How Long Do Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report & Affect Your Score?

Your credit score is an important part of your financial life. Good credit can help you qualify for loans and credit cards and secure lower interest rates on those loans. Poor credit can make it expensive to borrow money and make some lenders refuse to lend you any money at all.

Usually, when you apply for a loan or credit card, the lender looks at a copy of your credit report. This places an inquiry on your report, which drops your score by a few points.

Understanding the impact of credit inquiries and how long the impact lasts can help you manage your credit score while applying for loans.

Calculating Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a three-digit number that lenders can use to quickly gauge your trustworthiness as a borrower. Scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850, with higher scores being better. Generally, anything above 760 is seen as an excellent score while scores above 700 are good.

There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Each tracks your interactions with debt and credit to build a credit report for you. Using the information on those reports, as well as a formula from FICO, they calculate your credit score, often called your FICO score.

There are five factors that affect your credit score.

1. Payment History

Your payment history is the most important part of your credit score, determining more than a third of it alone. It tracks your history of timely vs late and missed payments. Making timely payments helps your score. Missed and late payments hurt your score.

One missed or late payment has a much larger impact on your credit than a single timely payment, so it’s essential that you work to never miss a due date if you want to have good credit.

2. Credit Utilization

Your credit utilization measures two things, your total amount of debt and the amount of credit card debt you have in relation to your credit card’s combined limits. The less debt you have, the better it is for your credit score.

3. Length of Credit History

The length of your credit history is also composed of two factors. One is the total amount of time you’ve had access to credit. A longer credit history means more experience with debt, which can help your score.

The other is the average age of your credit accounts. Lenders prefer borrowers who stick with credit cards and loans over those who bounce from account to account. The older your average account, the better it will be for your score.

4. Credit Mix

The more different types of loans you’ve had, such as mortgages, auto loans, and student loans, the better it will be for your credit score. Dealing with different types of debt shows that you can handle all the different types of credit.

5. New Credit

New credit looks at both any new accounts that you’ve opened as well as new loans you’ve applied for. This is where credit inquiries appear on your report. Each inquiry can decrease your credit score slightly.


What Is a Credit Inquiry & How Long Does It Affect Your Credit?

When you apply for a new credit card or a loan, the lender wants to know whether you’ll repay your debts.

Typically the lender asks one or more of the credit bureaus to send a copy of your credit report. When a credit bureau receives the request, it makes a note of the inquiry on your credit report. Each credit inquiry decreases your score by a few points.

Credit inquiries reduce your score because applying for new loans on a regular basis can indicate a risky borrower. If someone asks a lender if they can borrow $25,000 to buy a car, that is a relatively reasonable request.

But if someone asks to borrow $25,000 for a car, then needs another $10,000 personal loan the next week, and $50,000 the week after that, and then a new credit card a day later, it can throw up red flags. The person might be sending in so many applications because they’re running into financial trouble or because they don’t plan to repay those debts.

A single inquiry on your credit report can reduce your score between five and 10 points. It’s not a huge impact, but it’s noticeable for someone who is right on the border between good and excellent credit or fair and good credit.

Each additional inquiry drops your score, so applying for multiple loans can cause your credit score to drop quickly.

The impact of each credit inquiry reduces over time. If the rest of your credit report is good, your score will return almost to normal within a few months. Inquiries completely fall off your report after two years.


Hard Inquiries vs. Soft Inquiries

When someone checks your credit report, it can place an inquiry on the report and drop your score. This can sound scary to people who use a credit monitoring service to keep an eye on their credit score.

The good news is that not every inquiry will hurt your credit score. When you apply for credit, lenders typically make something called a hard inquiry when asking the credit bureaus for a copy of your report. The bureaus take note of hard inquiries and put them on your credit report.

By contrast, soft inquiries are used by credit monitoring services or companies offering promotional credit offers or those helping you check if you’re pre-approved for certain products.

The credit bureaus don’t record soft inquiries into your credit, which means that soft inquiries have no effect on your credit score.

