Understanding the Ins and Outs of Payday Loans

Financial problems can be extremely stressful especially if you need the money instantly. Emergency expenses such as for health reasons, tuition, bills, repairs, mortgage on imminent due date, and more can strike when you least expect it. For average-earning employees, facing these financial deadlines could mean sleepless nights and inevitable headaches. So, what could be a possible solution? You may opt to apply for what is referred to as payday loans.

Definition

Payday loans are generally short-term loans that offer a quick solution to your financial woes and can be paid on your next payday, hence, the name. Most of these payday loans are offered to people who needs money urgently and are willing to repay during the next payday with a hefty interest factored in. Payday loan companies are now growing at a considerable rate, making it one of the industries often searched on the web. Availing this loan is considered simpler as compared to other loans that banks and financial institutions offer.

The Criteria

Payday loans are unique in terms of the application, processing, as well as the turn-around time. While most of the lenders boast ‘a no credit checking’ system, borrows still need to pass certain criteria to qualify. For example, borrowers must be of legal age and must possess a bank account. Another important requirement is to provide a document that would ensure that you have a steady earning and would be able to repay the amount loaned on time. Many lenders require completion of a document before the loan is processed. One of the easiest and most convenient method to apply is by sending all forms and requirements online. It is also vital to point out that such type of loan is far more lenient than traditional loans you know. For instance, people with awful credit score may still avail of the services.

The Amount and the Payment Terms

Generally, the loanable amount varies per state or per country. For instance, in the US, there are still states where payday loans are deemed illegal. However, in some states, borrowers can borrow between $50- $10,000 depending on the credit score. It is important to understand; however, that even if you borrow a hefty amount of money, you still have to repay it within a short period of time.

Lenders also charge borrower’s interest rates called the APR (short for the Annual Percentage Rate). Although states have their own ways of imposing strict APR’s on loans, the interest rate calculated on payday loans is still considerably higher than the regular type of loans. An average of 20% of you loaned amount is a conservative estimate of the interest that could be possibly added to your loan principal. A rolling interest is imposed once a borrower fails to pay right on time. It is always best to check whether your state has specific restrictions on payday loans to avoid any unnecessary charges. Get to know the local regulations and you would be able to apply for a loan with no problem at all.

The Benefits

Availing short-term loans can be advantageous, too. Check the following list to further understand the upside of this type of loan:

• Easy processing of the loan. As most applications can be completed online, approval and release of loan can be done within the day. Most providers deposit the amount loaned within 24 hours or the following business day. Having a quick access to money is one of the biggest advantages of this loan.

• Convenient repayment channels. There is no need to go to the office as borrowers can repay their loaned amount through an auto-debited account. This is why an active current or checking account is necessary to provide upon the application period.

• Having a bad credit history is not a problem. Most banks would turn down applicants with bad credit standing. With payday loans, this point is waived.

• No collateral required. No hassle and no other documents required apart from the application form ad banking details.

The Downside

• Not all states are legally authorized to offer payday loans. You must check this info first.

• The cost and fees are considerably high. The APR, as well as processing fees, can be higher than other types of loans. If you are unwilling to pay for massive interest rate, then it is better to study your other options well.

• Being unable to pay on time also leads to bigger penalties and interests.

With a number of payday loans providers, it is a must to make comparisons. For instance, reading reviews will be helpful. Borrowers must also remember that these loans are designed to provide a solution. Therefore, it is a must to repay on a timely manner. Otherwise, a bigger financial problem may come your way. In other words, use payday loans as a way to resolve the problem and not as a platform to get into a bigger one.

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The Fast and Effective Tips For Getting Payday Loans

Online pay-day loans fall into the category of short-term loans that are available at standard interest rates. They are approved at least within ninety days in between the next pay-day. While you can obtain this type of fund from the office of a reliable lender, there is also the provision where you can acquire it through a reliable online finance company. This article will highlight on a few important tips that you should consider in order to get a pay-day loan from a reliable finance company by all possible means.

The first step that you should follow is to do a bit of research to find out a reliable finance company that provides this type of loan by all possible means. All you need is to visit the website of the company in order to learn its essential policies as much as you can. It is vital that you should check out if it charges hidden charges from you at any point of time. You should check out the interest rates that you will be charged and you should also try to find out the total amount of fees that you will be charged if you fail to pay it back at the right time.

