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viernes, 3 de diciembre de 2010

Stuck in Survival Mode?

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2010), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit or call 407-647-7005"

Stuck in Survival Mode?
Managing stressful moods attached to money

By Dwight Bain

When you are one paycheck away from financial disaster it doesn’t take much to trip and fall over into the abyss of despair. News of foreclosures, downsizing and soaring bankruptcy levels only make it worse for terrified and stressed out families who often feel stuck in what I call “Survival Mode”.

When a family feels stuck in the survival mode they worry about everything. Stress comes from every side; getting enough groceries or gasoline can be a struggle, trying to figure out how to get through the challenges of making rent, trying to find enough money to turn around and pay down their growing debts. A roof over their head is one of the biggest factors because often they are forced to move from the home they have lived in for years over to more affordable temporary housing.

They have to go through major adjustments because of reduced financial resources which ripple over into areas you might not think of like family members who avoid going to the doctor when they are sick because there isn’t enough money for medical care or prescriptions. Vacations are replaced by ‘stay-cations’ because the concept of disposable income for the purpose of casual entertainment is long forgotten when a family is stuck in survival mode. College and retirement are also forgotten concepts because they struggle to just get through the day.

Destroying more than credit scores

During these tough economic times we have seen financial pressure destroy more than money and credit scores. Marriages breaking up, workplace violence, aggression toward banks, the IRS or financial institutions, a spike in suicide, homicide, or familicide, along with a rise in addictive behaviors, (gambling/porn), an increase in alcoholism and prescription drug addiction. Face it, many people are caught up in a tangled web of intense emotions and it’s caused by fear way more than by finances.

There is an old saying on college campuses, “no mon – no fun” or put another way, when the cash runs out, the party is over. This mindset isn’t just true for college students, because there are millions of families facing financial distress who are feeling that their lifestyle is over because they are stuck in the survival mode of daily life. For these families there is no fun while waiting for a financial lifeline to be thrown their way before they drown in debt. So how can families facing incredible financial pressure break out of the survival mode?

Survival is more than it seems

First understand that SURVIVAL is not just a physical concept, (like food/water/shelter), it is also a psychological one driven by deep emotional needs to feel safe and in control on one’s surroundings. When a person feels intense financial distress they can become irrational and full of desperation, leading to desperate decisions which only makes their stressful situation worse.

Here’s what Joseph LeDoux, a neuroscientist at New York University said about how the brain functions in high stress situations during a recession. “Survival depends on the ability of an organism to respond to threat or reward and predict the circumstances under which they are likely to occur. The emotional brain is highly attuned to signs of potential danger.” Since survival is more than the basics it’s important to take aggressive action to meet both the physical and psychological needs within a family.

How can a family break out of being stuck in Survival Mode?

First they have to identify the facts of their situation, and then balance their feelings against the facts. Let me explain how it works.

Identify your FINANCIAL status then identify your FEELING status
For an honest awareness of your actual status, (FACTS)

When considering your financial situation, consider both your actual financial level and then the actual circumstances of your lifestyle. I suggest considering this on 3 different levels- Survival, Stability and Security. This way you will be able to cross reference between your finances and feelings to know how to accurately respond.

(Circle any of these lifestyle factors that apply to your current situation to gain a realistic picture of your overall situation)


Financial functioning with just the basics of food, clean water, shelter, clothing, utilities, housing, safe place to sleep, proper hygiene products, public education, public transportation, public assistance, community health care, banking through money order or cash advance, no savings, no emergency fund, no cable television, no vacations or entertainment choices, no health insurance, no life insurance, no retirement, basic phone/911 service, significant debt with likely poor credit score or tax problems, minimal wardrobe with few choices of clothes and shoes, used furniture, used appliances and used cars are the norm.


Financial flexibility with access to multiple professional services, owns home, cable television, high-speed internet, occasional vacations, occasional travel, moderate holidays, prescription medicine, dental care, optical care, dependable/safe car, gasoline, car insurance, multiple cars, health insurance, professional CPA /accounting services, lawn care, dry-cleaners, regular car maintenance, new furniture, new appliances, new clothes/shoes, new technology, access to home repair services, private education for parents and kids, home alarm systems, smart cell phones, multiple phone lines, (cell phone, land phone, fax, or home based toll-free), access to storage units to maintain their growing possessions, access to multiple entertainment experiences (professional sporting events, live music concerts, theme parks), occasional dining out, modern wardrobe with many clothing and shoe choices, professional hair-cuts, access to participate in team sports, basic retirement plan in place, health club membership, savings accounts, checking accounts, regular vet care for pets, regular medical care for family members, fully funded 6 month emergency fund, access to college and continuing education, plus all of the categories from the Survival level.


