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In my opinion, attitude has everything to do with your success. How many times have you heard someone say “Can’t never could”? Think about all the children’s books that instill the importance of a good attitude for successful results:

The Little Engine That Could Photo by Cliff1066

The Little Engine That Could Photo by Cliff1066

little-toot

The Brave Little Toaster

A bad attitude and negative thinking are typically the first steps to failure. Ambition and a positive outlook, however, can make a success story out of anything – even the impossible!

So how do you adopt the right attitude for success?

Usually, there’s a lot more involved in making it over that mountain than simply chanting “I think I can, I think I can” as you slowly chug alone. But knowing, understanding, and convincing yourself that you can succeed is the foundation for achievement.

Keeping the right attitude is another challenge on the road to success. Do your best to be more optimistic and to learn from your mistakes rather than letting setbacks destroy your plans.

Proper planning is equally important. Even the Little Engine That Could had a clear idea of where he was heading and the direction he needed to take to get there. Develop a road map that will help you reach your goal and know the signs of projects destined for failure before you get started. When you know how to get there, the path won’t seem as frightening and it will be much easier to keep a positive attitude.

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Poverty…

What do you think of when you hear the word poverty?

Hungry, dirty children playing in the cluttered streets of a third world country?  (Photo by Angela7Dreams)

Photo by Angela7Dreams

Do you picture hungry, dirty children playing in the cluttered streets of a third world country?

Maybe you think of the homeless man sleeping by the roadside?  (Photo by JamesFischer)

Photo by JamesFischer

Maybe you think of the homeless man you pass on the way to work each day?

Photo by AmazonActivist

Photo by AmazonActivist

Does the word poverty create thoughts of the thousands of poor, homeless dogs wandering the streets?

When you think of poverty…

Do you ever consider your neighbor down the street? The father who just lost his job only weeks before Christmas? Or the middle-aged woman who unexpectedly lost her husband and now has no income?

Photo by AngelRay

Photo by AngelRay

Poverty affects everyone – from pets to people – and is a growing global concern. In 2007, 37.3 million Americans were living in poverty. Sadly, the largest percentage of this number is made up by children under the age of 18.

In the US, a family of 4 is considered to live below poverty level if the total household income is less than $21,000 – that’s about $57 per day. Globally, there are more than 3 billion people living on less than $2.50 per day.

One in every 2 children live in poverty across the world. 64% of these children live without adequate shelter; 40% don’t have safe water; 270 million children around the world have no access to health care. In 2003, about 29,000 children under the age of 5 died each day.

While some areas of the world are much harder hit by poverty, it is a prevailing problem that continues to affect individuals in every city within every nation – and in every instance, children are the least advantaged.

Causes of Poverty

There are many, many reasons families and individuals live in poverty and just as many factors that can create circumstances that lead to poverty.

  • Lack of or inadequate education.
  • Poor health.
  • Physical or mental disabilities.
  • An individual’s culture, background, or environment.
  • Shifting or failing economies.
  • Limited job markets.
  • Discrimination creates poverty in many areas.
  • Inadequate demand to meet needs.
  • Impoverished national conditions, typically seen in developing countries.

Many people are born, raised, and continue to live in poverty while others encounter circumstances along their way that lead to a reduced income and poor conditions. For some, poverty follows them for their entire life; others may struggle through periods of poverty in their time – regardless, this global problem is a growing concern and everyone has the ability to fight it.

What Can You Do About Poverty?

Poverty is a vicious cycle that is seemingly impossible to break. Lack of employment and education creates low incomes – low incomes and little education typically decrease the number of new businesses, meaning fewer job opportunities. Downsizing job markets in developed countries make it nearly impossible to find new employment for those that lose their current positions, often leading to long periods of poverty level incomes that can easily become standard conditions.

This sort of thing can happen to anyone, at anytime – often without warning. There are a number of things we can do to improve poverty rates and to help those in impoverished conditions. Whether its investing our time, our money, or our talents, there is something everyone can do to help.

