Five Ways to Better Understand and Appreciate Your Partner

Relationships — no matter how deep the love — are difficult. Just as we matured and evolved from our teen to early adult years, we keep growing. Life’s experiences — joyful, sorrowful and challenging  — affect our personalities, our outlooks and our hopes and dreams. As we grow older, we can’t help but change. That means our relationships do, too. And that means they require care, time and a willingness to walk in the other’s shoes, to see the world through their eyes, to understand their perspective. One of the key elements in healthy, thriving relationships, psychologists and marriage experts say, is understanding each other. We all want to be heard, to be appreciated for who we are.

Here are five simple ways to help you to understand your partner as well as improve your communication and connection with each other.

Be Present In The Moment

When disagreements occur, focus on the present. In other words, be there. Listen actively to what your partner is saying without letting your thoughts and feelings creep in. Allow yourself to really hear him or her. If you’re already formulating your responses while your partner is talking, then you’re not really listening. This same idea applies to any conversation you may have with your partner, not just the difficult ones.

Choose The Right Words

Effectively delivering your message begins with picking and choosing the right words to say. Use “I” rather than “you” when trying to communicate your feelings. By saying, “I felt sad when you didn’t call me  . . . ” rather than “You always ignore me when . . . ” leaves room for conversation and space to meet in the middle. It isn’t accusatory and it doesn’t create feelings of defensiveness. Assumptions many times lead to misunderstandings which you should make a conscious effort to avoid at all costs.

Own Up to Your Mistakes

Take responsibility for your own actions and emotions. If your stress or frustration elicits negative responses or creates tense situations, acknowledge the fact. Be accountable to yourself and to your partner. We sometimes feel that saying “I’m sorry” or explaining that we aren’t at our best is a sign of failure. But it’s really a sign of strength and self-confidence in the relationship, that we will love each other despite our imperfections.

Stay Focused

Keep discussions about an issue brief and concise. Don’t bring additional baggage into the conversation as that can tumbleweed into a much larger ordeal. Focus on one point, keep voices calm and then move on. Bringing up too much or extending the time spent discussing the conflict at hand only stirs the pot and prevents reaching a clear solution to the problem.

Make Time for Each Other

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to improve your understanding of one another is to ensure you set aside time each week just for the two of you. Take turns choosing the date or activity — and be positive about whatever they select, even if that wouldn’t be your first choice. Being willing to do something for your partner, even when it’s not part of your interests, shows you understand what is fulfilling and important to your partner. And, you never know, you might end up enjoying it more than you expected!

So, keeping the fire burning isn’t so difficult when you slow down, take time to listen with heart and head, and are willing to step back a bit to see the perspective of the one you love. Emotions can get messy and muddy the waters. But communicating how you feel with patience, respect and honor for one other can only strengthen and deepen the love that brought you together in the first place.

Glen and Joya BakerFive Ways to Better Understand and Appreciate Your Partner
Read More

Tips For Making Your Mentoring Experience Truly Rewarding

If you’ve ever had someone take you under their wing, then you know how truly rewarding and invaluable a mentoring relationship can be. It can have an impactful influence on someone else’s life. In addition, it is just as much of an important learning experience for you as a mentor as it is for your pupil.

For some, the idea of mentoring can be intimidating. Perhaps you think you don’t have enough experience or time to be of value to your mentee. But instead of thinking “Why me?” change your mindset and instead think “Why not me?”.

Here are three tips to ensure your mentoring experience is truly rewarding, for both you and your mentee.

Make Yourself Available

Have you ever worked in an office that has an “open door” policy? While it is great in theory, oftentimes these well-meaning policies never come to fruition. Many have had their fair share of being shut down by their superiors or mentors who always seem to be too busy, despite having an “open door” policy.

So when it comes to your mentees, make yourself available to them and easy to reach. They are looking to us for feedback and its important to let them know that you care and are there for them. This can go a long way in building trust in your mentor-mentee relationship.

Share Your Experiences and Expertise  

Chances are, you’ve had many times throughout your career where you’ve run into challenging situations. Some of our most trying times and failures can be when we learn the most. Sharing these experiences with your mentee can be big teaching moments, especially when it comes to showing how even our failures can be our successes as long as we learn from them.