The second step that you should follow is to find out websites that contain reviews of this type of organization in the best possible way. If you are unable to find out any such review about it then it is advisable that you should try out other sources as well. All you need is to visit the local agency to find out any such review as quickly as possible. If you find a negative review or rating, it is advisable that you should look out for an alternative option as quickly as possible.

Once you have determined to obtain the service of this type of company, the next step that you should follow is to find out the total amount of money that you need to meet your financial requirement. Your next step is to find out if this type of company asks you for any fee if you do not pay it back within the scheduled period of time.

You should try to gather the necessary information in order to fill up the application form for this type of fund in the best possible way. It is vital to remember that the necessary information that are required to fill up this form include the details of bank account, address, telephone number, age verification certificate, social security number, employment proof, contact information of your current employer and so on.

Once you fill up the application form completely, it is advisable that you should wait patiently till it is approved within the scheduled period of time. It is vital to remember that this type of company approves it within three or four days after you have submitted your application form. In fact, this kind of company uses email in order to get in touch with you and it even sends email in order to inform you even if it is not being approved within the scheduled period of time.

Once it is approved within the scheduled period of time, this type of company can transfer your money without any kind of delay. It is vital to remember that if you allow this type of company to access your own account, it means that it can take out money that you actually owe it whenever the day of payment arrives.

If you think that you will not be able to repay the total amount of money within the scheduled period of time, it is advisable that you should renew it as quickly as possible. Although it will charge you a few amount of money, it will however not charge you a high amount of money as late fee.

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10 Tips Before Applying For Payday Loans

1. Automate the debt payment – Payday loans are issued to individuals who have a stable source of income. In other words, your application will be approved only if you have a regular income or salary every month. It would be so much simpler if you can just repay the debt with the money you receive next month. However there are some people who are not able to do that. They would spend the money elsewhere and be left with little for the repayment. So visit the bank and automate the debt repayment. The money should go to your creditor as soon as it reaches your bank. You can spend the balance left in your account. In fact most creditors have the automate payments forms with them. Just ask them and they shall be able to provide you the same. If you take a loan from us, you have the option to make the repayment in an automated mode. On your payday the cash will be directly debited from your account and credited to our account automatically. You may forget to pay so this is the safest route to avoid late payments. Some people have cash but forget to pay, so automating the payments is a great way to avoid late fees. In fact you must automate your payments for all your credit cards.

2. Cut your expenses – You are in debt, so the last thing you should do is spend a lot of it. Make this the central objective of your life for the time being at least. So go ahead. Reduce your expenses wherever you can. Make a plan. Go back to the drawing board and see where you can cut the expenses. Get rid of the costly cell phone plan or cable package. Get something simpler. Try to reduce your grocery budget. There is always something you can do without. You can get rid of the debt easier this way, and will also be left with money in your account that you can save every month. This will help you in the long-term.

One of the best ways to stop spending on things that you do not need is to stop watching TV or reduce watching to a large extend. They show all kids of excellent advertisements and we are compelled to buy. Just do not see them and you stop buying products with little or no use. And of course save money.

2. Increase your income – Have you ever thought of trying to earn more money? By doing this you will certainly be able to pay off the debt quickly. A second stream of income may help you avoid taking a loan in the future as well. Contrary to what many believe, earning a second income isn’t really that difficult. For instance, you could sell off all those unwanted things you have on eBay. You will make some quick money to pay off the debt, and will also be able to reduce the clutter at home. You may also start a blog to make some extra cash for the long-term. Or you may find week-end jobs. There are plenty of ways to make some extra bucks. You just need to try.

3. Make small payments – The term of a payday loan is small – you have to repay the money after receiving next month’s pay check. But if you can make some extra cash in the meantime, then you may consider paying off a portion of your debt with it. This will help you keep your burden in check, and will make it that much easier for you to repay later on. Plus, if you keep repaying, then you won’t be wasting the extra money you are making. Find out from your payday lender if you are allowed to make small payments in the middle of the month.

4. Is there a prepayment penalty – Sometimes there is a prepayment penalty if you pay off the debt early. Ask the creditor while you are taking the loan. If you have taken a loan already with the penalty, then calculate how much it would be in money terms compared to the interest you will save if you pay it earlier. This will help you arrive at the right conclusion on whether you should pay off early.

5. Lower the interest rate – Try to negotiate with the lending company if you can. See whether they are willing to reduce the interest rate. Sometimes, a few companies will oblige, because they too want to do business. These agencies might agree if they see that you are serious about trying to repay your debt. It’s always going to be easier for you if you have to pay off the debt at a lower interest.

