Category Archives: life

Epiphany

By Marie Diaz-Cervo

She is an alpha woman, she speaks her mind and unable to be loyal to people that think maybe she is their friends. You cannot treat people with bad attitude and expect them to remain your friends. When she wants something from people, she used that delicate voice as a sort of manipulation. If you are naive, you will think oh she likes me.

I noticed others utilize little girl voice to make people help them. That voice is soft and angelic. These must be the voices they used to get things from their fathers and tickling down to their boyfriends and husbands.

I want to know and develop that kind of manipulation toward people to get what I want from them. The same people can also lie to get what they want from others.

I went to visit my mother after church, and it was a hot day. She had three fans one and the ceiling fan on also. My old furniture is at her home since I resided in the main house. My furniture and appliances are distributed all over my sisters and mom homes. My brother gave her an IPad so she can skype or facetime with her grandchildren, she enjoyed the knowledge on the freedom she has. I saw the IPad, therefore, I decided to teach her how to use YouTube to watch fashion shows from different designers. Mom saw the show and got so happy because she loved fashion. I enlarged the screen for her, and she said I made a dress like this already. I closed the page and asked her to demonstrate how to open the apps.

We also have a conversation about how hot it was in my room since it is on the second floor. She said someone stole her air conditioner from the garage. I told her I went to home depot and saw a small one, but it was too heavy.

A family friend came over and got into the conversation and told us that he saw an air conditioner for $118.00 at Hallmark. My mother said buy two and here is the money. Her friend suggested he will come with me. I told them we can go to home depot because it was closer. I got in the car, and he made a smart remark “wow you know how to drive” I answered “actually.” Did I ask him how old are you? He said Fifty years old. I used the google map on my cell to get the direction to the store so that we can get there faster. I stopped for gas, and he asked how come the car is making so much noise. I told him the car is old and I also said that everybody stated that Subaru is a good car. He said it is a Japanese car, so is Toyota. When we got to home depot, the air conditioner was sold out. We when back to my mother’s house without going to another store, because he was angry. He told me he needs to get AC Pro for his car, and he didn’t have the money for it, so I said I will buy it for him, but he said no. I also asked how come his family is so close to my mother; he told me that his mom and my mom were good friends almost like sisters when they were young.

My mom said to me when I got back; your sister is having a party for your nephew for his going away to college. I told her I’d take her and head out to another store to purchase the air conditioner. She wanted to go with me to the store, but I told her I would take her to my sister because I wanted to go alone to the store this time.

My then husband’s teenage daughter got her driver’s license; they usually go to the school together, but our thirteen-year-old got sick and had to stay home in bed. She said to me “are you coming with us” she just assumed that she was just going to take the car without asking. I laugh and told her no and that she was not going to take the car and told her to come upstairs. I said to her did you asked me if you can use the car or did you just assumed that you automatically take the car. I told her that I need to get food for her sister that was sick and it is my car, therefore, she needs to ask. I looked at her and felt all the confidence that she had and told her to learn to be humble. A car is a big responsibility and it would off make sense if she asked. The next day she went to her father’s sister house and came back with my sister in law’s car. I knew at that moment I was in for a rude awaking, the relationship changes at that moment. Now she is married and more mature, if she wants some kind of relationship, it would be alright with me.

The warning signs are there before a person cut ties with you or betray you. If you pay attention to what the person does or says, you can be aware of what is about to come. The person might abandon someone else before, and you think there is no way that person will do this to me. Your job is to move forward and spend times with people who love you and accept you. You can also reach out to others who might need a friend, and it will make you feel so much better.

Read more of my writings at www.amazon.com/author/mariediazcervo

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Corporal Punishment

By Marie Diaz-Cervo

So many people are still so accustomed to corporal punishment, they can not refrain from it. It also takes lots of discipline to not put a child on timeout when the child’s behavior is not good. If people know how to properly speak and work with children, it would help so much with the children’s confidence. For example, you redirect a child when he or she is displaying a bad behavior.

