I've just finished a refresher teleclass on life planning. I particularly enjoyed the distinction made between intentional living (making choices about how we want our lives to be in areas of career, finances, health, friends and family, significant others, personal growth, fun and recreation and physical environment) and unintentional living (no conscious thinking and planning in key life areas). It certainly does make you stop and think and ask yourself "how do I want to live my life?"

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It can be easy to drift along in life especially when we finally achieve the dream job, the perfect house, the material possessions to fill it and have a rich circle of friends, family and acquaintances. Yet for many people, once these goals have been achieved life becomes empty. It could be said that the first half of our life is about acquisition ­ of status, qualifications, experience, material possessions etc ­ and the second half of our life may be more a search for real meaning and purpose.

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Have you heard the acronym for fear? False Evidence Appearing Real and how many of us have been stopped in our tracks, because of it? Most people have fears of some sort or other, such as fear of being alone, of failure, of success, of changing jobs, or getting their needs met, yet not everyone lets their fears stop them. The key to working through the fear factor is to give the fears your full attention and consider exactly what it is you think or say about them.

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At a recent workshop I asked a group of managers whether they were assertive or not. I was surprised at the low numbers who said they were; and taken aback at the high numbers who felt they weren't. When I questioned them further, many said they were uncomfortable about saying what they wanted to say on occasions because they didn't know the best way to approach things. The basic technique uses a simple three step process: (1) "when you (state facts)"

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