6. Borrow against life insurance – One advantage of a payday loan is that, you can get the money you need very fast. It can be transferred to your bank account in 24-48 hours. That is perfect in an emergency. But once you have the money, you will have some time in your hand. So you can try other options. For instance, you can borrow against your life insurance and other savings and policies to repay your existing debt. Yes you will be receiving less money later, but that’s a small price to pay for leaking cash at this point in life. Life insurance interest is below the commercial rates, so you will be saving more than you spend.

7. Borrow from your 401(k) – Similar to the point above, you can borrow up to 50% if you participate in a 401(k) retirement plan at work. So see how much money you have in your account and take out a portion of this to repay your debt. Don’t worry. Payday loans are small dollar loans anyway, so you won’t have to take out too much money.

8. Renegotiate the terms – If for some reason you see at the end of the month that you cannot still pay back the loan, then try to renegotiate the terms with the creditor. Convince the lending agency that you remain serious about paying it back, and there will be many who will try their best to help you. Perhaps your fees or interest can be reduced. You never know unless you ask. After all, the payday company too wants to get the money back. Our lenders will co-operate with you if you inform them well in advance that you will repay your loan but you need some time. Our lenders will work with you to find a plan that works best with both you and the lenders. But please inform them at least one week in advance.

10. Get eligible tax deductions – Are you getting all the lucrative and eligible tax deductions? You will be surprised to know that many people don’t get this simply because they don’t know the details. Get professional tax help if you need. This will help you in your long-term financial health. You will have extra money with which you can pay off the debt. In fact, you may not even need the loan

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10 Reasons Why Believing in a Christian God Is Good for You

NO WORRIES It’s good to know we can hand all our cares and anxieties to God. 1 Peter 5 6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” It’s a great relief to know that God is always there to take care of business, so we don’t have to worry.
SEE BENEATH THE SKIN If we believe in God we don’t need to be concerned about how we look. There is no need to worry about our outward appearance because as 1 Samuel 16.7 tells us: “… the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” If we see others as God sees them, in other words by what’s in their heart, we become better, happier people.
NO NEED TO GOSSIP Social media offers plenty of opportunity for slander and criticism. James gives good advice on this (4:11-12): “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you-who are you to judge your neighbour?” In other words we are in no position to criticize.
HAVE FAITH When we believe in God, we have faith, and faith brings salvation; see Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” What does this really mean? It means trusting in God is a gift so we don’t have to work for it. And faith is its own reward, releasing us from all futile desires and endeavours and sorting out what really matters, the elimination of wicked thoughts.
STAY HEALTHY WITHOUT HAVING TO DIET When we believe in God we don’t have to worry about what we eat. Exodus 23.25 says, “Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water.”
BE STRONG WHEN YOUR HEART IS BROKEN Read Psalm 147.3 which says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Trying to get over the loss of a loved one through bereavement or separation is one of the hardest trials we have to endure. The journey is a lot easier when God is with us.
YOU CAN STAY IN GOOD PHYSICAL SHAPE ALWAYS Exodus 15.26 “For I am the God who heals you.” As Christians we expect good health through prayer and meditation. The only way to see if it works is to try it.
YOU NEVER HAVE TO ASK “WHY AM I HERE?” Pointless existential questions disappear when we believe in God. His purpose for our life becomes manifest and fruitful. Psalm 57:2 says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” The deal is this: if we make all our choices with God in mind, He will fulfil his purpose through us. No more vexing over meaningless days as every day and everything we do has meaning in God’s eyes.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT DYING Ecclesiastes 12.7 says about death “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” This is such a comforting thought, to know that we are eternal spirits, that our appointed time on earth is temporary and our future will be spent in everlasting glory.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WASTE TIME WONDERING WHERE THE UNIVERSE CAME FROM “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) This is all we need to know about the origins of our environment. And of course, God made us too.What is there not to like?

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Is My Pain From Tight Muscles Or Could It Be From Something Else

During the past 35 years of my chiropractic practice, I have been asked many times “Is my neck and back pain from tight muscles or could it be something else?” This article will discuss muscular pain, and other sources of discomfort and how relief of neck and back pain can be achieved.

Recently a patient in her early 30s came to my office with a complaint of chronic lower back pain. Her job required her to perform rigorous physical activities of installing flooring and carpeting. She told me that her discomfort was interfering with her ability to perform her work duties. She was afraid that she would have to discontinue that line of work and take another vocation because of her condition.