There is always value in the experiences you’ve had, whether professional or personal, that can be vital to your mentees growth. You are the expert, and the knowledge you impart will help your mentee apply it to their own situations.

Be a Sounding Board

While mentees look to us for guidance, it is important to be actively engaged and listen when they present their obstacles to us. This helps us as mentors to be best equipped to guide them through difficult situations.

Being able to give sound advice is important in mentorship; but having the discipline to be patient and truly interested in their dialogue is equally as important. Oftentimes there is just as much for us to learn from our mentees as there is for our mentees to learn from us. And having an open ear is just one way to achieve this.

There’s no shortage of people and professionals who need additional guidance in their lives. Mentorship is highly rewarding and helps to develop your leadership skills, which ultimately translate to your professional career. And perhaps more importantly, sharing your insights through mentoring is incredibly rewarding to your mentee and enriching to their life.

 

Glen and Joya BakerTips For Making Your Mentoring Experience Truly Rewarding
Read More

3 Holiday Recipes Your Family Will Love

The holidays are a truly magical time of the year. The holidays are all about showing your loved ones how important they are and letting them know that you cherish them. Bring your family and friends together for a night of laughs and good food with these simple, yet delicious holiday recipes.

The Grinch Kabobs

These are perfect for anyone with young children or grandchildren. Make some precious memories and let the little ones help you make these delicious, healthy kabobs. All you will need is green grapes, bananas, strawberries, mini marshmallows, and toothpicks. You can find the full recipe here.

Holiday Honeycrisp Salad

This salad is the perfect appetizer for any dinner table. The crisp, sweet, and tangy flavors are the perfect start to your holiday family dinner. Not to mention the gorgeous combination of red apples, green salad, and white cheese brings an effortless holiday appearance to the table. You can find the full recipe here.

Cranberry Pecan Mini Goat Cheese Balls

This savory appetizer is sure to dazzle any dinner guest. The combination of goat cheese, cream cheese, white cheddar cheese, cranberries, chives, and pecans will not only taste amazing but look amazing. This recipe is simple, quick, and packed with holiday flavor. Click here to find the full recipe and ingredient list.

The best way to bring people together is through lovingly prepared food and good company. Whether you’re cooking for a large holiday party or a small family dinner, these holiday recipes are sure to dazzle everyone at the table. Just be sure to remember the secret ingredient in every recipe – love!

What’s your family’s favorite holiday recipe?

 

Glen and Joya Baker3 Holiday Recipes Your Family Will Love
Read More

3 Things to Focus on Everyday to Become a Better Person

It’s easy to lose sight of your conscious self-improvement goals when your life is filled with packed schedules and long to-do lists. Especially with the holidays approaching, it’s extra important to make time to re-evaluate where you are on your self-improvement journey to make sure you constantly becoming a better version of yourself whether you’re at home or in your community. Here are 3 things you should focus on everyday to become a better person.

Your values

Your values and priorities in life are essentially what guide your decision making, your actions, and ultimately determine the kind of person you become. That’s why it’s so important to reassess your values and make sure they shine through in every encounter and are reflected in every conversation you have each day. Take time each day to focus on how you will make your values shine through in your life. If you can make your values visible in the way you live, they will become the things that define you as a person.

Your role models

Identify the people in your life who influence you to be better and do better every day. These people may be your mentors, your friends, your family members, or truly whoever pushes you to challenge yourself and become a better version of yourself day in and day out. Once you identify these influential people, strive to make sure you conduct yourself in your daily habits and interactions the same way your role models would. In doing so, you will lead a life you’re proud of.

Your passions

Maintain your vision for the future and whatever it is that excites you in life. If you make an effort to consciously recall your passions every day, you will maintain your excitement and constantly challenge yourself to reach your goals. Whatever it is that fuels you and gives you a source of fulfillment, don’t lose it. Keep your passions visible every day to proactively become a better you.

If you keep these 3 things in mind each day, you will have all the reason you need to improve yourself every morning when you hop out of bed. Remember to focus on these three things to become the person you want to be.

