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The pros and cons of e-Books and Print books.

I summarized below some of the advantages of both eBooks and Print books. And there could be many others.

For example, printed books may offer a feeling of pride or prestige when you have an impressive library in your office or studio. In the same way, being an earlier adopter of the latest e-Reader, and showing off your latest technological acquisitions may boost your self-image and impress your friends and associates. Or curling up with a good book in front of the fireplace might bring comfort and relieve stress. Or maybe you prefer the smell, feel, and texture of a hardcover book.

But what about the disadvantages of each? Well, in most cases you could just say the advantage of one would be a disadvantage of the other. But what about the impact on your health and well-being?

Eyestrain is already mentioned below; but eBooks add more screen time to your life. In an average week in 2011, for instance, we spent about 28.5 hours watching TV and 2.8 hours watching Internet TV. Add the reading of digital books to that, in addition to weekly computer work, social media, electronic games and surfing websites, and there has to be more than just eyestrain occurring.

In fact, excessive screen time has been associated with sleep problems, headaches, lack of focus and reduced social skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no media use for children younger than 18 to 24 months old. Even six-year olds and older are urged to be limited to two hours a day.

It has also been suggested that comprehension and recall increase when reading Print books as opposed to e-Books.

In one survey on why people read Print books rather than e-Books, some did it to get a break from all the screen time they experienced during the day. They found it more relaxing.

One team at the Boston Consulting Group took a full day a week free of any connectivity at all, and found more enjoyment in their work, better communication among themselves, more learning, and a better product delivered to the client.

Whether you choose to read Print books or e-Books is a matter of personal preference; but when it comes to total screen time, moderation is the best policy.

Personally I read both; but prefer Print books. Since I read so many non-fiction books, and rarely read an entire book, I find it easier to skip, skim and search out specific information from a Print book than an e-Book. I usually buy any Amazon $1.99 Kindle specials that are relevant to my areas of interest for my iPad and iPhone and laptop. Combined with the habit of downloading many of the same e-Books that I have in print, I have a portable library no matter where I travel.

Advantages of e-books

Less expensive to purchase.

Interactive, and can link to dictionary, different translations, websites, and so on.

May have advantages for those with reading disabilities or sight problems since font size, brightness, and words per line can be adjusted.

Lighter and more portable. Can carry over 1000 books in the palm of your hand.

Easier to store, locate, organize the various books.

No shipping cost involved when ordering online.

Easier to travel with books. Require less space.

Advantages of print books.

More comfortable to read, easier on the eyes.

Easier to share, trade or loan.

More visually aesthetic, great for decorating, more attractive and tactile.

Easier on the eyes, less eye strain.

Able to write notes on pages in addition to highlighting.

Make more meaningful gifts.

Greater variety of topics and genres available.

Last longer, vintage books, historical, collectibles.

Easier to flip through the pages searching for information.

Facilitate visual sticky notes to bookmark pages.

In the next blog article I will discuss the future of Print books and E-books. Are we heading for a digital world when it comes to reading or will Print books be making a comeback?

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Add a little more music to your life.

In 2016 I wrote and posted here an article on the power of music that summarized over a dozen benefits of music. It included its beneficial impact on stress, creativity, pain, depression, healing, sleep, fatigue, memory, performance, blood pressure and more.

But music affects different areas of the brain in different ways. For example, sad music can make some people feel sad while not affecting others. A moderate noise level is the sweet spot for creativity while loud noises can impede creativity. Listening to music can drown out fatigue during low or moderate-intensity exercise, but not during high-intensity exercise, and so on.

With music, in some cases it’s a trial and error process of determining what works for you.

Music can actually distract us while driving – although most people believe otherwise. Studies have shown that it is safer not to listen to your favourite music. Drivers listening to their own choice of music made more mistakes and drove more aggressively. It would appear that unfamiliar or uninteresting music is better when it comes to driving safely.

Although the above comments indicate that music is not a panacea for health and happiness, research keeps revealing more and more advantages of introducing music into our lives at any age.

An article from New York Times magazine stated that “surrounding ourselves with music and an environment and décor from our younger years can help keep our attitudes young.