When I asked her what she had done previously to help with the problem, she told me she had seen orthopedic specialists who gave her steroid medication and muscle relaxers. She had also seen physical therapists who gave her stretching exercises. She noted these measures gave her some temporary relief but didn’t completely resolve her pain.

When I examined her, we found that she definitely had muscle spasms of her low back. However, her examination revealed a more significant deeper problem. Her muscles were tight and in spasm because they were trying to protect deeper spinal joint misalignments.

I told her that the body will always work to protect an injured area. In her case, her muscles were chronically tight and in spasm because they were doing what they are supposed to do to keep her condition from worsening.

Let’s take a moment to explain the difference between muscular pain and pain from other sources. If we over-use our muscles, they can be sore and go into some degree of spasm; it might be mild, or it could be severe. Typically, this muscle discomfort eases over the course of several days as the body heals itself. This is a completely normal type of healing.

However, if the source of the condition is from a deeper problem, such as a misalignment of spinal joints, superficial muscular pain will be continuous and become chronic. If this is the case treatment of the muscles will only result in temporary, minimal pain relief at best. To correct the problem, we must address the deeper source of pain. Pain relief can only occur if we solve what’s causing the problem.

In my patient’s case, treatment consisted of utilizing gentle, chiropractic spinal adjustments to correct the misalignment of the spinal bones of her back. After her first treatment she immediately felt the muscular spasm relax and loosen. She said: “Wow, I feel looser already!” It took some more treatments of safe, chiropractic adjustments to fully correct the deeper alignment problem so that she could perform her job free of pain.

Chiropractors are specialist healthcare providers, when it comes to relieving spinal neck pain and pain of the lower spine. Chiropractors are trained to diagnose and treat physical, mechanical alignment problems of spine pain. Most patients who go to chiropractors find that having chiropractic treatment is a safe, pleasant experience because it relieves tightness and spasm of the muscles by correcting the deeper spinal misalignment.

Remember, sore muscles should normally heal after a few days of rest. If, however, chronic muscular tightness, stiffness or spasm persists, it is most likely due to a deeper spinal misalignment problem. In this case, it is prudent to seek gentle, safe chiropractic care for muscle pain relief.

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SEO Services in Digital Marketing

SEO is complex small business SEO doesn’t make it any smaller than big business SEO. You can do the bare minimum but if you don’t do all the tactics, you’re wasting your efforts. SEO requires ongoing work and is not sufficient to do it only once. There are one-time optimizations with no maintenance but SEO is an ongoing work in progress. It comprises:

1. Publishing new content regularly

2. Renewing existing pages frequently

3. Adding new links to new pages and going back to old pages

4. Adding new links to new pages and going back to old pages

5. Promoting content via channels such as social media and email

Often many times small business owners have plenty on their plate with their day-to-day activities. With the assistance of an SEO services company your site can create traffic and leads for you while you can focus on your customers. A professional SEO service provider has the best tools and the knowledge to leverage your business.

You may be at a point where you are thinking of hiring an SEO services company for your business. However, you are wondering what they do. In this segment, we will take a closer look, have a clear picture and become aware of the terms used in conversations with an SEO service provider.

On-page SEO

The efforts that an SEO services company does focuses on ‘crawlability’ and usability of your website pages. They will optimize your sections of the website that the public sees and that are read by the search engines. This comprises:

1. Content: They will make your content relevant to the keywords you are ranking for.

2. Structure: They will arrange your linking hierarchy and make search engines easily crawl.

3. Meta Data: They guarantee your page has title tags, image tags, headers, meta descriptions that have targeted keywords.

4. Experience: They will identify how engaging your page is and provide feedback for improvement from a user experience perspective.

Off-page SEO

This involved your website’s backend essentials. They will help you with:

1. Site Performance: This encompasses website responsiveness, load speed, and image size functionable on all devices.

2. Domain Authority: They will make sure you are on the good side with Google terms.

3. Backlinks: They will help you construct links to your site from other reliable websites.

Advantages of Using a Website SEO Service

Website SEO services are mandatory to enhance the ranking and visibility of the website to your targeted customers and can benefit your business. Let’s see a few benefits:

Increased Traffic

SEO Services use specialized and tested SEO optimization techniques to increase website traffic, which directly affects business profit. An SEO expert performs the audits and makes essential changes to the website that are crucial for your online business success. This means you can pay close attention to other aspects of your business, such as your product/service offer and customers.