I went to the doctor last week to get a TB test and while I sat in the waiting room, a young mother who just had a baby last weekend was there with her other two children. The younger child did not want to seat on the chair next to her and she told her again and again to come and seat and the refused. Finally, the mom got so upset and grabbed the child’s arm and she pinched her daughter’s skin because she was so mad at her. I could not believe she was doing that in public and I was shocked and another parent was there witnessing the whole ordeal. She just looked at me and shook her head in disbelief.

Corporation

By Marie Diaz-Cervo

I had to do a lot of self-development in order to run the cooperation with the team for a number of years while my husband was running the financial business full time in order to get promoted to Regional Vice-President. I had to learn deal with different personalities, some were melancholy, sanguine, choleric and so on. I had to know what type of personality I was and had to work on myself to be a better leader. Actually, the most difficult personality helped me to be a better leader, sometime I would question it was my gender, color or nationality. At the time I learned that it wasn’t personal, I learned to forgive. The stress took a toll on my health, I was hemorrhaging constantly and would get very tired. I had to slow down and asked God for a miracle to get back my health.

About me

I’m Angie! I was married for 13 years and I have two children from the marriage, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Gabrielle and our son Anthony. My children are karate instructors and I am very proud of them.

I am now 51 and although I was born and raised in Haiti, I now reside in the United States. I went to high school in NYC and my mother wanted my siblings and me to have a better life, so we moved to New Jersey!

My son Anthony Diaz-Cervo has a vlog channel on YouTube where he shares parts of his life, and my daughter has a blog www.fiercelybeautifulblog.com. I wanted my own creative outlet to express myself. With that being said, I originally started blogging for the karate school I had with my then husband, beginning of 1996 as somewhat of a hobby because I simply love to write.

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial attitude and love owning something of my own. This blog has become so much more than a hobby to me, I’ve been fortunate enough to pursue this as my growing career, one I have always dreamed of.

I have so many interests; motherhood, parenting, fashion, writing, self-development and so much more which is why I chose my name to use as my blog title. I thought for months, “what kind of title represents me?” and I just couldn’t think of anything more fitting than my own name.

I am a go with the flow type of gal with a passion for creating. I am always looking for fun, exciting opportunities to work with brands and companies to create great content together!

Making Your Life Golden

SABON“>Sabon

By Mark Ford

I have always been a strong opponent of television. But, K and I recently started watching it together. Just a little bit here and there; enough to get me thinking about the way people spend their recreational time.

It made me wonder if the kind of activities we engage in during our down time really makes a difference.

I’ve also pointed out that the more time you spend working, the more successful you’re likely to be – but acknowledge that even the most ambitious and hardest workers need to take at least a few hours out of the day to do something that gives them pleasure.

Something that doesn’t work.

The question then becomes, “What should that ‘something’ be?”

As I said, just about any activity we choose to do can fit into one of three categories. It can:

  • Damage us in some way
  • Improve us somehow
  • Leave us more or less the same

Think of the best choices – the ones that improve you – as Golden.

Think of the neutral choices – the ones that just help you pass the time – as Vaporous.

And think of the worst choices – the ones that hurt you – as Acidic.

It’s up to you how much Gold, Vapor, and Acid you are going to have in your life.

When I think of my own choices – good, bad, and neutral – I notice that they have the following characteristics:

Golden Choices

My best experiences tend to be with activities that are intellectually challenging and emotionally engaging. Because they demand a lot from me, I shy away from them when I am low in energy. But when I do get into them, they build my energy and thus make it easier to continue. When I am through with such an activity, I feel good about myself and content with how I have spent my time.

Vaporous Choices

These activities are easy to slip into and easier, too, to stay involved with. They are the choices we make when we don’t feel like making choices. The time we spend when we don’t much care how we spend our time. Welcome to the Vapor zone, the neutral, happy world of poker and sitcoms and gossip.