Financial freedom as evidenced by access to many choices and options, multiple new cars, fully funded retirement, fully funded IRA, extensive stock portfolio, PPO health insurance, frequent travel, regular vacations, extensive holidays, golf/tennis country club memberships, recreation vehicles, (motor coaches, boats, motorcycles, ultra-lights, wave-runners, 4 wheelers, planes), multiple homes or rental properties in real estate portfolio, vacation homes, personal tailors, personal assistants, exclusive private education, legacy protected through extensive estate planning and funded insurance or financial trusts, access to frequent dining and entertainment experiences, (at the highest level this would include attending major events like the Super Bowl, Olympics, World Cup, major concerts, going backstage at Broadway plays) plus all of the categories from the Stability level.

Life is like the stock market

I believe people flow through these 3 stages throughout life on a regular basis because no one is perfectly financially secure all of the time. Learn to view them more like a stock market report that goes up one day and down the next. It changes many times based on the circumstances on any given day and a wise investor knows not to panic but to trust the process. Life goes up and down, in fact Jesus taught that life would get tough but that we would never be alone in the process if we had faith, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I overcame the world.” (John 16:33)

Life flows- it doesn’t stay fixed at one particular level all the time. Since it ebbs and flows a healthy family has to learn how to flow with it between these three levels so that their mood can stay healthy and balanced no matter which level they may be on during a given day.

I’ve met people who were incredibly financially secure when you considered their portfolio on paper, yet who didn’t feel emotionally secure at all. Finances and feelings often don’t match and when they don’t people can quickly turn to panic. Listen to what author Orison Swett Marden said about this, “Our destiny changes with our thoughts; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thoughts correspond with our desires.” Literally what we believe about money will affect our moods.

When a family feel stuck in survival mode they frequently don’t believe they can change because they feel trapped in a downward debt spiral which could end up in bankruptcy, homelessness and complete financial ruin if all of their resources are depleted. Yet this disaster mindset often isn’t based in the reality of what is happening that day, but in the anxiety about the worst case scenario unfolding in the future. It is a completely one-sided point of view that only considers the worst that could happen without considering that anything good could happen to offset the bad.

Moving from Panic to Peace

To break out of the survival mode a family has to break out of being focused on the financial pressure, which only brings panic; to turn and focus on faith in a better day, which brings peace.

Often these fearful emotions aren’t shared equally with the whole family, because the entire emotional load is frequently carried by only one spouse or parent who hides it from their partner and the rest of the family. The pressure often can become unbearable on this person, leading to feelings of failure, shame or embarrassment along with stress related disorders or depression which takes a complicated situation and makes it much worse for them and for the rest of their family.

God never designed for one person to carry the whole load of a family- no one is that strong. Rather, we need to share the burdens with the entire family so that one person doesn’t get burned out trying to carry the entire load alone. (Remember the classic television show “the Walton’s” about a depression era family who always pulled together and got stronger when facing financial challenges… that’s a lot different than many families today who seem pull apart from stress when facing financial pressure).

Another factor to consider is that every person reading this is a member of 1 of the 4 financial levels represented in the US. Once you identify your financial level, (more of the facts), then you can move forward to tackle your fears and frustrations, (the feelings), in a realistic way.

Average income levels in the United States:

___ Wealthy -$259,706 & above

___ Upper middle - $74,700 to 259,706

___ Working - $46,700 to 74,700

___ Poor - $20,200 to 46,700

These income levels came from a 5 year project conducted by researchers at Harvard College & Duke University and later published in a book called "Building a Better America.” They found out more than just income because they asked a lot of questions about what that income level actually represented in terms of lifestyle.

So what does this mean to a family feeling financially pressured? Let’s go back to the FACTS to find out. If a family is in the middle to upper income range with access to retirement funds or lines of credit and someone in the family lose a job or has a car in need of a major repair it’s not a crisis, it’s an inconvenience.

However, if a person from the working class has the need for a major car repair and they miss even 1 paycheck they could be facing a major crisis because there simply are not funds or lines of credit to solve the problem. So they have to park the car and save to repair the car another day.

It would seem that a wealthy person would always feel financially secure, but that’s not the case based on the number of people from upper income neighborhoods who have resorted to self-destructive behavior during recent years as the great recession slowed our nation’s economy to a grinding halt. Oddly enough many people with great financial reserves and very comfortable lifestyles reacted in a panic mode that would have suggested they were about to become homeless, when in fact they were only having to shift to a different level of lifestyle because of a change in finances.