Glen and Joya Baker3 Things to Focus on Everyday to Become a Better Person
Read More

How to Change Your Perspective from the Inside Out

If you’ve decided wholeheartedly to make a lifestyle change, then congratulations! Making the decision to change the way your life looks is a hard decision in itself because it means deciding to live your life with the steady commitment, sacrifice, and dedication that will allow your new lifestyle to become a reality. However, the next step in giving your lifestyle a makeover is not as simple. It means giving it your all and actually following through with the goals you set for yourself in the first place. Essentially, it requires a completely changed, or at least a redirected perspective, in order to transform the way you live your life. Here are three simple steps on how to change your perspective from the inside out.

Start fresh

First things first, to change the way your life looks from the inside out, you will need to detox yourself from all of the unwanted things that clutter your life currently. Detox your mind and body from bad habits and any sort of unhealthy tendencies. Clear your life of anything you don’t want or need in order to make room for positive changes to revolutionize the way you live your life.

Make a plan

Next, you will need a plan of action as to how you will actually follow through with your decision and authentically change your perspective from the inside out. Make sure you have a game plan in place before it’s too late. Consider the hardships you might face along the way and have a strategy in mind that will allow you to defeat these setbacks before they have the chance to defeat you.

Change your routines

The third and final step is to actually launch your new lifestyle into action. Start small by changing one area of your life at a time. Be patient with yourself, and don’t expect every part of your life to change at once. Changing one routine at a time will eventually change your entire perspective and completely alter the way your life looks.

Changing your perspective from the inside out can seem like a daunting and nearly impossible task at first. However, if you break it down into these three steps and commit yourself to whatever it is you want most, anything is possible.

Glen and Joya BakerHow to Change Your Perspective from the Inside Out
Read More

Why You Need to Learn Lessons the Hard Way

One of the hardest but most important things to learn as a parent is when to teach your children lessons the hard way. No one enjoys watching the people they love to experience the hardships and heartbreaks in life. But life isn’t always easy. We all know that there will come a point in everyone’s experience where things don’t go as planned, and the only way to get through it is with courage and a mature perspective. But there is no class you can take that teaches you how to handle the hard parts of life with grace––only life experience can teach you that. This is why it’s important to learn lessons the hard way. 

Instead, the best and most effective thing you can do to help your children learn is to teach by example. Next time life throws you a curveball, teach your children how to handle hardships with grace by leading by example. Hold your head high and face whatever it is the same kind of courage you want your kids to take note of. Although they are young, kids notice more than what we give them credit for, and if you teach by example they are much more likely to incorporate the habits they learn from you into their own life.

But how are you supposed to just stand by and watch your kids learn lessons the hard way when every ounce of your being is telling you to swing in, hold their hand, and walk them through it every step of the way? It’s no easy task, but you have to remember that when you don’t intervene you’re helping them learn by letting them learn. They may experience some hurt feelings along the way, but these hurt feelings are temporary. The lessons they will learn by overcoming them will last a lifetime.

So that’s why it’s so important to let your children make their own mistakes and learn life’s lessons the hard way. It’s never an easy thing to do, but you have to ask yourself if you would rather your kids going through life with naivety and innocence or with the boldness and audacity to overcome adversity. The truth is if you never let your kids learn lessons the hard way, they’ll never learn how to overcome hardships on their own.

Glen and Joya BakerWhy You Need to Learn Lessons the Hard Way
Read More

5 Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship

Fostering healthy and meaningful relationships is one of the best and most effective ways to improve your success in business and your fulfillment in life. Whether you seek advice from a life coach or business mentor or you find clarity from discussing your current situations with a lifelong friend, family member, or spouse, feeling connected to people has a very direct impact on your personal and professional well-being.

However, it’s important to pay attention to the ways these relationships affect and influence our daily lives. Relationships change just like people do, and not all relationships are going to be perfect forever. A relationship that was once a source of happiness may no longer be providing you with the same health benefits it used to. And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with admitting a relationship has run its course as long as you can identify when it is no longer providing you with positivity, happiness, and fulfillment. Read these 5 signs to make sure you can recognize the red flags of a toxic relationship.