When I’m ready for some relaxation, my first impulse is always to choose a Vaporous activity. Having “worked hard all day,” I want something simple and mindless so I can gear down. And most people would probably say the same thing. Getting into the Vapor zone is easy – and staying there is easier still.

The big problem with Vaporous activities – and this is a very big problem for me – is that they leave me feeling enervated instead of energized. And empty. Vaporous activities do for me what Vaporous foods (i.e., comfort foods) do: They fill me up but tire me out.

Acidic Choices

Everybody has vices. At one time or another, I’ve had just about all of them. I have never smoked crack, but I’ve done plenty of other things to destroy, reduce, or disable myself.

Why I do these things, I can only guess. Sometimes I think I need the challenge of surviving self-imposed obstacles. Whatever my reasons, the result of making those choices is generally the same.

I get a dull pleasure that is mixed with a barely discernible level of pain. Even when the pleasure is intense, it is clouded by a foggy brain. It feels like I’m having a great time … but I am not sure. And if the actual experience of Acidic activities is mixed, the feeling afterward is not at all ambivalent. It is bad.

The interesting thing about Acidic options is how attractive they can be. Nobody would argue that they are good choices. We pick them because we are too weak to pick anything else, and we use what little mind we have left to rationalize our self-destruction.

Let’s Take a Closer Look at These 3 Categories

… Continue reading

What You Can Learn From Misty Copeland About Achieving the Impossible

By Catherine Clifford @CatClifford

 

The world of elite, professional ballet is tiny, brutal and exacting. It operates within a long history of well-established traditions to define excellence in the industry. In that world, ballet dancers are long, lean, have delicate waists, small busts, lithe legs and are white.

And then there’s Misty Copeland: 5’2”, curvy, muscular and black.

This week, Copeland, 32, was promoted to the highest rank in one of the premier ballet companies in the world: principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater. Her promotion goes into effect on Aug. 1, according to an announcement from the theater.

Copeland is changing the face of the world of ballet and fueling the dreams of so many young dancers out there. But more than that, she’s an inspiration to anyone trying to overcome barriers or achieve what sometimes feels impossible.

Here are five lessons from her story.

1. It’s never too late to get started.

Copeland, one of six children raised by an itinerant and poor family, took her first ballet class at the ripe-old age of 13. That may sound young, but for a female ballet dancer, taking a first class at 13 is ancient. Men often start training older than professional female ballet dancers, but women who are considering a professional ballet career start training by 6 or 7 years old. (Ideally, you want to start training a woman’s body to move in the lines of ballet before muscles and limbs get too rigid.)

The takeaway: If you’re thinking about making a big move — starting a business, taking up a new hobby — don’t let your age be an excuse. Some of the most successful leaders in history found their purpose later in life.

2. Don’t let money be a barrier.

Professional ballet classes are expensive, and Copeland grew up in a family with a lot of kids and not much money. Her first ballet class was a free class offered on a basketball course at a Boys & Girls Club. She didn’t have a leotard, tights and ballet shoes, so she wore gym shorts, a shirt and socks.

Recognizing her natural talent and grace, the volunteer teacher at the Boys & Girls center brought her into her own ballet school on a full scholarship for the next four years. After that, she was accepted at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensives on full scholarship. She joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000 and the main company as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001. She was made soloist in August of 2007.

The takeaway: There’s no price on passion. Pursue your dreams, surround yourself with good people and seek the wisdom of mentors.

3. Don’t let precedents determine your future.

Copeland is the star of a viral Under Armour commercial where she is seen dancing while a girl reads a rejection letter from a ballet company. As someone who didn’t fit the typical ballerina mold, she understood feelings of rejection acutely.

“Because I was being told you’re not right for this role and you’re not right for that role, I really believed it. I thought that maybe I should leave ABT or join a company where I’m surrounded by other black dancers that look like me,” she told Vogue Italia in 2013. “But for me that is completely giving up, because my goal was always to dance for ABT. That went on for most of my early twenties. It was hard to dig myself out of that hole.”