Money affects Mood

You have likely seen when someone feels financially confident how they spend more than they should and ignore the reality of their total financial situation especially if they don’t live on a budget. The same holds true when someone feels financially insecure and shifts into panic mode making things seem worse than they really are.

How to stay emotionally secure when life has panic, problems, nuisances and crisis events? Remember that crisis reveals what you believe about yourself and your situation. If a financial setback occurs it can create an opportunity for radical change which can be for the good if a family learns to pull through it together, instead of pulling each other apart.

A great example of this is author and financial coach Dave Ramsey, who faced a complete financial meltdown with the strength of his faith and family. Listening to his story of how his family ate beans and rice for a few years while rebuilding financial stability is inspirational to anyone facing tough financial circumstances. (Learn more about how this family pulled together during some really tough financial times at

Learning to balance your actual finances, (income level) with your feelings, (emotional level) will guide you toward getting out of the mindset of believing your life is over because of struggling with cash-flow.

They aren’t going to Eat You

No one is going to kill you if you can’t pay all of your bills on time, but self-destructive behavior can ruin everything. Creditors aren’t allowed by law to harass you and my hope is that you and your family will learn to see the many options you have when facing a financially tough time and not fall apart in the process. Consider the words of author Dale Carnegie who said, “Do you remember the things you were worrying about a year ago? Didn't you waste a lot of fruitless energy on account of most of them? Didn't most of them turn out all right after all?”

People stuck in survival mode can’t see the long view that things usually do turn out better in time, so I recommend they focus on a 24/7 model of coping in tough times. Basically you think about what you need to focus on for the next 24 hours over the next 7 days and don’t worry about things outside of that time frame. Yes, I know this will fly in the face of what Forbes magazine tells you to do about your long term retirement planning, but in a financial crisis you don’t have enough emotional energy to fight battles today while worrying about twenty years from now.

Worst of Times can often lead to the Best of Times

Remember that tough financial times can actually help a family identify their priorities a lot faster than any other time and these challenges can lead to remarkable personal development. For instance consider both sides of this situation to gain perspective. When facing financial pressure do you and your family focus on:

Cash Flow or Character?

Net Worth or Self-worth?

Consumerism or Contentment?

Pity/Panic or Peace?

Feeling insecure or Secure in faith?

Fearful or “Faith-full?”

Self-provision or God provision?

Workaholism or Worship?

Escape reality or Facing reality?

Financial failure or Financial student?

Greedy/Self focus or Generous/Serve focus?

As you can see there are many ways to look at a financial tough time, but it’s been my experience that a wise person learns to see beyond dollars to develop the real issues of their character and soul. Robert Schuller said it well, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” To break out of financial survival mode you have to know what you believe and then let the pressure push you deeper in those beliefs to become who you were meant to become. The toughest of times can actually become the best of times when you and your family develop these core values.

Here are the rapid ways to break out of Survival mode:

1. Share Burdens. You are not in this alone and there are others struggling with the same issues. Reach out and talk through the financial pressure because it will take a ton of pressure off and prevent emotional burnout.

2. Supports. Find support through your church, from extended family, from financial support groups in your community and basically any other place you can find. The more pressure on you, the more you need supports around you to manage that pressure.

3. Skills to cope. Journaling is essential to get out of the survival mode. Writing out your fears and frustrations will reduce pressure. Listen to positive music, take a yoga class, practice meditation, read biographies of people who made it through tough times, exercise and especially stay disciplined about getting enough sleep because exhausted people become emotionally frazzled faster. Learn to do all you can for the day and then go to bed and rest up to face another day with God’s help.

4. Systems. Develop routines for your family to manage tough times. This could be as simple as developing a grocery list to having family meetings about the home budget or setting a pattern to follow when facing unexpected medical expenses or costly repairs.

5. Strategy. One of my favorite sayings during tough times is “You always have options,” because it’s true. You can always call your creditors, you can call a hotline, you can sit in the floor and cry to release pressure or you can go out and look for a part time job for extra income. To develop strategies is to get a legal pad out and aggressively list every option. You will be surprised at how many strategies there are in tough situations when you can creatively list them out. And the more options you see, the more confidence you will feel.