You have mismatched life goals

You learn and grow best when you are influenced by people who share common life goals and similar values. These relationships are a constant reminder to be better and do more in the pursuit of your dreams. But if you are constantly surrounding yourself with people who are chasing an entirely different dream or lead a way of life in contrast to your own, the relationship is likely providing more harm than good to your own life path.

Your relationships take more than they give

Whether they drain you of time, energy, or emotion, relationships can be toxic when they take more from you than they give. Healthy relationships should be mutually beneficial and established on the fundamental purpose to build each other up and meet each other’s needs. Whether it’s to provide insight and advice or offer support, every relationship you have in life should be a source of fulfillment––not the opposite. If your relationship is feeling a little one-sided lately, it may be time to reevaluate the purpose of this relationship in your life.

You constantly judge and criticize him or her

There are virtually zero benefits to a relationship where you find yourself constantly judging and criticizing the other person. Often times, these negative habits are rooted in selfishness or jealousy and drain you of valuable energy that should be used in more beneficial areas of your life. Not to mention, the reason you find yourself in constant criticism is because of a disconnect in life values, and your partner is likely judging and criticizing your life values as well. And no one has the time, energy, and effort for a toxic relationship like that.

Spending time with him or her feels like a chore

If making plans with someone feels more like something to check off your to-do list rather than spending enjoyable time together, then something in your relationship has gone off track. Whether you feel drained from his or her constant negativity or your conversations and time together no longer feel as fulfilling as it used to, it may be time to let the relationship lapse.

The only thing you have in common is the past

Sometimes relationships evolve from time and circumstance depending on your stage of life. But people move through life at different speeds, and keeping relationships that cause you to dwell on the past may actually be hindering your ability to advance in life. You need relationships that keep you proactive and forward-thinking, so you can constantly work towards your future instead of staying in your past.

More than anything, make sure the relationships in your life are nothing short of fulfilling because you don’t deserve anything less than that.

 

Glen and Joya Baker5 Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship
Read More

Patriotic Destinations For the Fourth of July

Fourth of July fills us with a sense of pride as we celebrate our history and freedom. But our freedom did not come easily. These patriotic destinations hold the stories of what makes our country so great. After visiting these patriotic destinations and learning the history behind our country, you will leave with a renewed sense of patriotism.

Independence Hall

This is where it all began. Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Independence Hall is where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. The Constitution was also signed here in 1787. You can also see the Liberty Bell and other historical museums and sites within Independence National Historic Park. There isn’t a better place to put you in a patriotic mood!

Statue of Liberty

Except for the flag, the Statue of Liberty is most of the most recognized symbols in America. Located in New York City, the Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of hope, freedom, and liberty since it was gifted to the United States in 1886 by the French. See where millions of immigrants took their first steps on America soil in the pursuit of a better life.

Arlington National Cemetery

This is the final resting place of not only important figures throughout U.S history but also thousands of soldiers who lost their lives to protect our nation and everything it believes in. Every Fourth of July we should take a moment to remember not only active soldiers and veterans but also those who have fallen. When visiting this site, be sure to provide our fallen with the utmost respect. Instruct children not to run or yell while on the grounds.

National Mall

Located in Washington DC, the National Mall holds three national monuments. At the west end sits the Lincoln Memorial, a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, as a symbol of unity, strength, and wisdom. In the center sits the Washington Monument. The Washington Monument, which commemorates George Washington, stands over 555 feet fall, making it the tallest stone structure in the world. At the east end sits the U.S Capitol. The U.S Capitol, which houses the Senate and House of Representatives, is a monument of the enduring freedom and liberty that guides the United States.

When visiting our nation’s historic sites, take a minute and think of all the work and sacrifice that took place to give us our freedom. It took many courageous people to make our country the great nation that it is, and we should honor those people.

Glen and Joya BakerPatriotic Destinations For the Fourth of July
Read More

Asking the Smart Questions: A Lesson for Success

Voltaire got it right when he said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” In mentoring, as in life, asking questions is the primary way we learn to do better and be better. Questioning things we don’t understand is the most effective way to enhance learning, develop critical thinking skills, and build trust between the question-asker and the question-answerer. The key to success, however, is knowing when and how to ask the right questions. It’s knowing that while it may be true that there is no such thing as a stupid question, there is such a thing as a smart question. So yes, some questions are better than others, and those who ask smart questions are more likely to be the best at what they do because they learn in the best possible way as well.