In simple terms, applying for a new loan or credit card usually involves a hard inquiry. Checking your credit without actually applying for a loan or credit card usually involves a soft inquiry.


What About Rate Shopping?

One of the best ways to save money on a loan — especially a large loan like a mortgage or an auto loan — is to shop around. If you get quotes from multiple lenders, you can choose the one with the lowest interest rate and fees to minimize your costs.

If each application results in a hard inquiry that hurts your credit score, rate shopping too extensively could damage your credit.

The good news for borrowers is that the FICO scoring formula accounts for the importance of rate shopping. For large loans like mortgages, auto loans, and student loans, all inquiries that occur within a short span — 14 to 45 days depending on the formula used — are treated as a single inquiry when calculating your score.

That means that you can safely compare rates from multiple lenders, as long as you get your quotes within a short period.


Final Word

Applying for credit cards or loans can place credit inquiries on your credit report, which can drop your score. To make sure you keep your score healthy, do your best to only apply for loans that you need.

As long as you use your credit responsibly and don’t apply for too many accounts in a short period, you shouldn’t have to worry about the impact that inquiries have on your credit score.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Design a Home for Every Climate

The decision to build your own home is not one to be taken lightly. Not only is the process time consuming and expensive, but there are a wide variety of things that need to be taken into account when creating a dream home. Outside of the more traditional checklists that include layout, amenities, renewable energy options and proper HVAC design, an element that is often overlooked is creating a home that works with—not against—it’s surrounding environment.

Once the decision of where to build has been made, consider the average climate. Ask yourself: what are the issues you might deal with on a day to day basis? Then work to implement exterior and interior features that will help prevent potential issues down the line. For example, if you live in a colder climate, you’ll want to use gable roofing to help shed snow and south facing windows to increase your daily sun intake. But you’ll want to avoid uneven walkways that make shoveling snow impossible and high ceilings that will collect and waste heat. The Zebra took a look at the four most common climates for home builders, and broke down home design tips per climate to help maximize your home’s efficiency throughout the year no matter where you live.


Source: homes.com

Everything You Need to Know About Bill Gates’ Extraordinary House, Xanadu 2.0

Not many houses have their own Wikipedia page. But then again, few residences have owners with a net worth greater than the GDP of over 100 countries.

Once the richest man in the world, the Microsoft co-founder is now #4 on the list of wealthiest people, surpassed only by Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and French LVMH founder, Bernard Arnault. Bill Gates’ net worth is a mind-boggling $130 billion, though in recent years he’s stepped aside from most of his business endeavors to run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable foundation.

Despite his vast wealth, Bill Gates didn’t stray too far from home. Born and raised in Seattle, WA, the billionaire lives in a 66,000-square-foot mansion built into a hillside overlooking Lake Washington in Medina — a small city on the opposite shore from Seattle. Ironically, the tiny city (which had a population of just under 3,000 people at the 2010 census) is also home to fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos.

Bill Gates house near Seattle, Washington
Bill Gates’ home near Seattle, Washington. Image credit: house via reddit, snapshot via Wikimedia Commons, author Simon Davis/DFID

Gates’ house — which goes by the name of Xanadu 2.0, after the fictional home of Charles Foster Kane, the title character of Orson Welles’ infamous Citizen Kane — is worth well over $100 million and boasts some unique features worthy of its owner’s deep pockets. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

The house has almost as many kitchens as it has bedrooms

The massive 66,000-square-foot home fits many rooms with very different uses between its numerous walls. To list some of the most conventional ones first, Gates’ house has 7 bedrooms, 24 bathrooms (yes, you read that right, that equals over three bathrooms for each bedroom suite), and an impressive total of 6 kitchens.

If you think that’s one burner stove too many, it will make more sense once you learn that the billionaire’s home has a 2,300-square-foot reception hall that can accommodate up to 200 people. The dining room alone sits 24.

There’s also a 60-foot pool, a 1,500-square-foot art deco theater, and a 1-bedroom guest house where Gates reportedly wrote his book, The Road Ahead, while the main house was still being built.

