cents.  My clients were still buying four for $1, so I came up with a different offer – five lollypops for $1.  I asked if they would they buy from me again and the answer was a resounding yes.  I was able to regain a few of my old customers and sell my remaining inventory at a nice margin.

As you may already have suspected, the competition caught on to what I was doing and quickly changed to match my pricing structure.  This was not an unexpected turn of events at this point and I had already made a decision to get out of the market once my current stock was sold out.  The experience had been a profitable one and I had learned something along the way.  Did I know that this was simply a stepping stone to bigger things?  My next business opportunity would come in the form of a franchise, which I will share with you in my next blog.

What was your first business and at  what age did you first start it?   Join the conversation below…

A Time for Renewal

January represents a number of things for many people. It is a time to try new things, or improve on current success.  The act of making New Year Resolutions, according to history, has been around since the time of the Babylonians.  The tradition has many religious parallels.  For Christians, the act of reflecting on our lives over the previous year, to both seek and offer forgiveness, can also be found during our season of Lent.  Though the motive behind Lent is more of sacrifice than of responsibility, the practice of New Year’s resolutions came, in part, from the Lenten sacrifices.  Regardless of culture or creed, the concept of offering resolutions was designed for individuals to annually reflect upon individual self-improvement.

The last six weeks of the year is always the hardest for me personally.  In 2009 I experienced the loss of a parent several days before Christmas.  Since that year I have found that no matter how hard I try, I just cannot seem to fully enjoy the Christmas season the way I have in the past.  However, I still continue to make the best attempt that I can so as not to ruin the season for other family members.  For me January represents not only a fresh start, but also a chance to recover from the downward spiral of the last six weeks.

I thought my first blog of the year should contain some discussion on how I review my personal goals.  Hopefully you may find some of these pieces can help you as well.

Create a personal Vision

It is said that successful people have a Vision of where they want to be and what they want to do.  We all have goals or resolutions, but they have little meaning if we do not see how they fit into the bigger picture.  Ask yourself open ended questions to help you think through how the individual goals fit into your life vision.

Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to own my own business? Where do you want to be at the end of the year?  Writing these answers down not only help clarify what you want to accomplish, but also allow you to review them.  I recommend to review your goals at the start of every quarter, making changes to them as needed. Remember to add to your list as new goals form.  Your Vision should start to become clarified within a few months and you will find it to be more motivating to continue with each review.

Make a Commitment to work

The second part of the process is usually one of the hardest.  You may have worked your brain while creating your Vision, but now it is time to work your body.  In order to execute your goal and make it reality, we must make a commitment to achieve it.  Making a commitment means sacrificing some things you may want to do, like eating an entire pizza, sleeping late when possible, or even hanging out with friends.  All of these things can still be done, just not all of the time. (Especially eating the pizza) Instead, make a promise to yourself to keep working hard, even when you experience setbacks and you will continue to close in on your goals.

Speaking of setbacks…   expect to have weak moments, they are a part of life.  Successful people realize that hurdles make you stronger.  Failure can be just as helpful as success, as they are both a part of the natural learning process.  Review why you failed and then take steps to make the correct adjustments and try again.  True commitment means that good or bad, you work through the hurdles so that great results can be achieved.

Always Believe in Yourself

Self-doubt.  Such an ugly little word, yet we experience this emotion daily.  I could write an entire blog (or more) just on this one topic, however, for this short segment I will offer just a few thoughts.

How easy is it to criticize others?  In this day of Social Media, the critics are an endless comment stream attached to everything.  No matter how many self-proclaimed critics there are, we will always remain our own worst critic.  Here is the truth, dear readers, I have learned through the years that if I never believe in myself, I certainly cannot hope to find others that will.  (Parents excluded)  Take time to think about who you are. Have a nice heart to heart with yourself.  Let go of any negative thoughts you may have and instead, replace them with positive thoughts.  Believe in yourself, commit to working toward your goals, and follow your vision.  Success is just around the corner.

I will wrap up this blog with a few words from Neil Gaiman:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.  Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
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