Return on investment

When you spend on SEO services to rank your website you bring more visitors, the conversion rate will increase automatically, and you can make money most effectively.

Guaranteed Success

The expert teams have years of experience with on-page and off-page optimization of the website content. The service providers know how to achieve outstanding results quickly, and they use analytical data to ensure that efforts are going in the right way to increase your sales.

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5 Of the Hottest Digital Marketing Jobs

In case you’re hoping to change into or fabricate a vocation in the circle of digital marketing, you’re doubtlessly glancing at the perfect spot. This is on the grounds that there are a huge load of various professions in this field, every one of which is very changed as far as required ranges of abilities just as inclination and regular capacities.

Regardless of whether you veer towards business and the board, tech or the innovative finish of the range, there will consistently be advanced positions accessible. Here’s a breakdown of a portion of the regions that are required to be popular and have a strong compensation direction in the coming years.

1. Content Managers and Strategists

Content administration is actually a focal part for any organization or digital marketing group as it addresses practically all degrees of marketing – and it incorporates considerably more than simply composing and online media movement.

Content administrators need to comprehend not just how to make SEO-accommodating substance starting from the earliest stage, yet how to coordinate, store, and oversee it too. They need to see how it takes care of various subsets of the marketing plan. They additionally need to have a grip on the most proficient method to create and share the colossal assortment of content that is out there.

2. Virtual Reality Developers and Editors

This is a significant innovative work however it’s so new and intriguing and there’s a lot of space for the individuals who are in the domain of imaginative – tech. In the event that you are somebody with a foundation that consolidates innovation and imagination, on the off chance that you are into illustrations or even embellishments, virtual reality may be an incredible field for you.

Individuals come into virtual reality from the video expressions or in the event that they are knowledgeable in different innovative programming suites. You may wind up with a chief sort job or begin as a partner, analyzer or editorial manager.

3. Search Engine optimization/SEM Specialists

Search engine optimization and SEM are significant for strong digital marketing campaigns and to this end, any individual who can show a strong specialized information and join it with digital marketing aptitude, particularly in the administrative finish of the range, will be the most elevated worker in this field.

Search engine optimization and SEM are hard to represent considerable authority in, to some extent since search engine algorithms are continually fluctuating. Organizations should keep awake to-date to have a reliably high ROI and the greater the business is, the more unpredictable this can be. Moreover, online business locales and those that rely exceptionally upon web traffic for benefits will be especially subject to a solid SEO/SEM system.

4. UX Designer

Client Experience (UX) designers are answerable for the end-to-end development of websites and digital marketing applications. They may or may not have a profound specialized foundation or they might be better knowledgeable on the design end of the range.

UX designers are centered around understanding the site from an entire marketing experience, and to that end they need to understand crowds just as they have inside and out information on the services or products a given customer offers.

5. Email Marketing Specialist

Email marketing is an illustration of a particular zone of content optimization and marketing. Individuals accountable for email marketing are normally incredibly knowledgeable in marketing just as editing and copywriting.

Email keeps on being perhaps the most grounded method of substance out there. To do this well you should have the option to compose powerfully. You’ll likewise be responsible for campaigns, dispatches, and PR exercises dependent on broad information bases of user information and different records.

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Google Analytics Mistakes To Not Do

Mistake #1: Using Outdated Tracking Code

When you create a new site design and don’t update your tracking code (especially if you’ve switched from Google Analytics to Google Tag Manager), you risk it being outdated. Always make sure you’re using the most up-to-date version of your tracking code as a precaution against these types of errors. The traffic will usually display inflated figures, but unless you look deeper, you won’t know where the duplicated traffic is coming from. Even then, it’s difficult to pinpoint. To find it, we’ll need to use a Google Chrome plugin. Make sure you’re not using any duplicate tracking codes by using the Google Tag Assistant Chrome extension. When you have several instances of the same tracking code enabled, this will appear as a red tag inside the extension.

Mistake #2: Ignoring Signs of Scraping

One potential cause of inflated data in your GA account is scraping. If your site was scraped but the Google Analytics tracking code was not removed, you might be getting traffic from a duplicate site in your GA. Investigate and inspect these domains for scraped content if you find a lot of traffic in Google Analytics data from one of these sites. This should immediately stand out to you. If you see a lot of your own content on the new site, double-check to make sure your tracking code wasn’t transferred over as well.

Mistake #3: Not Switching http:// to https:// in Your GA Admin Panel

If you’re migrating your website, make sure your admin panel is migrated from http:// to https:// as well. If you want to ensure that your traffic data is accurately tracked, you must get this right. You risk forgetting to include any of your reporting data in your Google Analytics monitoring if you don’t.