6. Scripture. Study biblical principles that protect your mood, (here are some of my favorite sections of scripture which I repeated hour by hour through some of the toughest times of my life to stay focused and not afraid - “God will keep you in perfect peace when you keep your thoughts focused on Him.” “Cast all your anxiety on God because he cares for you.” “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed because I am your God.”) I’m not sure what your favorite verses are, but memorizing short sections to meditate on continually throughout the day will give you new spiritual strength. (Side note- this strategy isn’t about a particular religious view, it’s about developing deeper faith. Since it’s impossible to get through tough times without faith it’s essential to know what you believe if you are going to break out of the survival mode)

Never Alone on the Journey

Don’t forget, no matter which financial level you are at you are not alone. Millions of families are feeling stuck in survival mode and they are making it, and you can too. You are not a failure if you are facing tough financial circumstances, but you do have to take bold action to make some positive changes in your life. However if you wait and wait you can experience more pain and embarrassment. Better to be proactive to move from the survival mode over to stability by making calls and asking for help.

Facing tough times isn’t just limited to this generation because thousands of years ago the Apostle Paul wrote Timothy these words of wisdom to use in building deeper faith when facing financial pressure.

“A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after. But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses. Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:6-19 in the Message)

Getting Past the Pride

False pride prevents a lot of people from asking for help, which is odd since many people who literally would give you the shirt off their back if you were struggling financially are embarrassed to reach out and ask for help from others. Reverse pride is still a major roadblock for families, and especially when they may have been at a very stable or secure level in the past and now are stuck in survival mode.

My challenge to people stuck by false pride is to get over it and reach out to some of the wonderful agencies and organizations designed to help in situations just like the one you may be facing. Pharmacies have discount programs, doctors have payment plans and everyone will work with you if you reach out honestly get past your pride to explain your situation.

A practical bottom line to begin this process of moving from financial survival mode to a more stable place is to aggressively work together to save money in key areas like groceries, cell phones and medicine. Here are some links to get you started in your search to gain financial stability by accessing the many values available online.

Big Savings on grocery products
www.smartsource. com

Savings on prescriptions

(& accessing sites like for discount family entertainment)

These coupons are free and available to anyone who wants to take the time to make a grocery list, (to prevent over buying) and then map out and print coupons for those items. It may not sound like much of a savings, but the average family can pocket another $20-50 per week, ($1000 to $2500 per year) by getting creative with coupons. Every dollar saved takes pressure off of a family which moves them from the survival mode over to feeling stable. When families work together to manage financial pressure they can feel financial peace and the best part is that they did it together.

This way they are creating positive memories of making it through tough financial times as a family who pulled together instead of terrible times of watching one or both parents self-destruct and pull each other apart by spending too much time stuck in the survival mode. There is a better way… find it and deepen your faith and build a stronger family in the process.

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.
Posted by The LifeWorks Team at 6:39 PM

viernes, 4 de junio de 2010

How to 'Freak Yourself Out'

How to 'Freak Yourself Out'
A formula to Steal Motivation

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2010), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit or call 407-647-7005"

By Dwight Bain, Certified Life Coach & Nationally Certified Counselor

Have you ever watched someone ‘freak themselves out?’ If you aren’t familiar with this expression, (which I learned from our teenagers), it means to be so totally stressed you can’t think or function normally. So, back to understanding why people ‘freak out’ since this self-destructive process steals motivation and makes life miserable. Why would people do things to make their life seem worse? Even more importantly, are you doing things that steal your energy and rob you of the motivation? Let’s find out fast if you are living the ‘freaked out’ formula so you can enjoy today, instead of just enduring it.

The ‘Freak Yourself Out’ Formula

First understand there really is a process to create a ‘freaked out’ experience where life goes from bad to worse. It follows a series of predictable steps. ‘Freaked out’ people have conditioned themselves to follow a pattern of behavior that makes every day chaotic and every situation a catastrophe.

They never allow themselves to relax and count blessings because their total focus is on their problems. They don’t actually have good days, just less miserable ones where nothing goes right because they are always looking for the worst possible scenario. It’s like the old saying, “Cheer up- things could get worse. So I cheered up and sure enough, things got worse.”

If the only things you are searching for are more problems, then you can be sure that you will find more than enough to stay stressed out and afraid. Here are the basics of the ‘freak yourself out’ formula and remember the more elements of the formula you have in place, the worse you will feel- guaranteed.

Spiritual Strategies to create Significant Emptiness-

1) Ignore God and anything that would inspire you to see beyond yourself. No Bible reading, no prayer, no journaling or meditation about the blessings of your life, which would stimulate gratitude. Avoid any type of function that takes you out of your own world or that might make you aware of the greater needs in the rest of the world. Just focus on yourself and ignore everyone else.