Another unique feature is a massive 2,500-square-foot fitness facility that has a trampoline room with a 20-foot ceiling (which tells you quite a bit about the billionaire’s favorite way to blow off some steam). It also has a sauna, steam room, and separate men’s and women’s locker rooms.

Xanadu 2.0’s most striking room is the library

An avid reader whose book lists hold headlines every year, Bill Gates made sure his house has with a massive — and downright impressive — library.

bill gates in his home office
While images from inside of Bill Gates’ home are hard to come by, Netflix’s documentary Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates gave us a sneak peak of how the billionaire lives. Pictured here: Bill Gates in his home office. Image credit: Saeed Adyani courtesy of Netflix

From a design perspective, the paneled library spans 2,100 square feet and features a domed reading room and two secret pivoting bookcases, one of which was fitted with a bar. At the base of the dome, there’s a memorable quote inscribed, taken from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. It reads, “He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it.”

But the value of the room extends beyond its design, to the books and manuscripts you’ll find inside. Among them is Leonardo da Vinci’s 16th-century collection of scientific writings, the Codex Leicester, which Gates purchased for a whopping $30.8 million.

Bill Gates’ house is as tech-heavy as you’d expect

As you’d probably expect from a man who once revolutionized the world of personal computers, the Microsoft cofounder’s home is heavy on tech, incorporating some very unique uses for technology.

The house features an estate-wide server system, a 60-foot swimming pool with an underwater music system, and about $80,000 worth of computer screens lined up around the house to display art. In fact, visitors and guests of Gates mansion are given devices (worth an extra $150,000) to pick and choose their favorite paintings or photographs to display.

According to Business Insider, the house also comes with a high-tech sensor system helps guests monitor each room’s climate and lighting. When visiting Gates’ house, guests receive a pin that interacts with the sensors, allowing them to change temperature and lighting settings as they see fit. Moreover, there are also speakers hidden behind the wallpaper, which means music can follow visitors as they move from one room to the next.

The house took 7 years to build

In a tribute to its moniker (the word Xanadu is defined as an idealized place of great or idyllic magnificence and beauty), Bill Gates’ home is an architectural feat that took 7 years — and lots of manpower — to complete.

Bill Gates' house as seen in summer 2015 from Lake Washington.
Bill Gates’ house as seen in summer 2015 from Lake Washington. Image credit: Dllu via Wikimedia Commons.

Xanadu 2.0’s architecture, a modern design in the Pacific lodge style, is the result of the combined efforts of Cutler-Anderson Architects and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Ironically, the latter is most known for creating the signature aesthetic of the Apple Stores.

What sets it aside is that it’s also an “earth-sheltered house”, which means it uses its natural surroundings as walls for temperature and to reduce heat loss.

According to an older report, the house was built with 500-year-old Douglas fir timbers rescued from an ancient lumber mill, painstakingly sanded and refinished. In total, half a million board feet of lumber was used during construction.

More homes with famous owners

“Neverland” No More! The Past & Present of Michael Jackson’s Former Home
The Mysterious Allure of Stephen King’s House, the Beating Heart of Bangor, Maine
The Three (Tragic) Lives of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin HouseErnest Hemingway’s Iconic House in Key West Stands Tall and Mighty After 170 Hurricane Seasons

Source: fancypantshomes.com

12 Hidden Costs of Raising a Child – Expenses Parents Should Budget For

A USDA report pegs the total cost of raising a child at $233,610, or $284,570 if you factor in future inflation. That includes only the basics however, and excludes costs like helping with college education, birthday parties, and holiday gifts.

Include those, and you’re looking at $745,634, according to a report by NerdWallet — a jarring amount, no matter how much you earn.

Most of us know that kids come with extra costs like clothing, food, and possibly college tuition. But what about the hidden costs of raising a child? Kids require more than food and clothes, and often the less obvious costs get lost in estimates of just how much children cost to rear.