Mistake #4: Ignoring Spam/Bot Traffic

Spam and bot traffic are also issues you should be aware of. You may be affecting the accuracy of your Google Analytics monitoring if you neglect the possible effects of spam and bot traffic. When it comes to spam and bot traffic, this can result in traffic performance over-inflation and, as a result, inaccuracies in your data reporting. This occurs because spam and bot traffic are not regarded as reliable sources of traffic. If you believe your search traffic is growing but you base your decision on spam and bot traffic, you might be in for a world of disappointment. This is why it’s crucial to make sure that any SEO strategy decisions are focused on actual users and traffic, not spam or bots.

Mistake #5: Not Assessing Sampled Traffic vs. Unsampled Traffic

This could be an error in your data monitoring decision-making if your Google Analytics account relies on sampled traffic.

What is sampled traffic?

Unsampled and sampled modes are available in Google Analytics. Unsampled data processing means that Google Analytics is tracking all possible Google traffic and is not using sampled data processing.

Default reports are not subject to sampling. The following general sampling thresholds apply to ad hoc queries of your data:

Analytics Standard: 500k sessions at the property level for the date range you are using

Analytics 360: 100M sessions at the view level for the date range you are using

When you create a default report in Google Analytics, however, this data is not subject to the sampling listed above.

When you’re reporting, make sure you’re not relying on sampled data. And, if you’re relying on this information, you’re aware of the implications of the sampled data.

Mistake #6: Ignoring the Hostname in URLs

Google Analytics does not include the hostname in the URL by default. When dealing with several subdomains, this can be difficult because you never know where the traffic is coming from. Always make sure that you know 100% where the traffic is coming from. At least you will know 100% at all times what’s going on with the hostname in your URLs. Your local SEO company can help you do this and more seamlessly for you.

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Develop Your Road Map to Success

One of the mechanisms the mind uses to sort through the enormous amounts of data that flow in daily, and keep it manageable is called “preparatory set.” It helps your brain to focus on items deemed important. You can “program” that mechanism by writing down the things you want to accomplish and making them clear. Once programmed, it directs your attention to certain events and occurrences. To illustrate: when you decide you want a certain car you see them everywhere, you notice each one on the freeway, you see every ad or commercial. Preparatory set works that way. Once you program it with your goals (visualizing in addition to writing is most effective) you will automatically be more aware of certain events, opportunities and people who can be helpful. You’ll also be more clear about what you want, and this will sneak into your conversation and your general attitude, where others can pick up on it. It’s not really magic, unless you believe as I do, that the mind is a miracle in itself.

For example, to make it easy to include easy exercise in your life, write down your goal (I will walk an extra half hour a day) and picture yourself walking and enjoying it: perhaps you picture parking a few blocks away (where it’s cheaper) and walk the rest of the way, or get off the bus or subway one stop early, or walk to that nearby restaurant for lunch, or take the stairs instead of the elevator when you can, or take a sandwich to a nearby park, or take the dog for a bit longer walk than usual before and after work. If you picture yourself walking and enjoying it, you’ll soon find that you’re noticing new and different ways you can walk more without stressing about it.

As soon as you have a goal, you can actually make a “road map” for yourself.

Creating a visual representation of what you want to achieve can do several things: First, the process of creating it will force you to be more specific and clear about what you want. Second, taking the time and energy to create it is a powerful signal to yourself that you are serious about accomplishing it. It sets an intention. Third, if you keep it where you can see it, it will be a powerful reminder of your intentions for your own life.

Your visual road map consists of two parts: 1) a picture of your destination, and 2) your map of how to get there.

Road Map Exercise 1: Picturing Your Destination

This is a visual representation of your ideal life, and you will use it for the next several years to remind and motivate yourself, so treat it as the important project it is. When you look at your finished picture, you should be able to see each of your goals clearly represented.

Preparation

1. Collect the materials necessary to make a collage you can write on: a large piece of paper and colored markers, pens, paints, pastels or other art materials; several magazines full of pictures and advertisements that you can cut out, paste or a glue stick, and several photos of you and others in your life. If you enjoy drawing, you may want to dispense with the magazine pictures and draw your own. If you’re a computer whiz, computer art may be the way you do this. You can also add solid objects, pieces of cloth or jewelry, tokens and keepsakes that are meaningful to you. Keep in mind that colorful, graphic pictures are powerful subconscious stimulants, and the point of this exercise is to help to focus your subconscious on your goals and dreams.