But what makes a question a smart question?

First off, it is a question asked with intention. It is directed at understanding a specific goal, concept, or idea and is asked in fine detail. It is well-informed and relevant in such a way that it does not sound willfully ignorant. Does this mean you must be an expert to ask a question about a specific idea? No, but it does mean that you have to have done your homework. You have to have researched the information enough to understand the basic foundation of your question so that it is coming from an analytical perspective. A smart question may be framed with the phrase “Can you explain more about X, so that I may better understand Y?” You should know exactly the kind of information you are looking for so that your question creates clarity and you don’t end up with an open-ended answer.

A smart question is also not laced with judgment or asked in a condescending or undermining manner. It should be founded in facts and respect and asked out of honest curiosity. Smart questions express a certain level of empowerment and ownership towards the person to whom you are directing your question. For instance, “Based on your experience, what do you think is the next step?”

More than anything, a smart question is one that is asked to learn something you didn’t know before, and it is asked in a way that acknowledges the ideas and opinions of others. It offers thought and a fresh perspective and encourages others to see things in unpredictable ways. It pushes others to think critically, analytically, and creatively in hopes of provoking inner reflection. For example, consider asking something along the lines of “What did you learn from previous trials that made this one successful?”

As all things in life, timing is everything and asking a smart question is no exception. Make sure to consider the timing and relevance of the conversation and ask your question in a way that further encourages or propels the discussion forward.

By following these guidelines to ask the smartest question, you are ensuring the smartest response.

Glen and Joya BakerAsking the Smart Questions: A Lesson for Success
Read More

The Lessons We Should Teach All Kids Before They Enter a Classroom

Merriam-Webster defines knowledge as “the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association or the acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique.” In other words, knowledge is the collection of skills, facts, and information. It also seems to be the primary reason to send children to school. We want them to learn and to know things, to become knowledgeable, if you will, about the world they live in. We want them to succeed from an educational standpoint, and the environment inside classrooms reinforces this principle.

This mentality starts at a very young age. Elementary-schoolers are exposed to test-taking by the ripe, young age of six with first-grade level spelling tests. Essentially, this test-taking mindset never stops throughout a child’s entire education, and arguably through their entire life.  Children learn very early on that the grade received on a test represents how well the child does or does not master the material. There is a certain degree of validity to test-taking and the assessment of knowledge because we have to be sure that our children are learning, understanding and mastering material before moving on.

But, what happens when kids start comparing grades? What happens when children start realizing they’re actually not as smart as they believed themselves to be? That seemingly insignificant number circled in red pen on their assignment starts to mean a lot more. Their small, little world comes shattering down and crushes their desire to learn along with it.

If test-taking ensures the learning, understanding and mastering of certain skills and information, where is the assessment to make sure this information is actually being processed correctly? Where is the emphasis on the actual enterprises of the mind and not merely just the ability to collect and remember facts and information?

That being said, there are some lessons we should teach all kids before they enter a classroom.

 

Unfortunately, there may never be an accurate and completely foolproof way to fairly measure the actual processes of learning that take place inside children’s minds. But, there is a way to increase the chances of it. This is why we have to, we absolutely must, teach kids the difference between knowledge and intelligence before they enter the classroom. Before they take their first test. Before they get the wrong idea about the purpose of education.

Children must be aware that if knowledge is the collection of information learned in school, intelligence is the application of it. Intelligence is the truer indicator of a person’s cognition, but it’s just harder to measure. The rhetoric and narrative that surrounds children and their need to succeed are founded far too much in the emphasis on knowledge.

So before your kids enter a classroom for the first time, emphasize the fact that the number at the top of any test they ever take doesn’t accurately represent just how smart they truly are. What really matters is the ability to apply information learned in school to other situations. Inform them that their level of intelligence is much more valuable than their ability to collect information. If you do this, you’ll see much more successful results perhaps in school, but especially in life.

Glen and Joya BakerThe Lessons We Should Teach All Kids Before They Enter a Classroom
Read More