Fight Hunger

In 2006, 10% of US adults and more than 17% of America’s children lived in households without adequate food supplies. Whenever possible, pick up an extra can of food at the grocery store and donate to your local food bank. Many community organizations hold food drives and will come by your home to collect the goods. Religious establishments, shelters, and soup kitchens often accept donations as well.

National and international organizations to consider:

Low on cash? Here are free ways to fight hunger:

Improve Education

Many believe that education is the answer to ending poverty. Even if it isn’t the answer, higher literacy rates and increased knowledge will definitely improve the odds. Support your local schools by participating in fund raisers or by volunteering your time and talents. Donate gently used children’s books to libraries or book drives. Other opportunities to improve education:

Support Entreprenuership

Small businesses and start up companies provide new job opportunities and stimulate the economy. In 2005, US small businesses with 500 employees or less provided more than 58 million jobs. Entrepreneurship decreases poverty globally as well. Support your local small business owners and encourage your government officials to stand up for small business rights as well as funding.

Just Help

The effects of poverty are wide-reaching, from hunger and clothing to education and employment and much more. There are many, many different ways to help fight poverty.

  • Volunteer at a local shelter or soup kitchen.
  • Donate outgrown or rarely worn clothing to a thrift store.
  • Deliver a basket of food to a needy neighbor’s front door.
  • Participate in a holiday drive like Toys for Tots.
  • Read a book to a child.

Whether you volunteer time, donate cash, or organize an event of your own, we can all help to fight poverty and to improve social wellbeing around the world. Add your own ideas in the comments!

Photo by bartolo100 via Flickr

Photo by bartolo100 via Flickr

Green businesses are a natural extension of an eco-friendly lifestyle.  As small business, or even large business owners, there are many ways we can cut our companies’ carbon outputs.  Company fleets run solely on biomass and offices powered by the sun may be the first ideas that come to mind when you think green, but there are plenty of little things you can implement within your own business to do your part to improve the planet.

Go Green with Your Business Cards

Business cards are a fundamental part of branding and are a staple that most company’s can’t do without.  Cards made from recycled paper or sustainably-managed trees are a great way to make your business a little greener.

Unique, durable, and eco friendly custom business cards by MOO

Unique, durable, and eco friendly custom business cards by MOO

MOO.com offers high-quality business cards that are free of chemicals and printed on environmentally-friendly cardstock.  The neat thing about MOO products is the ability to choose a different photo for every card – and they’re affordable.  You can also order MOO mini-cards for a unique way to reduce paper consumption and still showcase your business.

Reduce Your Computer’s Carbon – Effortlessly and FREE

CO2 Saver is a freeware program designed for windows that manages your computer’s idle time to reduce power consumption and, in turn, carbon emissions.  The program installs easily and keeps you up to date on your carbon savings with a convenient meter on your desktop.  Equipment like computers, mobile phone chargers, coffee makers, and other typical office necessities can suck a lot of unnecessary power when they’re on but not in use.

Search for Recycling Opportunities That Fit Your Business

by SATOBOY via Flickr

by SATOBOY via Flickr

Recycling waste produced by your business could benefit the planet as well as your profits.  Whether you’re disposing of yard debris or paper, consider ways your waste could be recycled or reused.  In many cases, you can find someone that will take the trash you usually pay to dispose of  at no charge – you may even get paid for the garbage, especially if your business’s by-products have biomass potential.

There are thousands of other ways you can make your business greener and plenty of other little things you can do to improve the planet when your career hat is on.   Share your own tips and ideas for a greener business in the comments!

Perla via Flickr

Photo by: Perla via Flickr

Across the nation, millions of children headed out for their first day of school this morning and many others began their school year last month. Budget cuts and sluggish local economies mean that many of these schools are starting their day without the right supplies and equipment to properly educate their students. An even greater number of schools, especially in elementary levels, have eliminated the arts, music, and even physical education from their curriculum.

The right to education, more importantly a quality education, is essential for a successful future – for both individuals and society as a whole. While math, science, and reading are vital for everyday living, a healthy body and creative mind are just as crucial.