As you consider having children or plan your finances for an existing family, keep the following costs in mind. Just remember that although these expenses are common, they’re not written in stone, and you do ultimately control how much your own children cost you.

Hidden Costs of Raising a Child

Many parents, particularly mothers, take a career break to raise young children in their first years and often up to school age. It’s not like pressing the pause button and resuming play where you left it. Taking an extended break comes with significant costs, some less obvious than others.

1. Lost Income

On the obvious side, you lose out on the income from those years spent outside the workforce.

Imagine a family where both partners work, and upon having their first child, the mother decides to take a career break. They have a second child three years later, and the mom decides to stay at home until the youngest starts kindergarten at age 5.

That’s eight years of lost income. At a median full-time salary of $52,312 calculated by BLS, that comes to $419,496 in lost wages, not including wage growth over the next eight years.

This says nothing of lost retirement benefits, such as 401(k) matching, or lost returns on your own contributions to investments you could have made with that extra income. Compounded over the next 30 years, those lost returns can amount to millions of dollars.

2. Lost Career Momentum & Potential

Beyond the lost years of income, becoming a stay-at-home parent can stunt your career potential.

By the time you’re ready to reenter the workforce, you’ve fallen vastly behind your colleagues who have had many years to climb the corporate ladder. They’ve been advancing and winning promotions, while you’d be lucky to reenter your industry at the same level where you left.

The opportunity cost doesn’t end there, either. In today’s world of disruption and fast-paced change, eight years of falling out of touch with industry trends, best practices, and technological innovations puts you at a deep disadvantage compared to people still in the workforce and up to speed.

The bottom line: parents who take a break of several years from their career may reenter the workforce at a lower level than they left, and advance less over the remainder of their career. While there’s surprisingly little research on this effect, one study by Adzuna found that Brits who took a five-year career break took an average annual salary loss of £9,660 (about $12,500).

3. Less Time for Side Hustles

Even among parents who don’t take a career break, they simply don’t have the same free time to build extra income through a side hustle.

Historically, I spent much of my Saturdays working on either my business or writing. When my daughter was born, that came to an abrupt end, first because I was so sleep-deprived and later because my wife wouldn’t hear of it.

My father told me growing up that the 40-hour workweek was a baseline for survival, and it’s what you do outside those hours that determines your success, particularly in your 20s and 30s.

Although I believe in creating passive income streams and pursuing financial independence, you need to save a lot of money in the beginning to build momentum. That comes from a high savings rate and a high income, which often requires side gigs.

It’s not so easy to run a business on the side of your full-time job when you have young children.

4. Higher Housing Costs

A family of two can share a one-bedroom apartment. A family of three, four, or five? Not so comfortably.

At the time of this writing, Apartment Guide lists the average one-bedroom apartment rent at $1,621, compared to the average two-bedroom apartment rent of $1,878. That’s a difference of $257 per month, or $3,084 per year, just to add one more bedroom.

Larger homes cost more money, whether you rent or buy. And with the extra square footage comes higher utility costs to light, heat, cool, and power the property and everything in it.

They also require more maintenance for homeowners. The larger the roof, the more square footage there is to spring a leak. The larger the lawn and grounds, the more time and/or money they cost to maintain. And so on.

Expect to pay thousands of dollars more each year for a home that can accommodate your children, not just you and your spouse.

5. Transportation Costs

The same logic applies to transportation.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average cost to buy a new compact car is around $20,000. The cost to buy a midsize SUV? A hefty $33,000, representing a 65% increase in cost.

As with housing, the difference in costs doesn’t end at the sticker price. It costs more to insure and fuel a beastly SUV than an efficient compact. When your kids reach their teenage years and start driving, they’ll need car insurance, which many parents pick up.

(Personally, I had to pay for my own as a teenager, and I recommend you do the same with your kids to give them practice earning and budgeting for real world expenses. But I digress.)

Some parents even go so far as to give their teenage kids a car, whether a hand-me-down or buying it for them as a gift.

