Share Retirement Dreams for Chance to Win Free Book

Let’s dream a little bit.  Most people think more about their next vacation than they ever think about retirement.  But I believe that’s mostly because people get sidetracked by the numbers and forget the dreams.

So leave a comment and share what your retirement dreams are.  For your participation, one lucky commenter will win a free copy of the #1 New York Times Bestselling book, Retired Inspired.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

Retire Inspired Giveaway

Why Fear is Not a Reason to Vote

If you haven’t been paying attention for the past few months, then you’ve missed the selections of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as major party nominees for this year’s Presidential Election.  With those selections have come anxiety, worry, and any other emotions associated with fear.

But why fear? Why is fear the most prevalent emotion presently?  Let’s allow nationally-recognized pastor, Max Lucado, introduce this bewilderment a little more deeply.

There’s an angst in the country, and I think there’s a fear.  I think there’s a fear of we don’t know what’s next.  And I’ve tried, maybe you can help me, I’ve tried to put my finger on the root of this fear.  – Max Lucado

Lucado goes on to say he believes this fear comes from a disconnect with God and a disconnect with fellow man.

I tend to agree with him as Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

So if you’re a Christian reading this, I plead with you to stop being fearful.  If you knew how much weight has truly been lifted from you, then you would not sweat something as trivial as politics.  However, based on some of the anger that I am seeing displayed, it’s fairly evident that you are in a deep panic.

If you’re anyone else reading this, I plead with you to stop being fearful as well.  Fear just isn’t going to solve your problems.  Fear almost always causes poor decision-making.  And likewise, it’s a terrible reason to vote.

In fact, neuroscience research from a few years ago suggests the following remedy when gripped with fear: neutralize the situation.

This means not being a fearmonger.  It means avoiding people who are overly pessimistic about the economy. It means tuning out media that fan emotional flames.  Unless you are a day-trader, it means closing the web page with the market ticker.  It does mean being prepared, but not being a hypervigilant, everyone-in-the-bunker type.

I don’t know about you, but I hate fear.  It robs me of friendships—new and old.  It robs me of critical-thinking skills.  And it robs me of joy.  Like any thief, I want it out of my life.  It’s my hope that you will eventually want fear out of your life too.

In relation to the current election, kick fear to the curb before you hit the voting booths.  If we keep fear around, it will build up strength and make us believe we have fewer choices than we actually have.

So be courageous.  No vote submitted from a position of courage is ever a wasted vote.  Not yesterday. Not now.  Not ever.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

Trump Clinton

Tuscaloosa: A Rally for Peace and Unity in our City

A dear friend of mine, Pastor Fred Schuckert, has diligently and humbly met with several leaders around our city in order to promote peace and unity.  Here is his call to action that he asked people to share:

I met this morning with Schmidt Moore and a handful of other pastors concerning the rising racial tensions related to the deaths of young black men by police officers in various cities and also the senseless killing of policemen in Dallas.  We talked with our mayor and police chief about having a prayer gathering for peace and unity in our city.  They were in favor of this, including the mayor and police chief of Northport.

At 7:00 this Sunday evening, July 10, at Government Plaza downtown, we will be having a “rally for Peace and Unity in our City.”  If it rains, we will meet at Bethel Baptist Church located at 3003 25th St, Tuscaloosa, AL ·

We are inviting the whole church in our city to participate.  Please share this with other Christians you have contact with in the greater Tuscaloosa area.

We are very fortunate to have outstanding governmental officials and law enforcement in our city and county. We want to pray for them as well as for the families of these young black men and police officers who have been killed.

Please help share Pastor Fred’s message.  Like, share, and retweet.

Photo Credit: http://www.harrison-const.com/

Photo Credit: http://www.harrison-const.com/

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or at AL.com here.

How Long-Distance Couples Decide Who Has to Quit

Long-distance emotional stress affects military spouses or newly married spouses quite often.   It also affects couples who have a spouse that has received a dream job offer in a distant city.   If you and your spouse work with employers that are hundreds and thousands of miles apart, then you have a pretty arduous decision ahead of you: determining which one of you has to quit.

This can be very difficult because both spouses may love their jobs; however, spouses need to love each other more than their jobs.  Firstly, seek to see if you can just transfer within your current company.  Secondly, if this is not possible or takes too much lead-time, then you will have to quit.  This does not have to be an immediate resignation, but you definitely need to get the ball rolling in that direction.