The takeaway: There will be times in your life where you face failure and rejection. Learn from those moments, but don’t give up.

4. Promote yourself.

Copeland is more active outside the ballet studio than most other elite dancers. She published a bestselling autobiography, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, was on the cover of Time magazine, is the subject of a documentary, keeps an active presence on social media, and the list goes on.

Copeland’s desire to get her story out is to inspire other girls who aren’t built like the typical ballerina. And getting her story out requires her to be a savvy business woman in a tough market.

“It’s important to believe in yourself. Especially when you get to a professional level, you have to be the one that is promoting yourself. There are so many dancers that you are competing against and that you have to stand out with. And if you don’t believe that you are worthy, then no one else will,” Copeland said in an interview in April.  

The takeaway: Identify what it is that makes you or your business special and run with it. Your belief in yourself will help others take notice.

5. Seize the moment.

When Copeland was a soloist, the rank below principal, she was given the opportunity to take the lead role in Firebird, a Russian ballet about a magical bird. It was April of 2012, and she had six stress fractures in her leg at the time, but she went on with the performance without telling her artistic director.

“Any of those times could have been the last times I danced, had my bone completely snapped,” she told 60 Minutes in December 2014. “I was 29 years old and I was really given the biggest role of my career at that point and I felt had I not done this performance and proven myself that I was capable and mature enough to become this character, that I wouldn’t be given the opportunity again.” She says, with a bit of a nervous, relieved laugh, “I think it paid off.”

Indeed, Misty. Indeed.

The takeaway: You aren’t going to get to most elite levels of success by always playing the safe card. Take risks, but be strategic

You Need to Give Up These Toxic Habits If You Want to Be Confident and Successful

Confidence plays a huge role in your success — eliminating these bad habits will immediately boost your self-esteem.

According to a study from the University of Melbourne, individuals that gain high confidence are more likely to earn high wages and be promoted earlier and more frequently.

If you want to be exceptionally successful, you must learn to be your own best cheerleader. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

If you emanate confidence, others will be drawn to you. The sooner you can learn to be confident in the workplace, and drop the habits that are holding you back from doing so, the sooner you will see yourself starting to climb that ladder of success.

The good news is that nobody is naturally born confident — it’s something you learn. There’s also evidence suggesting that many of your common habits, mindsets and behaviors could be dragging down your self-esteem in the present.

Without further ado, here are some common behaviors you should give up in order to be more confident and successful. You’ll be surprised at how much they’re affecting your life:

Stop expecting perfection.

American journalist, activist, author of six best-selling books Maria Shriver once said, “Perfectionism doesn’t make you feel perfect; it makes you feel inadequate.”

Often, we strive for perfection because we seek approval and praise from others. When we obsess over how others perceive us, we are left unhappy, disappointed, and unconfident.

Although you should always aim to do your best work (and you should never be making sloppy mistakes), you can’t expect to take on new challenges without a few slip-ups along the way.

Next time you find yourself in this endless cycle of thinking your best isn’t good enough, take a moment to find gratitude for all you’ve been able to accomplish — and then move on.

Stop slouching.

A great deal of how our mind functions can be influenced by what our body is telling it to do. Not only does our body language send a message to others, but it also sends a message to ourselves.

According to social scientist Amy Cuddy, “power posing” can boost our sense of confidence and directly lead to greater success.

Power posing is when we use our bodies, on purpose and with intent, to create powerful movements that are more spread out and take up more space, creating this message of confidence to ourselves and others. Cuddy found that these movements actually produce more testosterone (the dominance hormone) and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), yielding individuals to take risks and to feel more positive about their abilities to achieve goals.

Stop being lazy with your wardrobe.

This may sound shallow, but remember, this is all about you, not about pleasing others.