Again, these costs remain voluntary. But it’s harder to drive your kids, their friends, and their gear to hockey practice in a sporty compact than in a minivan or SUV.

6. Medical Costs

People of all ages need medical care. And in the United States, medical care is expensive, no matter how you approach it.

Higher Health Insurance Premiums

Adding more people to your health insurance plan adds to your monthly premium. Period.

Well, not quite period. Some insurers, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, charge for each additional child up to the first three, then stop charging extra and only charge for the three oldest under the age of 21. Regardless, expect to pay more for family health insurance when you have children than you’d pay as a couple.

You may also decide you need more coverage as a family with kids than you did as a couple. For example, you may opt for dental coverage, or more inclusions, or a lower yearly ceiling on out-of-pocket expenses.

Higher Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Kids get into trouble, break their arms playing soccer, step on rusty nails while running around the neighborhood barefoot. And before they do that, babies require plenty of checkups and medical care of their own.

Every time they visit a doctor, need a prescription filled, or look cross-eyed at the health care system, you can expect to get hit with an out-of-pocket bill. Few health insurance plans cover 100% of all medical expenses with no deductible, and those few charge outrageous premiums.

And kids come with other medical costs. If you don’t want your kids to have crooked teeth, suddenly you find yourself with orthodontist bills. Eye exams, contact lenses, glasses — the list goes on.

Your kids will need plenty of medical care between birth and when they enter the workforce, and you’ll be on the hook for every penny.

7. Lessons, Tutoring, and Other Extracurriculars

If your child has dyslexia, they may need special tutoring to help them learn how to read. Many children need speech therapy as young kids. Many others require academic tutoring at some point or another.

If your kids want to learn an instrument, dive deeper into a sport, or pick up just about any hobby, they’ll need lessons.

Parents always forget to budget for these sorts of expenses until they strike, but kids — and just as often their parents — may want or need more than what resources their school offers for free. And when it happens, you need to be prepared to open your wallet.

8. Baby Paraphernalia

I was shocked and appalled at the amount of baby paraphernalia that flooded our apartment when we had a baby.

At every turn, I fought my wife to stop buying so much stuff. And at every turn, I lost the battle. She insisted on buying every gadget, every “cute” piece of baby clothing, every piece of nursery furniture she could get her hands on. From infrared baby monitors to smart chips that attach to diapers to track vital signs, we have it all.

As a minimalist, it drives me insane. Like so many middle-class parents, we have far more baby items than we need. Eventually, I stopped tallying the cost because it was pushing my cortisol levels through the roof.

You may consider yourself a reasonable human being, vigilant against unnecessary spending. But new parents get both anxious and excited — and their response to both is usually to buy more stuff. When you or your spouse gets pregnant, budget extra for spousal splurges when you try to predict how much it costs to have a baby.

9. Toys and Gifts

Again, parents all too often go wild buying gifts, toys, and unnecessary clothes, all in the name of spoiling their children.

It’s so insidious that many parents go into debt each holiday season. Between gifts, swag, and travel, the average American family spends $1,050 at the holidays according to a 2019 National Retail Federation study reported by USA Today.

You can and should fight the urge. But parents overspend on gifts and toys all the time, so it bears including here.

10. Electronics

Increasingly, kids need electronics for schoolwork, not just as frivolous gifts. In the era of COVID-19, they’ve become mandatory learning tools.

Laptops and tablets aren’t cheap though, and they come with notoriously short lifespans as they slip into obsolescence after a few short years. Between the time a child is old enough to use one and the time they move out and pay their own bills, they’ll likely go through dozens of devices between phones, tablets, laptops, and gadgets that haven’t been invented yet but will be all the rage 15 years from now.

Added together, that comes to tens of thousands of dollars.

11. Travel Costs

My wife and I once looked up the cheapest flights for the following week from our then home. We booked flights to Bulgaria for $160 round trip per person and spent only a few hundred dollars over the entire next week.

That doesn’t happen when you have kids, for several reasons.