Ephraim P. Engleman, a noted rheumatologist who was still active before he died at 104, when interviewed for an article on aging in the January, 2015 issue of Reader’s Digest, claimed that “playing music is a real stimulus, and very, very good for the soul.”

Research has pointed to the astounding effects of learning an instrument; one study carried out by the Radiological Society of North America found that taking music lessons increases brain fibre connections in children, which is why music is such an important part of learning.

Doctors are recommending that older people learn to play a musical instrument to keep their brain young; much in the way that brain games enhance important skills such as problem solving and creativity, music, too, can keep the brain sharp, staving off memory loss and dementia.

Pat Martino was one of the most original of the jazz-based guitarists to emerge in the 1960s, made a remarkable comeback after brain surgery in 1980 to correct an aneurysm that caused him to lose his memory and completely forget how to play. It took years, but he regained his ability, partly by listening to his older records.

Music is used to rev up spectators at hockey games and other sporting events – so it might rev you up as well if you find life is not as exciting as it used to be.

And anything that helps develop cognitive reserve is worth some time.

 

 

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Cut costs to improve your bottom line.

Back in 2005, Angie Mohr, in her book, Managing Business Growth, claimed that 96% of all small businesses fail within 10 years. Today it isn’t much different. Brian Martucci, in an article posted in Small Business, states that according to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. Richard Legg, in his 2017 book, Hidden Profits, claims that business owners get so caught up in their business that they’re unable to work “on” their business.

As business owners, we must be able to step back from the business and keep tabs on what’s going on. We must spend more time managing the business and spending less time doing what the business does. Most business writers and consultants claim the major cause of business failure is “poor management. “ But according to Dun and Bradstreet, more than 85% of business failures are preventable.

I don’t think it’s so much poor management as it is a lack of management.

For example, if we can’t afford to take the time to learn and apply new ideas, attend workshops, read the latest books and keep up with the times – because we are so busy doing what we are in business to do – our business will soon be in trouble.

A major purpose of a Chamber of Commerce, for example, is to provide its members with information essential to growing strong businesses.  It would be wise for the members to take advantage of the learning opportunities, and to suggest other topics if the information does not meet their specific needs.

I know that one of my problems in running a business was my tendency to spend like crazy when times were good, and then try to cut corners and skimp when business was slow. It took a while to learn that cutting costs, not quality or service, was an ongoing activity that maintained a healthy bottom line, and avoided any cash flow problems when sales dipped.

Checking bank charges to ensure the best plan for your level of activity, switching to fluorescent light bulbs , which are said to use as much as 22% energy, printing on both sides of computer paper, hiring virtual freelancers from websites such as “Upwork,” finding a use for your by-products – there is no end to the possibilities for reducing costs.

It only requires a questioning attitude and the odd brainstorming session with yourself or others, and a commitment to not get so involved in doing the work that you don’t have time to manage the work.

Some of the ideas from my 30-page special “Promotion on a shoestring” report also reduce costs, such as using classified ads instead of display ads, sending out news releases to the media, trimming your product line, including sales pitches with product shipments, and offering downloadable products. In fact anything that increases sales indirectly reduces costs.

This Promotion on a Shoestring report is available for download for $4.95 CDN at our website. Click here for a detailed description of the report.

 

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Work on the critical, the crucial, and the quick.

Always focus on the critical, the crucial and the quick tasks in order to maximize your use of time. Everyone tells us to prioritize or work on important things first or avoid the tyranny of the urgent or to draw a priority grid consisting of four possible combinations of important and urgent items.

But if we see prioritizing as being too complicated or have problems determining which items are the most important, we simply fail to prioritize at all. After all, it’s a lot easier to simply cross items off a “To Do” list – starting with whatever seems most urgent at the time. As a result we tend to get a lot done of questionable value.

It might simplify the process if you think of all tasks and projects worthy of attention as being critical, crucial or quick.

Critical tasks are ones that are both important and urgent, meaning they will have a direct impact on achieving your goals, and simply too valuable to pass up. Work on these right away – in the morning or whenever your energy level is highest.