You don’t have to be a fashionista to be self-assured (my receipts at T.J. Maxx can attest to that). But dressing like a slob isn’t doing you any favors in the confidence department.

Studies show that our mental state is linked with our wardrobe — if you wear an outfit associated with successful people, you’ll look, feel, and speak like a successful person. And if you dress like a “hot mess,” you’ll most likely act the part too.

So invest in yourself at the mall — your confidence is worth it. You don’t need to bust your budget at Prada, but you should get that sharp outfit, and even consider implementing a dress code to boost your whole team’s confidence.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” — Theodore Roosevelt

If you are in the habit of comparing yourself to others, and a big majority of us are, it’s time to stop. There will always be someone ahead of you, but the game of life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Whether you are feeling bad because you think your peers are doing better than you, or you are building yourself up based on their failures, both are unproductive and have the potential to be self-destructive. If you feel good about something you’ve done, enjoy it — you don’t need the recognition from others to affirm your accomplishments.

Also keep in mind that your perception of others is likely inaccurate, and the grass is actually sometimes not as green as it appears to be. A study done by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology shows that people are much more likely to display positive emotions than negative. So the next time you think the guy from marketing “has it all,” you may want to consider what he is not showing underneath it all.

Stop dwelling on your failures.

“The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.” — Barbara Corcoran

If you’re waking up every morning thinking about what went wrong the day before, you’re going about your career the wrong way.

Learning from your mistakes is Success 101. But the ultra-successful take it a step further by remembering the lessons and then forgetting the rest. Their philosophy and your new one: the past is the past and it cannot be undone. Learn from it and move on.

Stop letting others influence your self-esteem.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Like many other success stories, Roosevelt realized that she couldn’t choose who was happy with her and who wasn’t (and there were certainly plenty of people pretty unhappy with her).

Although she couldn’t control what people thought of her, she could control the way she thought about herself. Remember, no matter what life throws your way, this is something you can decide daily. So choose to realize your greatness — it’s something ultra successful people do daily. Don’t regret the choice of letting others influence your self-esteem.A baby step you can start today is to leave yourself positive notes daily.

Stop fearing the unknown.

Remember how nervous you were when you first hopped on a bike? That slight slope on the concrete sidewalk felt like a freefall down Mount Everest.

But after time passed and you embraced that “terrifying” new venture, all that discomfort washed away.

The phrase “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for,” is truer than ever for your confidence.

I’m not saying you should take on every crazy risk out there. But by realizing that your discomfort will go away over time, you can easily dive right into the uneasiness of those smart risks.

5 Ways to Keep Your Business Financially Sustainable

By Mark Thomasson

The rule of thumb for every business is that they should never run out of cash. Therefore, all the business transactions you make need to have a clear purpose and a tangible financial backup.

Thinkstockphotos 476777720 690x460

Due to the dynamic nature of contemporary business, keeping your finances in order is more of a rocky road than a bed of roses. To help business owners run their ventures as successfully as possible, we’ve prepared a set of crucial prerequisites to not only stay afloat but thrive in the marketplace.

1. Bring an Austerity Policy

From one point of view, it’s better for an inexperienced entrepreneur not to succeed to fast. If you have to struggle to make ends meet for some time, you’ll learn to appreciate both your work and your earnings. However, if you’re (un)lucky – depending on the perspective –to achieve your goals quickly, bring these clear austerity measures to keep your budget under control:

  • Allow for only essential purchases. Nothing but essential business items should be bought.
  • Limit recruitment and payroll. Avoid long-term employment contracts. Go for outsourcing and freelancers instead.
  • Benefit from business plan software. Use software tools to make detailed business plans.
  • Reduce overheads. Encourage employees to work from home and rent a smaller office space.

When your budget is reserved only for necessary business transactions, you’ll always have enough assets for your operations.

2. Open Separate Accounts

Using the business budget for personal expenditure is the biggest temptation new business owners face.