First, you can’t just up and go during the travel offseason when you feel like it. Your kids have school, so you have to travel when everyone else and their mother travels: during school holidays. Which means always traveling during the expensive high season.

Second, you have to pay for more, well, everything. More airline tickets. More hotel rooms, or a larger home on Airbnb. And then come the meals, entertainment, entrance passes, and so forth. All of it costs more money.

When you travel with an infant, you can avoid many of those costs. But they don’t stay infants very long, and soon you find yourself traveling with teenagers who insist on doing the exact opposite of what you want to do. So you end up paying to do both.

And good luck doing low-key travel like backpacking or hiking trips with social media-addicted kids and teens.

If you really want to travel the way you used to with your spouse, you end up either having to hire a nanny or ship your kids off to summer camp — both of which cost an arm and a leg in themselves.

12. Life Insurance

Many couples can responsibly dodge life insurance, provided they both work. If the worst happens, the surviving spouse can still pay their bills, albeit with the possible need to downsize.

Add children to the mix, however, and you have more mouths to feed — plus all the other expenses outlined above. Losing one spouse, particularly a primary breadwinner, could tip the family into poverty or at the very least require a massive, painful change in lifestyle.

Having children doesn’t necessarily require you to buy life insurance. I don’t have it, as one of the many side benefits of the FIRE lifestyle. But when you have children, you need to plan for contingencies like losing a spouse, and making sure your family can survive without them.

Often that means a life insurance policy, and even when it doesn’t, you still need a plan in place.


Final Word

Having children is not all financial doom and gloom. Yes, some expenses remain unavoidable, no matter how frugally you live. But many of the expenses above represent average expenses among parents with little financial literacy. You can minimize many of them with a little more awareness, and avoid others entirely.

The costs of raising children also operate on an economy of scale. While you and your spouse don’t want to share a bedroom with your child after the first few months, you can put two children in the same second bedroom, for example. Younger children can benefit from hand-me-downs such as cribs, strollers, and clothes. And once you bite the bullet to buy a minivan, having a third child doesn’t change your transportation needs any further.

It doesn’t have to cost $745,634 to raise a child. But it certainly can if you’re not careful.

Source: moneycrashers.com

It's Time for a Spring Cleaning of Your Mind

After a long, hard year, your mental closet’s looking pretty cluttered. Give your professional life a much-needed reset with this four-step spring cleaning to clear your mind of unnecessary stuff and make way for the things that bring you success.

By

Rachel Cooke
April 12, 2021

Team Renewal session here.

Ready to spring clean your mind? Awesome. Let’s do this!

Set yourself up for success

This exercise can deliver a little value or a ton. If you’re here for a ton, then let’s start by setting you up for maximum success.

A great setup means focusing on three key factors: 

  1. Mindset. Look at this as that opportunity for renewal. Not only is it a chance to let go of anything that isn’t functioning anymore, it’s also an opportunity to dial up the things that are working. The process should feel like a gift, not a chore. Tell yourself this until you believe it.
     
  2. Time. Give yourself time to be reflective. You don’t want to race though this exercise. It should feel thoughtful and intentional. I typically set aside two to three hours, sometimes in a single block, or sometimes in smaller chunks. Whatever works for you is great.
     
  3. Space. Try to clear a space in which you’re unlikely to be distracted. Move physical clutter and ask anyone (big or little) who shares your space to steer clear of you. This isn’t a meditation retreat. Nothing has to be perfect. But try to separate yourself from “real life” as much as you can. 

Now you’re ready. So let’s get you renewed.

Run your renewal

The process I use, both for myself and with my clients, is comprised of four components.

1. Celebrate (and clear out) the past

A great renewal begins with a letting go of what’s non longer serving us. It gives us a clean slate. But letting go can be hard. So I’ve borrowed an insight from Marie Kondo.

A few years ago her “magical” KonMari method of home organizing took the world by storm. And one of the unique tenets of her method is the idea of honoring the past, expressing gratitude for what has served us.