It’s been a while, but my wife and I have been in those shoes.  When we got married 5 years ago, I ended up being the spouse that moved.  That certainly wasn’t the only option we had, but it ended up being the best option for us long-term.

Have you and your spouse ever been in this situation?

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or at AL.com here.

Kissing

Originally posted on my LinkedIn back in August 2015.

How Data Can Improve Your Prayer Life

In most areas of life, you would never rush to your leader with a huge request without first collecting data.  There are three reasons for avoiding this.

First, your leader might actually grant your hasty request.  Unfortunately, this can create additional issues if the request doesn’t solve your problem or if it births extra problems.

Second, your leader may deny your request because the results seem unclear or unsafe.

Third, your leader may deny your request simply because you already possess what you need.

Things don’t have to end up this way.  The results of prayer can be so much better than this.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe prayer is foundational—whether in scarcity or in abundance.  I wholeheartedly believe in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 when it says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

At the same time though, I agree with Matthew 6 when it says, “When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

Instead, God is a God of data.  A God of information.  And he wants us to be that way too.

This is particularly true when praying for loved ones or for your community.

For example, James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

If God wanted us to pray for one another without information, he would have nixed any recommendation for confession.

Access to personal confession isn’t always available, but prayer is still required.  This is particularly true when praying for large groups of people.  In this situation, you may need to rely on survey data or sampling data to get an idea of what burdens need to be given to the Lord.

Without reliable data, our prayers lack precision.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think God needs our prayers to be precise to answer our prayers.  God is all-powerful and all-knowing even when we don’t communicate well with him.

Instead, the precision is for us.  If we aren’t precise, it makes it difficult for us to know what’s truly going on.  For example, we might feel we have a need for an immediate financial rescue.  If we aren’t precise, we make it difficult to see the possible answers that God may have for us.

Sure, we may notice a pay increase.  That’s fairly obvious and upfront.  But if we aren’t precise, we may not realize that we have a leaky faucet in a guest bathroom.  We may not realize that we have a streak of jealousy that’s causing us to buy unnecessary purchases.  We may not realize that God may simply want us to be patient.

So I plead with everyone who is reading this.  Seek the data in your lives.  It’s the key to deeper communication with each other as well as with the Lord.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

02 Prayer with Text

There Are Only 3 Types of Homeowner Personalities

Every neighborhood has them.  Every friend group has them.  They’re everywhere like gnats in the summer time.  But can you quickly identify the three types of homeowner personalities if you encountered them? Have no fear.  The answers are here.

The Nit Picker Personality

NaggingThis is your former roommate.  Don’t you remember him?  He was always complaining about how your apartment was not as good as someone else’s.  It was quite annoying while you were in a lease together, but now you’re stuck together in the same poker group.

Things haven’t changed too much except the item of ridicule isn’t an apartment anymore—it’s a house.  Ironically, your old buddy is in the house of his dreams—from two months ago.  Ever since moving into the house, he hasn’t said a positive word about the place.

End Result: He will take the negative-equity hit and move into a “better” house.

The Delusional Personality

DenialThis is the lady that sits next to you at work.  She and her husband live in a house with a mortgage that consumes way too much of their monthly take-home pay.  And that’s not including electricity, maintenance, and other house-related things that cost money.

Unfortunately, they won’t sell the house because they are holding on to hope the husband will get another high-paying job again.  He got laid off 3 years ago and has never really fully-recovered.  Don’t worry though.  That doesn’t keep them from using debt to give off the impression that everything is still okay.  After all, the kids are in amazing school district where they are now.

End Result: She will eventually be punished with a foreclosure.  To make matters worse, her husband cheated on her with a neighbor down the street.

The Contented Personality

contentmentThis personality is rare.  It is so rare and silent that you simply may not have noticed it.  The person is the assistant manager of your favorite local fast food restaurant.  In fact, he or she comes home smelling like fries every single day.

Despite the smells, this person makes the best of every situation.  He or she may not have all the perks imaginable, but that doesn’t stop creativity from happening.  He or she is quietly becoming a millionaire right in front of your eyes.

End Result: This person will not move very often, but when he or she does move, it’s with a purpose.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

While Family Sleeps, Increase Your Skills and Abilities

night-owlChances are very likely that if you are reading this, you are not doing so right after midnight.  If you look at the time stamp of this posting though, you will notice that, in fact, it was posted right after midnight.