2. Divide your paper into sections representing your personal life, your business or career, your family life, your friends and your free time.

3. Title each section, and think about what, if you designed your own life, you would want to create in that section.

4. Begin with the personal life section, and think about what activities represent the private, personal part of your life-including the images that symbolize you. Begin with a picture of you as you are, or as you would like to be (in a graduation gown, wedding clothing, thinner, successful, you can paste a small picture of your head or face on a magazine picture if you wish). Are there hobbies or talents that are important to you? What kinds of images make you feel good about yourself? What symbols would you use to represent yourself? What do you want to use to represent your physical health? Your happiness? Your determination? Choose one or two images to represent the various ways you identify yourself: Hobbies, spirituality, relaxing, exercising, working, parenting, having fun.

5. Now, look for pictures of concrete items or goals that would complete the personal section of your road map, such as the following: Your home, car, clothing, travel, pets, personal growth goals and any other significant factors representing your personal life.

6. Arrange these pictures in the personal section of your collage in a way that suits you, or draw representations of the items that are important to you. Be sure your chosen picture of yourself is front and center of this personal section. Arrange and rearrange and adjust your collection of pictures until the final result pleases you.

7. Now complete the other sections of your results picture in a similar fashion. Each section will probably include some elements repeated from the personal section because you will personally be involved in each category. Use an image of your idealized self prominently in each section; either create a different version of your idealized self for each section, or use black-and-white or color photocopies of your original in each section.

When you have arranged your picture, stand back and take a look to see if it reflects your ideal life. If not, play with it some more. If it is, paste things down or save, and place the collage where you can look at it often. This picture only needs to represent your future as you presently think it should be; you can alter your picture, add to it or make a new one as your goals grow and change.

Road Map Exercise 2: Making Your Road Map

Once you put the necessary time and energy into picturing your destination, you’ll find that by focusing on specifics and details you have clarified your picture. Most people who have done this process in workshops and classes report that they feel very motivated, much clearer and energized by their vision. Take that energy and use it now to create your road map; a plan of action to get you to your destination.

1. Use a separate piece of paper or artboard, and entitle the left side of the roadmap “Where I am Now.” Place sufficient symbols, words or numbers to indicate where you are now in all the areas outlined on your destination picture.

2. Entitle the right side of the paper or artboard “My Destination” and arrange similar symbols, words or numbers to indicate where you will be when you reach your goals.

3. Divide the space in between into columns, and in those columns, develop the steps you’ll need to accomplish to get from where you are now to your destination. For example: In the work area, the steps might be 1) graduate from school, 2) do a job search 3) develop career skills, experience and expertise, and 4) move up in your career. (Each of these steps can be broken down into smaller steps, as you approach that segment of the Roadmap and need to accomplish specific goals).

Use Your Roadmap Daily

After completing your destination picture and road map, use them daily to remain focused on your goals and maintain your motivation. Keep them where you can review them frequently, and change and update them as needed. You’ll find that having a clear picture of your goals and aspirations in front of you will make it much easier to reach them.

All your decisions from now on can be made in relationship to your road map. If you consider each of your subsequent decisions according to whether it will get you closer to your goal or not, your choices will become clearer and more direct.

Using your destination picture and road map to set your priorities and to keep you focused will help you keep all the important areas of your life balanced and will help shape your future. Knowing where you want to go and how to get there will minimize your tendencies to worry, and reduce your indecisiveness and confusion.

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Circles of Closeness: Friendship and Intimacy

There are different levels of closeness in friendships. Some people become friends because circumstances bring them together. Perhaps you worked with someone and ate lunch together fairly often, but when one of you left the job, the friendship didn’t survive. Or you were quite friendly with a neighbor who moved away, and your contact ended.

You probably know what’s like to get together with a close friend who you haven’t seen for a long time. It’s as though you were never apart. Your connection is based on many shared experiences, values, and feelings, and it remains strong. Circumstantial friendships don’t provide the same type of bond, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable.

It’s likely that when you enter a new environment, you will meet people you enjoy, but don’t feel a deep connection to. These friendships are like pleasant conveniences, where both parties benefit by the contact, but neither has the interest to pursue the friendship further. The relationship may feel vaguely uncomfortable or wrong, as if there is something “false” about it.