2) Skip going to any church or concert where you might find inspiration, and make sure to skip any activity that places you around positive or prayerful people. This includes any form of shared music or ministry, including helping the homeless or reaching out to other families who may be facing tough times. As long as you stay focused on yourself and your problems you can feel empty, afraid and alone.

Media Messages to steal Motivation

1) Focus on the evening news and current events, especially big tragedies you can’t do anything about. This approach is guaranteed to discourage you with negative media messages which often are full of depressing images that discourage you with a continual flood of bad news.

2) Make Hollywood celebrities your main focus, especially if they have multi-million dollar lifestyles that you could never hope to obtain. Keep up with the drama of every tiny detail of their lives; in fact spend more time studying what is happening in the lives of famous strangers than you do in studying what is happening in your own life or anyone in your family.

Physical Steps to Feel Miserable

1) Ignore your own health. You can do this faster by neglecting to get enough sleep. Push your body to the limits and never sit still to take quiet times to just sit and rest. Follow the rule that ‘burning out is better than rusting out.’ (Forgetting that either way- you are just out)

2) Stay idle. Sit still and watch TV or the Internet; but never exercise or move around. In fact, stay inside most of the time and never allow yourself to see sunshine or feel the wind on your face. Nature is to be considered evil because being outside often reminds people of the beauty of creation. Use amusing entertainment to replace all forms of physical fitness.

3) Eat anything you want, especially large portions of comfort foods followed by soda with lots of sugar and caffeine. Remember the rule - the worse the food is for you, the worse you will feel. Avoid anything healthy or nutritious if you want to always feel freaked out.

Emotional and Financial Methods to Ruin your Day

1) Keep all your fears inside and never take time to release pressure in healthy ways. No journaling, no mapping out insecurities on paper to prevent feeling panic. And make sure to never set goals that would give you a positive point of view in facing the future. Stuff your stress to make the day worse.

2) Don’t ever budget or create a realistic financial plan – in fact, just let your financial obligations pile up until you feel like you are drowning in debt and financial fears. Not having any idea where you stand financially is sure to make you feel worse.

3) Never tell anyone what keeps you up at night, in fact, avoid any coach, counselor, pastor, family member co-worker or friend who might be a safe person who could help you process your fears to find greater strength. Go it alone to improve your chances of feeling miserable.

How do successful people ‘snap out of it’ to find new energy?
Have you ever felt beat up by life? Can you relate to feeling overwhelmed, undervalued, empty, lonely, unloved, stressed, depressed or afraid? Then you have likely followed the ‘freaked out formula’; but don’t feel bad because I’ve been freaked out before too.

Some of my worst days were spent with a dark cloud of moodiness overhead that I made worse by following the formula. I suspect the same is true for you because everyone feels overwhelmed at times and everyone has been too stressed to face the day.
Successful people have learned to identify the ‘freak out’ formula so they can make rapid adjustments to feel better fast. The real problem is when you feel so exhausted and beat up by life that tomorrow looks worse than yesterday. So what about you -do you wake up refreshed to face a new day with positive energy or do you live ‘freaked out’ day after day?

The Secret to Positive Energy is E-MOTION

The bottom line secret to feeling stronger to break out of the ‘freaked out’ formula is to remember that emotion really could be defined as E-MOTION. This is because when you drift through life with no positive movement, you always feel worse. When you learn to get up and get moving you always feel better and stronger.

Try this simple exercise sometime. Start marching in place and repeat three times, ‘I feel Good’. I know it sounds silly, but if you look in a mirror while marching and swinging your arms in rhythm you can’t help but smile. Just creating movement and motion will improve your mood and fire up your motivation. In other words, you have a lot more control of your mood and motivation than you ever thought possible.

Moving from being ‘Freaked Out’ to Feeling Good Again

Successful people take positive action to break the ‘freak out’ formula. Everyone faces challenges and tough days but some face them with strength by doing the opposite of the formula listed above. I’ve tried it both ways, and in fact ruined some days because of being so moody. Thankfully there were people around me who could say, ‘snap out of it’, ‘get on track’, ‘you were meant for more than this.’

Do you have someone who comes alongside to challenge you with positive steps to break the ‘freak out’ formula? On your worst days do you go it alone, or allow safe people to come close and help? If you don’t have those people know that my purpose in life is to add value to others, so until you believe in you, I’ll believe in you. God placed you on this planet for greater things than you could ever imagine!