In this HuffPo interview, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Yuko Hanakawa, explains that “By treating your items with respect, kindness and gratitude, you are enhancing the spirit of the given item. … From that perspective…you are respecting the spirit of the items that you’re letting go of with gratitude, instead of getting rid of them with negativity or force.”

I’ve adapted this concept into my own process. This spring renewal process is about, in part, letting go of things no longer serving us. Instead of items we express gratitude to the projects, practices, and habits that helped us get to where we are but are no longer serving a purpose.

So, honor what’s served you previously—find a way to express gratitude for it getting you thiss far. And then find a way to let it go.

For me, in past years, I’ve celebrated but let go of:

  • Working with an amazing coach who had supported me … but who I’d outgrown
  • Reading every how-to book on starting a business … because mine was finally started
  • Offering free introductory sessions to new clients … which I no longer needed to do because I was succeeding

I was able to appreciate the value each of these had delivered for me. Then I thanked them for their service and let them go with grace.

2. Define your Secret Sauce

Now that you’ve cleared out space in your intellectual closest, the next step is to identify what makes you truly stand out.

You want to be clear and purposeful so you can choose a handful of things you really want to dial up.

For me, there’s a lot I can do. I’ve built training programs on various leadership topics and I’ve done it well. I’m a good teacher. But I’ve realized I’m an excellent facilitator. 

I don’t want to just be good; I want to shine. We all deserve to shine.

I can teach a team how to do a thing. But what I really love is facilitating the dialog that enables the team to decide the right thing for them and their organization.

Whether it’s about defining an operating model or determining how best to lead their teams through change, I love providing a framework and then facilitating the build of a powerful action plan.

This is an important insight for me. It helps me focus on which projects and clients to pursue, and which to refer to my amazing colleagues. 

I don’t want to just be good; I want to shine. We all deserve to shine.

So what about you? What do you do well, and what do you do that really knocks people over? Figure out a way to dial up the latter. What do you need more of in your life?

3. Identify detractors

Now let’s identify anything that distracts you from focusing on your secret sauce.

I’m not talking about the quick breaks you take to call a friend or watch a cat video. You deserve those. I’m talking about things you do as part of your workday that are inhibiting, not delivering, value.

Are you spending too many hours a week in meetings that don’t really require you? Managing a dashboard no one looks at? Do you talk too often to a colleague who is grumpy or cynical and might be bringing you down?

Think long and hard about where you’re spending your time and what activities may be keeping you off-purpose.

For me, as my business began to grow, I realized I was spending too much time on administrative work. I finally hired an accountant and am now on the hunt for a virtual assistant. Getting clear on what holds you back can really help inform your choices on how best to move forward.

4. Commit to habits and practices

Finally, it’s time to reflect on what you’ve learned, and to establish some new practices that will keep you on purpose and on track.

Maybe you commit to declining one meeting per week (to start) and see how it feels. Or you decide to repurpose your old “commute time” as listening-to-a-business-podcast time. Maybe you set aside some time each week to network, or an hour a day to walk. Or maybe you start and maintain a Bullet Journal to keep you focused.

This is not an exercise in goal-setting. Your focus should be on specific practices—things you can see (and satisfyingly check off!) once you’ve completed. them

There are no right or wrong answers, as long as you’re making choices with purpose and intention.

Here are some of the practices I’ve personally committed to over the years:

  1. I do quarterly check-ins with each member of my secret circle of mentors
  2. I send a relevant article per week to a past or current client. This keeps me top of mind while adding value for them
  3. I do monthly progress checks against my goals to determine where I’m on track and where I need to make change
  4. I do a weekly personal celebration by listing everything I accomplished that week that left me feeling proud. Celebrating myself keeps me motivated.

And there you have my four-step process for my intellectual spring cleaning. It leaves me refreshed and revived every time.

I hope you’ll take advantage and run your own.

Oh, and a little insider secret: mental spring cleaning works in any season. Any time you’re feeling the slog of overwhelm give this process a try. And let me know how it goes!