“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – Unknown
Having a conversation today with a client we both realized we are half way through 2009. It started me thinking about my life the last ten years. Just to put ten years ago into perspective, all the talk and worry of Y2K was just starting to unravel and George W. Bush was running for his first term.
The top albums were:
1. Jennifer Lopez - If You Had My Love
2. Pearl Jam - Last Kiss
3. Ricky Martin - Livin La Vida Loca
In the movies:
1. Sixth Sense
2. The Blair Witch Project
3. Austin Powers 2
4. The Matrix
This got me thinking about time and what I have or have not accomplished to date and WHY?? There is no doubt that time goes by at a rapid pace. About this time in 1999 I was running my own custom cabinet shop, training to take the physical portion of the fire department test in the city that I lived (training wasn't planned so my workouts were sporadic, I was working too many hours) and not really thinking much about the future. I was just trying to get through the day!
As I look back and reflect on the mistakes I have made and where I am today. The one thing that holds true for all the difficult times in my life was the fact that I did not have a plan. I was flying by the seat of my pants and had no direction. I did not take the time to sit down and design and build my life or business. When I started my cabinet business I didn’t have a plan. I thought about and knew what I wanted but didn’t sit down and blueprint how I was going to get there. Did that decision work out well for me? NO! I was working way too many hours a week and had no life. I burned myself out to the point where I disliked running a business and building furniture. This was something that at one time I loved doing and was passionate about. I was great at designing and building furniture but not at designing and building my business.
When I think about my training over the years the same principles apply. I have always made my greatest gains in size or strength when I had a clear goal and designed a workout and nutrition plan in advance.
Think about the last ten years of your life, or even the last five. Are you where you want to be? If not maybe it is time to design and build your life plan or readjust your current one. Here are some steps you can take to get you started:
Here is an example:
Let’s say my one year goal in the area of family/relationships is to take a family trip to Italy. Let’s break it down:
Where would I like to be 1 yr from now? In Italy – Venice, Rome and Sicily.
What are the most important steps? I chose 6 Steps for this scenario.
1st step - The first step would be to contact a travel agent to get an average cost. I chose that one because it may have an impact on the most important one. Which is:
What are my resources? We actually answered the financial aspect of this question in the process of going through the steps above. Other questions you can ask – Is there someone I can delegate some of the work to? Will a spouse or partner be contributing funds? Can and or will they get a part time job to help with savings?
What are some potential challenges I may face in attaining my goal? Once you know what they are you can put together a better plan to minimize the chance of them occurring. No need to drive yourself crazy but come up with a few potential circumstances to cover your butt. If you can’t think of any ask someone who travels frequently or the travel agent.
What is my backup plan?
This should be enough info to get you started thinking about and designing your life and what you choose to do with it. Because after all it is your life and your responsibility!! Or you could wait until next falls TV line up; they may come out with a “CSI: Italy” and you can watch it on TV.
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Most of the common problems that come up between a contractor and the homeowner during a remodel can be avoided. Doing a little legwork before signing a contract can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Most contractors work hard for their living but there are some dishonest and fraudulent Wanna Be's out there that have tainted the reputation of the industry.
Here are a few FixIt tips to help get your project completed smoothly:
1. Get at least 3 bids on the project and 3 references from each contractor.
2. Check the references supplied. Most contractors will provide references. Most owners not take time to check them. Ask questions when calling references. Did the job get completed on time? Did it get completed within budget? If possible go and look at a similar project!
3. Check the contractors license number with your state agency. Find out if there are any outstanding complaints.
4. How long has the contractor been in business? or in the business? definitely ask how much experience they have. It is fine to hire someone just starting out in business, it may even have a few advantages and some disadvantages. Be smart about it and consider the options. Does the contractor have an actual address? If they have a PO Box that might be a red flag for me.
5. Is the contractor's written contract understandable? If not, ask questions and make changes in the contract that are understood by both parties.
6. Is the payment schedule reasonable? If the contractor's deposit is more that 40% of the total project I would be a little concerned. Check with your state, some states set max amounts that a contractor can receive upfront for a deposit.
7. Ask for proof of worker's comp and liability insurance. Without proper insurance you could be left responsible for injuries on the job. Check to make sure all sub-contractors are also insured and licensed.
8. Communication! Communication! Communication!! Make sure you are comfortable with whomever you choose for the project. As in any relationship, if you can't ask questions and communicate effectively there is going to be a lot of issues.
9. Make sure all the bids are for the same specifications. A higher bid may reflect better quality materials. Detailed plans are the best method of insuring consistency.
10. Check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) for complaints or concerns from prior homeowners! and consider checking Angie's List (http://www.angieslist.com/Angieslist/)
Good luck with your project!! ;)