Some entrepreneurs make this mistake due to a lack of experience. However, others simply relax and start spending their business assets for private purposes. If you adopt such a lifestyle, you’ll have a wide range of problems. Your business will be in the red and it will take a lot of time to put it back in the black again.

To avoid such a misfortunate outcome, you need to have two separate accounts. One of them should be registered on your company and used solely for business transactions. On the other hand, your personal account will serve your private purposes. As for the amount of money you will take from your company monthly as a salary, study several different options to find the best one for your business’ long-term financial health.

3. Track Your Payments

… Continue reading

Catcher

1) Make yourself vulnerable
2) Demonstrate grace
3) Stand apart
4) Identify with the broken people
5) Speak life

Learn from my mistakes
Use what you have
Do everything for the Lord

15 Ways to Retire Earlier

AN EARLY START TO YOUR GOLDEN YEARS

The word “retirement” and number “65” are as linked in the North American psyche as “bacon” and “eggs.” Then again, that all depends on how fast you want your eggs, right?

Retiring early — or leaving the work force for the golf course, if you like — might sound like an unattainable goal. But there are many ways to make it, so long as you take numerous approaches into account.

Yes, 65 is the standard — but what’s 21st century life all about if not exceeding standards? Here are 15 major financial and lifestyle moves you can make to achieve this goal.

Are you fantasizing about early retirement. Here’s how to make that dream a reality.

1. LIVE TWO TO THREE TIMES BELOW YOUR MEANS

Sorry, folks: Simply skipping that $4 latte in the morning ain’t gonna cut it. It takes a much more committed approach where “sacrifices” are viewed in a new light. “It’s amazing when I work through the numbers that some people think manicures, landscapers and maids are a need,” said Michael Chadwick, a certified financial planner and CEO of Chadwick Financial Advisors in Unionville, Conn.

2. REDEFINE ‘COMFORTABLE RETIREMENT’

Less spending later constitutes the flip side of less spending now. If you imagine comfy retirement as a vacation home and monthly cruise ship trips, revisit that vision so you don’t have to bleed cash — but can still retire in style. Instead of two homes, for example, why not live in your vacation destination and pocket the principal from selling your primary residence?

3. PAY OFF ALL YOUR DEBT

That’s right, all of it. First: Is it time to pay off your home? You might not have the resources now to plunk down one huge check, but consider savvy alternatives such as switching from a 30-year to 15-year mortgage. Monthly payments aren’t much higher, but the principal payoff is much greater. Second: Do the same with loans and credit cards, as high interest eats up income faster than termites chewing a log. A credit card balance of just $15,000 with an APR of 19.99 percent will take you five years to eradicate at $400 a month — and you’ll dish out a total of $23,764.48, the calculator on timevalue.com shows.

4. CONSIDER OVERLOOKED FINANCIAL RESOURCES

While it’s risky to count on unknowns such as an inheritance, you might have cash streams available outside the traditional retirement realm, said Jennifer E. Acuff, wealth advisor with TrueWealth Management in Atlanta. For example, “Understand your options with respect to any pensions you might be entitled to from current or previous employers.”

5. INVEST EARLY AND AGGRESSIVELY

If you’re in your 20s and start investing now, you’re in luck, said Joseph Jennings Jr., investment director for PNC Wealth Management in Baltimore. “Due to the power of compounding, the first dollar saved is the most important, as it has the most growth potential over time.” As an example, Jennings compares $10,000 saved at age 25 versus 60. “The 25-year-old has 40 years of growth potential at the average retirement age of 65, whereas $10,000 saved at age 60 only has five years of growth potential.”

6. MARRIED COUPLES: PLAY RETIREMENT ACCOUNT MATCHMAKER

The wisdom of taking advantage of a company match on the 401(k) is well established — but think about how that power is accelerated if a working couple does it with two such company matches. “If your employer has a matching contribution inside of your company’s plan, make sure you always contribute at least enough to receive it,” said Kevin J. Meehan, regional president-Chicago with Wealth Enhancement Group. “You are essentially leaving money on the table if you don’t.”