That strange time frame is not by accident.  I intentionally try to get postings like this done while my family is asleep and doesn’t care what I’m doing.  That’s no slight on my family, but they primarily want me to care about them while I’m with them.  And deservedly so.  However, many major things for my family and for myself would never get done if I didn’t make the best use of the inconvenient times of the day.

For example, my entire household is asleep by 8:30pm central.  In most places, that’s still considered early, and it is considered early for me too.  So when the family sleeps, I get to work.

  • Business school homework and assignments
  • Church projects that can be done from home
  • Literature of the non-fiction , uplifting variety
  • Family budgeting and long-range planning
  • Catching back up with missed emails and calls
  • Decluttering, reorganizing, and doing laundry
  • Laughing aloud with friends on social media
  • Heroically rocking our toddler back to sleep
  • The list goes on, and on, and on, and on

While it may seem a bit overwhelming, I’ve naturally become more effective at the above activities simply because I perform them regularly.  As the old adage goes, “we become what we practice.”

So that’s my story.  What are some tasks that you would like to become better at or more intentional about?

Leave a reply in the comments section, and please hit subscribe.

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or AL.com.

Debunking daylight savings time myths

Well, it is that time of year again.  Daylight Savings Time (DST) starts this Sunday morning and along with it starts the hysteria of DST myths.

For people who are easily frustrated by nonsensical behaviors, this is a particularly tough time of year.  However, with a little bit of myth-busting, this time of year can be a very refreshing change of pace.  Let’s review the following to see just how little effect DST has on the environment around us.

 “Makes the Days Are Longer”

This is wrong, wrong, and wrong.  In both connotations of the word “days,” this is an incorrect statement.  Firstly, a day is always 24 hours no matter how you slice it.  Secondly, daylight hours in our region flex from minimum of 10 hours at winter solstice to a maximum of 14 hours at summer solstice.  This is dependent on position relative to the North Pole not on whether the clocks are set a certain way.

“Makes Bedtime Shorter”

This has less to do with the time change and more to do with the fact that you just simply more active in the warmer months than the colder months.  For instance, going to the movies is much more popular in the warm months than the colder months.  Going to the movies takes up time that you would normally be at home sleeping.  So blame the movie theater not your clock.

“Makes More Difficult to Wake Up”

Well, if you’re getting less sleep in the summer, then likewise, it will be more difficult to wake up when you need to wake up.

“Makes People Crazy”

Again, people are not sleeping due to lifestyle decisions not the clock.

Those are just a few of the oft quoted wives’ tales that spread like wildfire this time of year.  Hopefully, this list gives you enough info to extinguish that wildfire in your life for good.

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or AL.com.

Sunrise by Alex Indigo (Flickr)

Choose Your Coworkers Wisely

Coworkers can be a blessing, or they can be a curse.   Nothing is more crucial than having the right mix of people around you to make your day more productive and more fulfilling.  But how do you make sure your coworkers are a blessing and not a curse?

Well, if you’re going to spend over 50 percent of your waking day at a workplace, you really want to vet your potential coworkers as much as possible before you start working with them.  Once you accept a job offer or a department transfer, you’re often stuck with your decision for an extended period of time.

So talk to potential workers, scan online reviews, read about the company culture, and ask your potential boss as many questions as possible.  If you do all of those things and still have a warm and fuzzy feeling, then you should feel pretty comfortable about signing the dotted line on a job offer.

From there, all you can do is pray and hope for the best.

This post was previously written by Ben on LinkedIn.

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter

Types-People-You-Work

Delayed Gratification is not Set in Stone

More often than not, delayed gratification is viewed as a four-letter word that means permanent denial of happiness.  That’s not a healthy definition or an accurate definition as delayed gratification is actually a temporary experience.  If it lasts forever, then it’s not delayed gratification.  That being said, it’s not hard to see why delayed gratification or healthy discipline gets a bad rap.

Hebrews 12:11

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

There are multiple applications for this verse: financial discipline, sexual discipline, athletic discipline, educational discipline, and etc.  If we want to be successful in any area of our lives, it will require some level of discipline.  There’s no way around it.

Fortunately, it becomes easier to live out Hebrews 12:11 if we don’t put all of our focus on the first sentence of the verse.  We get so caught up in the pain of discipline that we overlook the harvest of righteousness and peace.  Simply correcting that shortsightedness will change our lives forever.

Follow @Ben_Baxter on Twitter. Or find him on AL.com and TouchdownAlabama.net.

Delayed Gratification