Please let today be the day you break the ‘freak out’ formula to really embrace feeling good. No matter what you are facing today, you will face it better by doing the opposite of the formula listed above so you can develop spiritual, emotional, financial and physical strength. You really do have the power to change and make today better. Choose to break the formula and when you do, tell others what you learned so they can break out of the ‘freak out’ formula too.
About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.

viernes, 7 de mayo de 2010

4 key factors to guide unmotivated students toward academic success

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2010), To subscribe to this valuable weekly resource visit or call 407-647-7005"About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.

Have you ever wondered why so many students get close to the ‘finish line’ of a semester or even graduation and then fail to finish? Parents, teachers, guidance counselors and tutors can be cheering for a student to push forward to finish strong and sometimes they just sit down and give up. You’ve probably seen it. A bright young person starts out with promise and potential and then halfway through a semester they literally run out of gas and ‘check out’ as it’s called because they completely lose the motivation to finish school.

Academic Atomic Bombs
When a student ‘checks out’ it isn’t because they don’t know what to do. You can tell them continually that they should be doing their homework, turning in class work, completing reports and playing by the rules to get good grades and move forward with their academic career. Yet they won’t do it. You can beg, you can plead, but basically they stop doing the right thing to oftentimes doing nothing. Since schools reward behavior that is measurable, it’s like creating an academic atomic bomb that literally ‘blows up’ their grades which can wreck a future transcript.

You may be thinking that this is an overreaction, yet many colleges and even prep schools look first at the transcript before they look at the person. If you have ignored, neglected or abused your grades it will hurt your academic future. Yes, I know, schools and universities should look at the person, they should look at character traits or consider someone who is nice or likable, but the fact of the matter is they look at academic performance by looking at grades. If someone ‘checks out’ and gives up on trying to finish strong it will cost them, and if you are the parent or guardian paying for their future education, it will cost you too.

Fear of Success
Failure to Finish isn’t limited to students in school. It can show up in many different areas of life. People who know they should send a thank you note for a kindness given and then procrastinate forever and never get around to it. Creative types with a good idea they believe would help others and maybe make a lot of money, but they just can’t quite get the paperwork filled out to file a patent; then next thing you know they see their idea on an aisle at Wal-Mart and kick themselves for not following up.

I wrote about this huge gap in people knowing what to do, but then never doing it in my book, ‘Destination Success’. Giving up before a big finish is actually driven by the fear of success because it’s not about getting the right information, the right facts, the necessary details. Nope, usually it’s more about the motivation to do what you know you should do. The fact that students fail to finish is in some ways representative of the adult world. Many people don’t do what they know they should do, and sadly many people suffer the consequences of missing out on a lot of joy in life because of it.

Missing the Marathon
If you have ever participated in a marathon you know what I’m talking about. I saw it during a Disney event my little sister Trish talked me into running. We prepared for months and she coached every step of the way on how to finish strong, yet only a few miles into the race there were literally thousands of people in front of us walking. Yes, I said walking! They missed the concept of 26.2, or at least my understanding of what the Greeks had in mind when they created a distance run that only counted if you finished! They missed the marathon concept, just like students miss the very basic idea that no matter how much fun, or misery they may experience in school- it only counts if you finish the race!

So why do so many give up within weeks of the ‘finish line’ at the end of a semester? Here are four main reasons.

1) Fearful
They are afraid about the future, about what life in the ‘adult world’ will be like or afraid to grow up in general. It’s normal to feel afraid, yet someone who is overwhelmed with fears can often become indecisive and ‘zone out.’ Since running away from reality feels easier than facing it for some people they completely deny what’s happening to their grades and future. Some do this in a passive way and just slowly sink, while others try to avoid reality by using substances or media to escape. Yet there is no avoiding the end of a semester, and the end of academic dreams if you let fear overtake your future success.

2) Friends
It’s true. Birds of a feather do flock together, and students who are unmotivated about finishing can find each other across a crowded room. Highly disciplined and super motivated students hang out together to challenge each other toward greater success, and the opposite is true about the undisciplined. Your son or daughter may begin to hang out with the wrong crowd to hide from facing their academic future. Sometimes it’s to irritate their parents, but more often than not it’s because they don’t fit in with the winners at the front of the race, so they just sit down and hang out with those who appear to not care about the educational race they are in… but if you look closely you will see the insecurity and doubt in their eyes.

3) Frustrated
This group could include parents and teachers, but I’m mostly thinking about students who are trying, but it’s just not coming together for them. They want to finish strong, but lack the horsepower to really pull out in front of the crowd. These students are at great risk, because they will face a choice. Finish with mediocre results and try again next semester, or just check out to avoid feeling the pain of not performing to their potential. I’ve especially seen this with highly creative or bright students who partied or procrastinated until the last minute and then couldn’t pull out their grades. Their frustration often comes out as anger directed toward the closest person to them, usually a mom. It’s not fair, but it happens because they let the frustration take over, which blocks their ability to finish strong.