7. PRACTICE SOUND CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT

The methodology is simple, yet the results can be profound: Put money at least monthly into systematic investments during your working years. “There’s no other element of investment planning or portfolio management that’s more essential over the long term,” said Jesse Mackey, chief investment officer of 4Thought Financial Group in Syosset, N.Y.

8. JUMP ON EMPLOYER STOCK PURCHASE PLANS

How about some free money? The ESPP typically works by payroll deduction, with the company converting the money into shares every six months at a 15 percent discount. If you immediately liquidate those shares every time they’re delivered, it’s like get a guaranteed 15 percent rate of return,” said Dave Yeske, managing director at the wealth management firm Yeske Buie and director of the financial planning program at Golden Gate University. “Add the after-tax proceeds to your supplemental retirement savings.”

9. START THAT RETIREMENT ACCOUNT TODAY

That is, the earlier the better. Millennials who kick off retirement accounts early will reap big rewards later. A 25-year-old who socks away $4,000 a year for just 10 years (with a 10 percent annual return rate) will accrue more than $883,000 by the time she turns 60. Now then: Can’t you just taste those pina coladas on the beach?

10. PLAN SMART VACATIONS AND TRAVEL — AND INVEST THE DIFFERENCE

There’s no sense in depriving yourself of every single thing, especially well-deserved time off. But Yeske points out that you can save a ton in 150 countries through a service called HomeExchange.com. “My wife and I have stayed for free in London, Amsterdam, New York and Costa Rica,” he said. “And when you’re staying in someone’s home or apartment, you don’t have to eat out at a restaurant for every meal, so your food costs nothing more than if you were at home.”

11. DON’T LET YOUR MONEY SIT IDLE

To get to an early retirement, you have to periodically revisit your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement account to make sure your money doesn’t grow cobwebs. For example, the way your retirement account is diversified shouldn’t put too much emphasis on low-yield investments — such as money market funds and low-yielding bonds. “Dividends can pile up in the money market account, typically earning one one-hundredth of a percent,” Yeske said. “Make sure your cash is invested properly.

12. HOP OFF THE HEDONIC TREADMILL

In this curse of consumerism, you buy something expensive, feel excited and then scout for something else to purchase when the “new car smell” wears off. And it’s a huge trap if you want early retirement, said Pete, a finance blogger who retired in his 30s. Another advantage: “Here in the rich world,” he wrote at MrMoneyMoustache.com, “the only widespread form of slavery is the economic type.”

 

13. LOOK FOR PASSIVE SOURCES OF INCOME

Early retirement doesn’t necessarily mean retiring all of your income, especially if you find ways to bring in money without hard work. Investing in rental properties is one way you can create a cash flow stream — and you can minimize the labor by hiring a property manager. Or: Set up an internet sales business and hire a part-timer to fulfill orders and track stock based on volume

14. ENLIST IN THE ARMED FORCES

Here’s an alternative way to get to “At ease, men.” By serving in the military, you can also serve yourself. Members commonly retire after 20 years, living off generous pensions and health insurance. Even though President Obama in March proposed sweeping changes to military retirement and health benefits, earlier-than-normal retirement should still remain an option for many men and women in uniform.

15. HIT THE ROAD OR GO JUMP IN A LAKE, INDEFINITELY

Some middle agers are selling the bulk of their possessions — including the home — and moving into tricked-out mobile homes and houseboats. These options also open the door to a life of leisure travel and can eliminate major expenses, such as property taxes and mortgage payments.

If you think of retiring early as simply walking away from everyday life — and thus a pipe dream — it’s time to take a step back and look at how others have done it. You might enjoy your job immensely and have friends in the trenches with you. But if work is taking too much away from your family time, community bonds, overall health and peace of mind, you might do well to consider one of the smartest alternative investments of all: yourself.