You may enjoy having lunch with colleagues at work, chatting with them about work problems and gossip, and you may even meet some of them before class to exercise. But when you change jobs, most of those friendships are replaced by connections with colleagues in the new office.

There is no need to feel guilty if one or more of your friendships feels circumstantial. It is very helpful for both of you to have one another at this moment; you can enjoy whatever you share and move on when it’s over. Most likely your friend has similar benign feelings of friendship toward you, and the parting is not more than mildly sad for either of you. Don’t deprive yourself of this pleasant contact because it doesn’t meet some expectation, and don’t try to force it to be more than it is. There’s no reason to back away from a temporary, congenial connection.

Circles of Friends

Every friendship is different, and you deserve to have a full spectrum of friends in your life. You can picture your friendships as a series of concentric circles, one inside the other. At the outermost circle are the people you like but haven’t gotten to know well: folks you’ve met at work, church, or other groups; friends of friends and other pleasant acquaintances. Some of these people will never be closer to you than they are now. Some of them, however, become closer to you and move into the next circle. These are people you see fairly often and like quite a bit. They may be circumstantial friends who are meaningful to you at the time, but who don’t stay around. Or they may be members of a group you spend time with, but not special friends of yours. If you’re particularly fond of a casual friend, it’s worth your while to make an effort to get closer. Let an acquaintance know you’d like to have more personal contact by inviting him or her to coffee after a meeting or to a party at your house.

Perhaps your relationship will move into the third circle: developing friends. You’ll both take the opportunity to know each other better and learn whether you have much in common. With some effort, and some luck, the friendship may eventually move into the fourth circle: close friends. It usually takes some time for a relationship to develop this far, but when it does, you both will share a long-term connection.

Nothing enriches life like friendships. You probably remember the old adage, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other gold.” As your life develops, you learn how true this is. With plenty of friends around, you can make sure that you get your full measure of delight, support, and companionship.

Different Strokes

We all have different categories of people in our lives. There are family members, friends, co-workers, colleagues, and acquaintances. And within each of these categories, there are levels of closeness. In your family, for example, you may feel closer and more comfortable with one sister or cousin than you are with another. Or, in your circle of friends, some may be much more reliable and warm than others. Even in business, some colleagues may be true friends, while others are more distant. The differences in these relationships determine how much distance or closeness will work in them. Knowing how to differentiate between levels of friendhips will make a big difference.

Circles of Closeness

To create a mental picture of how the various kinds of intimacy exist in your life, you can imagine your relationships as organized into a series of concentric circles, with you in the center of all of them.

The center circle: Intimacy: The people you consider most important to you, who are your closest friends and family, fill the center circle, the smallest one. The circle is small because relatively few people meet the requirements to get into the “inner circle.” It is reserved for those who are special: your closest friends, your spouse or partner, and your family.

The second circle: Warm friendship: The circle just outside that one, the second circle, is for warm friends and family members whom you like, but perhaps do not know well enough to trust completely, or who have some characteristics that make being closer impossible. This can be true for people you like a lot, but who are far away, or who can’t be trusted to keep commitments or to respond when you need them.

Third circle: Friendly connections: This circle is for people you know and like, but don’t yet know well enough to consider them warm friends. These people may be friends of your friends or family members, or other people you like and enjoy spending time with, but with whom you have not yet made an individual connection. Some of these acquaintances may very well move on into your second circle after some time and experience, others may drift away.

Fourth circle: Circumstantial friends: These people may be neighbors, co-workers, other parents in your child’s pre-school, or people who are fun to talk to while you work out at the gym, but aren’t much closer in your personal life. These people are friendly and convenient for doing certain things together (for example, a co-worker with whom you have lunch) but if the circumstances change (you change jobs or move away), the friendships don’t last. Once in a while, a circumstantial friend becomes a personal friend, and moves into the third circle, or even closer.

Fifth circle: Acquaintances: This final circle is for people you’ve recently met and haven’t had a chance to screen for more intimate circles, or friends of friends, or other people you hardly know, but consider friendly. You may get to know some of these people better as time goes on.

Being Selective

Each of these circles calls for a different level of privacy. If you have carefully considered who to allow into the innermost circle, for example, it will contain the people with whom you are the most comfortable being intimate. These are the people with whom you share your personal thoughts, your secrets, your sexuality and your living space (just how close you get depends on your personal preferences, and on how considerate and caring they are).

With each successive circle, the level of intimacy and sharing of your private self diminishes. A new work colleague in the outermost circle, for example, will probably know only general information about you, and very little about your personal life.

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