  • Research suggests that nearly 15% of US children are obese – a statistic that has been growing at a rapid rate over the past 3 decades.
  • Children who are overweight increase their risks of diabetes, heart disease, bone complications, and much more.
  • While PE class alone will not eliminate childhood obesity, this additional hour of exercise is still beneficial.
  • Creating music or art aids in problem solving, improves self-esteem, and helps children learn a number of other valuable life skills.

Without a well-rounded education, are our school systems truly benefiting the students within them? In some cases, teachers are not just lacking the resources to share art and music with their class – they may not have the books and reading materials they need to teach the basics.

What Can You Do?

If the schools in your community have eliminated ‘extra’ classes like art, music, and PE, start by contacting your local school district to request a more well-rounded education for our children. If the school’s budget will simply not allow these programs, discuss the possibilities of in-class music and art lessons, as well as exercise programs, and consider volunteering your own time and talents.

You can also contact your local and state representatives to express your concern over the lack of a well-rounded curriculum and to urge for larger education budgets. State education lotteries can provide much-needed funding for schools, supplies, and additional classes as well.

There are many other needs in today’s classroom – even in a school with these programs already in place, a teacher may not have access to the books, videos, or other supplies they need to provide a quality education. At the same time, there are students without pencils, paper, and other essential supplies they need to succeed in school. Take the time to donate your time, your money, or new school items to a worthy organization, either in your local area or from the list below:

  • Donor’s Choose – Choose an educational project to fund or help to fund from a list of classrooms throughout the US. Narrow down your choices by location, grade level, subject, or the type of resource to be funded. This is a great organization with projects posted directly from the teacher.
  • Adopt a Classroom – This organization pairs donors with teachers to provide additional funding for supplies throughout the school year.
  • BooksFirst! – A volunteer-operated organization, BooksFirst! helps under-served classrooms and school libraries expand their literacy areas. You can make a donation or organize a community book drive to make a big difference.

While art, music, and physical education are a vital part of healthy development, lacking basic supplies like books and paper are even more essential. Take action in your own community to ensure a well-rounded, quality education for all children.

Why am I posting about vegetarian food on my improving the planet blog?

Cows are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than our cars! I’m not going to go off on a tangent about Jessica Simpson’s bad choice of clothing, but if everyone would eat just one less meal with beef each week it could be a huge benefit to the planet.

I am not a vegetarian – but meat is nowhere near the top of my list of favorite foods, especially if we’re eating out. Here are a few ideas for your lunch break that are better than a Big Mac – for you and the planet:

  1. The Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich at HoneyBaked Ham. No, it’s not the first place that pops into your mind when you think vegetarian, but if you’re lucky enough to have a HoneyBaked cafe nearby, this sandwich is worth the stop – red pepper hummus spread, accented by cucumbers, red onions, and black olives.
  2. The Veggie Burger at Burger King. Why Burger King is the only fast food chain offering the option of Morningstar burgers is beyond me – but the BK Veggie gets my vote over the Whopper any day! (Be prepared for an extra wait when you order one)
  3. Colonel’s Sampler at KFC. The old-fashioned vegetable plate is drive-through safe at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Choose 3 sides – baked beans, mac & cheese, potatoes, corn, rice, green beans, or that world famous coleslaw – and a biscuit for a fast, filling, and meat-free lunch.
  4. The Veggie Sub at Quizno’s. Every sub shop generally has a veggie option, but this one is toasted with two types of cheese (you can get it without the cheese as well), fresh guacamole, and a red wine vinaigrette sauce that gives it a unique twist.
  5. Baked Potato and salad at Wendy’s. And it only costs 2 bucks!

Where do you go when you want to eat out but aren’t in the mood for meat?

Global warming and climate change are taking their effect on the arctic. Frozen for more than a hundred centuries, scientists are examining the possibility of a completely ice-free North Pole this summer. Extreme temperatures have melted the ice in the arctic much faster than years past – about 70% of the ice there now was produced in the past winter and will melt even more quickly this summer.