4) Failing
Sadly this group is the easiest to spot because they checked out a long time ago. When a student has reached this level they are so unmotivated that they give up on even trying at the most basic of tasks so their grades become a ‘free fall’ down to zero. To totally and completely fail crushes confidence and for many the desire to try again; which leads many students to give up on school completely and just drop out.

Not finishing education makes sense to them at the time, but it costs serious dollars and cents over the course of a lifetime. Consider these numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau to see how expensive it is to give up on education.

Average Annual Salary
Masters degree $74,602 (or $2,984,080 over a lifetime of work)
Bachelors degree $51,206 (or $2,048240 over a lifetime of work)
High School degree $27,915 (or $1,116,600 over a lifetime of work)

Finding the energy to Finish

So how do you motivate an unmotivated student? Well you start by dealing with your own frustration so you can think clearly about a strategic plan to guide your son or daughter toward the better life that education can bring. Here’s the key areas I use to find a way to inspire a young person to get back in the race and find the energy to finish strong.

1) Insight
This often begins with the parent closest to the student because they already know so much about their personality, their character and their drives. The Bible has a verse that I pray every day, “If any many lacks wisdom let him ask God and it will be given to him.” (James 1 ). Insight is to ask God to reveal the special gifts and abilities that your student has, and no matter how far behind they may be they have some talents. It takes insight to see it and then it takes courage to stick with it to light the fire of desire in the heart of one who may have given up.

2) Interests
One you know which gifts, talents, abilities or skills that you are looking for in a student, the next part is to help them see how those unique gifts could be transferred into something so interesting that they really want to show up and learn more. There is an old saying that the curious are never bored, which is true. When a student is inspired about pursuing something interesting to them they can lose all track of time because they are fascinated with the topic they are studying.

3) Important
Once a student gets inspired to pursue the subjects that are interesting to them, the next element to add to stir up motivation is to discover what is important to them. What is valuable? What activities do they believe in? Everyone believes in something yet often haven’t taken time to explore to discover what causes or activities they are motivated to join.

Here’s a comprehensive list to use to help your student find what is interesting or important to them. Review the categories with your son or daughter to find a logical place to begin getting motivated again.

What is Interesting or Important to Motivate your Student?

Academic Achievement Award, Accelerated Reader, Essay Award, French Honor Society, Geography Bee, Girl Scouts Bronze Award, Honor Roll, Junior National Society, National Jr. Honor Society, Perfect Attendance, Poetry, Reading, Reading Olympiads, Reflections, Writing Essay, Science Olympiads, Spanish National Honor Society, Spelling Bees

F.C.C.L.A, Future Educators of America, Future Farmers of America, Future Problem Solvers, Geography Club, German Club, Girls Athletic Association, Girl Scouts, G.R.E.A.T. Program, History Club, International Club, Journalism Club, Junior Achievement, Junior Beta Club, Junio, Classical League, Key Club, L.O.G.O.S. Youth Program, Latin Club, Letterman Club, Math Club, Math Team, M.E.S.A., Mountain Biking Club, Model UN, Multi-Cultural Club, National Junior Beta Club, National FAA Organization, National Forensic League, Newspaper Club, Odyssey of the Mind, Outdoors Club, People to People Student Ambassador Program, Pep Club, Photography Club, P.R.I.D.E. Program, Quill & Scroll Society, Quiz Bowl, Robotics Club, Running Club, S.A.D.D., S.A.V.E., Science Club, Scrabble Club, Service Club, Sign Language Club, Ski Club, Spanish Club, Speech Team, Sports Club, Stars Club, Stock Market Club, Student Advisory Committee, Student Council Member, Student Government Assoc., Technology Club, Temple Youth Group, Varsity Club, Vocational Industrial Club, Winter guard, Yearbook Staff, Y-Club (YMCA), U.S. Achievement Academy, Youth Leadership Program