Polar bears are in danger of losing their breeding grounds, the graceful arctic fox has nowhere to go when temperatures heat up, and several penguin species are seeing drastic declines in number. Huge volumes of melting ice are creating rising sea levels around the world.

At the same time there are hundreds of new marine species discovered each day, many of them beneath what was once arctic ice. While these new species may or may not survive future climate change, our land is not surviving the rising waters. Carol Auer, an NOAA oceanographer, says “a half-inch of vertical sea level rise translates to about three feet of land lost on a sandy open coast” and studies five years ago estimated an annual rise of about 3mm.
Is there a solution?
While some of the effects of climate change and global warming are a natural part of our environment, a big portion of it is the result of our own actions and neglect. Conclusions to a recent scientific study support the fact “that the climate change observed over the past four decades is man made and not the result of natural phenomena.”
Suing the president for neglecting the polar bears is probably not the answer (who’s idea was it to reelect this bozo anyway?) but there are a variety of ways you can decrease your personal impact on the planet and make a difference.
If you could change one thing about our society in an effort to decrease global warming, what would it be?

The four day week – Friday’s free. It sounds appealing to have a longer weekend; an entire day off to run errands, work on hobbies, or just relax with your family. One less day of driving is also an attractive point with the ridiculously high gas prices that show no signs of relief. A number of businesses are adopting the four day work week and government employees in the state of Utah will be enjoying a four day work week beginning next month as part of a year long experiment to reduce the state’s carbon footprint.

The shorter work week will affect about 1,000 of the 3,000 government offices in Utah, saving an estimated $3 million per year in utility costs. Officials expect to eliminate nearly 3,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions and decrease air pollution as well. While these environmental benefits are terrific – is the four day work week really the smartest choice?

The Pros and the Cons

There’s always a good side and a bad side to any plan. While these numbers sound wonderful for the planet, the 17,000 Utah state employees enjoying their Friday off will make up for most of those savings using electricity within their homes and traveling. More businesses adopting a four day work week could also be an inconvenience for customers working similar hours.

Another reason many companies are offering more flexible work schedules is to attempt to offset the high cost of gas. Utah officials estimate “employees in six buildings alone will save themselves more than $300,000 spent on gas to commute to work.” We have no idea how many employees that is, but a 30 mile commute in the typical car costs about $10 – meaning most people save no more than $20 a week on a four day work week, and that’s if they don’t drive other places on their day off.

There are a number of safety concerns linked to longer shifts. Employees are more prone to fatigue, making accidents and mistakes more likely. Too many consecutive days off can also have a bad effect on employees and their productivity. There are also a number of advantages that support the four day work week.

My personal opinion – I think a three day weekend every week sounds fantastic! Who doesn’t?! But for personal productivity and performance, I don’t see it as the best option.

The Top 5 Reasons I Think Four Day Work Weeks are Not the Answer

I’m all for saving on gas and decreasing carbon emissions but to me, the effects on your mind and body are not worth the small reduction.

  1. You will lose an entire day of peak productivity. Unless your best time of day is between 5 and 7 PM, a four day work week means you lose 2 to 3 hours of your best work each week.
  2. You will lose 4 days of normal life. While you are gaining an entire free day, 10 to 12 hour shifts make it nearly impossible to do anything else on those work days besides eat and sleep.
  3. Longer shifts can be hard on your body and mind. Even with that extra day to recuperate, extended shifts mean more mental anguish for office workers, service employees spend more time on their feet at once, and those with physical jobs exert more energy and strength in the course of a day.
  4. You’re less likely to eat healthy. It’s hard enough to get the right amounts of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products working a typical 9 to 5 job. When you’re still at the office at dinner time, it’s much more tempting to grab a candy bar from the snack machine or a burger from the fast food joint.
  5. Monday’s are even worse after a 3 day weekend. It’s always hard to return to work after a relaxing weekend. The longer you’re off, typically the harder it is to get back into the swing of things at work.

What do you think about the four day work week?