4-H Club, Academic Team, Acteens, Awana, Assisteens, Beta Club, Bible Club, Builders Club, Book Club, Boy Scouts, Boys & Girls Club, C.A.R.E. Program, Chess Club, Church Youth Group, Civil Air Patrol, Computer Club, Dance Club, Drama Club, Debate Team, D.E.C.A., English Club, Environmental Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Foreign Language Club, French Club, Future Business Leaders of America, Class Officer, Class Representative, Community Volunteer, Hospital Aid, Library Aide, Editor, Photographer, Reporter Office Aide, Peer Mediator, Peer Tutor, Red Cross Aide/Volunteer, Junior Engineering Technical Society, Safety Patrol, Special Olympics Volunteer, Student Ambassador, Teacher’s Aide, Yearbook Editor, Yearbook Photographer, Yearbook Reporter, Astronomy, Babysitting, Computers, Cooking, Making Models, Modeling, Pageantry, Painting, Photography, Playing Guitar, Playing Piano, Playing Violin, Playing Drums, Scrap booking, Sewing, Mystery Shopper, Singing, Traveling, Spending Time w/ Family & Friends, Video Games, Writing Stories, Writing, Poetry

Acting, Art, Arts & Crafts, Dancing, Drawing, Acapella Choir, Acrobatics, Art Club, Band, Chorus, Orchestra, Ballet, Baton Twirling, Band, Chamber Orchestra, Choir, Chorus, Church Choir, Church Dance Team, Church Drama Team, Church Musicals, Church Plays, Drum Major, Drum Majorette, Clogging, Color Guard, Community Theater, Dance Team, Drama, Drill Team, Flag Corps, Handbell Choir, Hip Hop Dance, Irish Step Dance, Jazz, Jazz Band, Jazz Dance, Marching Band, Modern Dance, Music, Orchestra, Praise Dance, Pep Band, School Choir, School Musicals, School Plays, Show Choir, Stage Crew, Step Team, Swing Chorus, Symphonic Band, Talent Shows, Tap Dance, Variety Shows,

Archery, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Biking, Billiards, Boating, Bowling, Boxing, Camping, Canoeing, Cheerleading, Cross Country, Dirt Biking, Diving, Field Hockey, Fishing, Flag Football, Floor Hockey, Fencing, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Pop Warner Score Keeper, Sports Reporter, Sports Manager, Presidential Physical Fitness Award, Gymnastics, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Ice Hockey, Ice Skating, Karate, Kayaking, Lacrosse, Motocross, Paintball, Pom Pom Squad, Powder-Puff Football, Racquetball, Rock Climbing, Rollerblading, Roller Hockey, Roller Skating, Rugby, Running, Sailing, Scuba Diving, Skateboarding, Skating, Skeet Shooting, Snow Skiing, Skimboarding, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling, Soccer, Softball, Surfing, Swimming, Table Tennis, Black Belt/Tae Kwon Do, Tennis, Track, Track & Field, Tumbling, Volleyball, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Water Polo, Weightlifting, Woodworking, Wrestling, Yoga

Now that you have generated the insight to map out the key areas that motivate your student you are ready for the final stage.

4) Identity
When a student has figured out who they are, and what they enjoy doing, they are actually living out their purpose and having fun doing it! Perhaps the huge success of the Disney television movies, “High School Musical” is because it shows what most students would like their school experience to be. At this level a young person is totally excited about going to school because when they know why they are going it’s not hard to stay in the race. In fact, it makes it easy to move from a failure to finish to moving forward with a new dedication to finish strong!

Bonus Scholarship Strategies
When a student gets motivated to be their best, you can log on to any of the following websites to begin the search for the extra educational income for them to move forward to a new level of academic success.

"I Don't Want to Pay for College"
College Board
College Net
FAFSA (Financial Aid)
Fast Aid
Fast Web
Financial Aid
FL Funding Publications
Free Scholarship Search
Go College
Petersons Educational Portal
Valencia Foundation
Wired Scholar
Holocaust Remembrance
College Prowler
Maryknoll Essay
Ranger Battalions Ass. of WWII
Flipnot Innovations
Brianstorm USA
Brickfish Scholarship
Navy League Foundation
Horatio Alger Scholarship
The Anne Ford Scholarship
Ronald McDonald House
Cappex Hardship Scholarship
American Fire Sprinkler
Into the Best, Inc/Free Will
Women Marine Association/

martes, 6 de abril de 2010

"Is that contestant on American Idol a Christian? Scorecard"

WOW!! I’m so excited to take part in this blog post project that "Stuff Christians Like" is conducting. The topic: “Is that contestant on American Idol a Christian Scorecard”….

Here’s my one clue:

During rehearsal they mention that they are really into “doing things with excellence,” which is such a Christian phrase they might as well say they are "blessed to sing" = + 1 point

To add up your score with over a 130 other ideas on this scorecard, visit

Datos personales

Mi foto
I was born once in my dear city of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, where I now live once more, after living 18 years in the state of Massachusetts where I was born again.