Crucial tasks are those that will impact your goals and fulfill your commitments and may even be just as important, but are frequently not urgent, and can be scheduled into your planner as commitments on future days.

Quick tasks are those that will take no longer than five minutes, add value to your day, and give you an immediate sense of accomplishment. They are motivational, and the brain thrives on short tasks. These can be worked on during idle time, while waiting or whenever you finish a task earlier than expected. These are the ones that are added to your daily or weekly “To Do” list rather than being scheduled for a specific time.

If you’re always working on tasks or activities that are critical, crucial or quick, the least important, non-urgent, tasks will fall by the wayside. They are the ones that you can leave on a master “To Do” list to die a natural death. They didn’t make the cut.

And who knows, someday you may have extra time on your hands and you can quickly review them to see whether their importance has changed in the interim.

But don’t be concerned with the growing length of this list. It only represents time you have saved by not being involved in trivial things. You have been working on the critical, the crucial, and the quick.

 

 

 

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Making time to sell

In no profession is time management more important than in sales. For a salesperson, the greatest resource is the time available for customer contact.

All the selling skills in the world are to no avail if there is not enough time to put those skills into practice. Today’s salespeople are spending the majority of their time on activities other than sales, according to a recent article in Forbes magazine. According to the January, 2018 article by Ken Krogue, nearly 2/3 of a rep’s time, on average, is spent in non-revenue-generating activities, leaving only 35.2% for functions related to selling.

Time management for salespersons should not involve rushing the sale, but reducing the amount of time spent on the other activities, thereby leaving more time for face-to-face selling. Time tips that work for manufacturing or finance people will also work for salespeople.

Everyone’s time is valuable, but the value of the salesperson’s time notably so because it translates directly into increased income for the company and for the salesperson.

James F. Bender, in How to Sell Well, reports that the seven most oft-mentioned weaknesses of salespersons as identified by a life insurance company are as follows:

  1. Failure to utilize time at work.
  2. Failure to organize work.
  3. Failure to plan work.
  4. Failure to use enough selling time.
  5. Failure to use enough product information.
  6. Failure to use enough effort.
  7. Failure to prospect for new business.

Many of these weaknesses would disappear if salespeople would organize themselves and better utilize the time at their disposal. Some sales managers note that out-of-town sales trips result in more calls per day and more sales than an equivalent amount of time spent in the home town.

Could it be that time is managed more carefully out of town? There’s no doubt that everyone is aware of the cost of travel, the limited amount of time available in this distant city, and the deadline imposed by the return airline ticket. There are also fewer distractions – little opportunity for friendly chit-chat over coffee, elongated lunches, trivial errands, or unnecessary phone calls.

Out-of-town trips seem to have a sense of urgency attached to them, and an incentive to give it your best shot. After all, it’s not easy to make a repeat call the next day and carry on where you left off.

But the increased effectiveness out of town is probably due more to the planning. Calls and routes are planned well in advance; appointments are made and confirmed; time allotted to the calls is kept to a minimum to accommodate more calls; additional prospects are listed in the event of a last-minute cancellation or an abbreviated meeting; only prime, “A” class prospects are included on the call list; the full day’s “selling time” is utilized; and preparation has been done the day or night before.

In other words, time is managed the way it should be managed. There is a tendency to lose respect for time when you’re “at home.” And if you don’t respect your time, your customer or prospect certainly won’t respect your time.

Next week, pretend you’re not at home. Manage your time and territory as though you have only this one opportunity to reap the sales. Then compare the results.

If you feel that you need help to utilize your time more effectively whether at home or out of town, read my e-book, Time to be productive, published by Bookboon.com, review the ideas, and apply those that will help free up time. You will find that time will be your ally, not your enemy.

Technology has opened new opportunities to increase personal productivity and free up more time for selling. Although it takes an initial investment of time to learn how to set up contact management software and databases and fully take advantage of high tech devices, the return is great.

Do not resist technology, embrace it. Never stop searching for new ways to save time. It’s not enough to be able to sell: you must have time to sell.

 

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Plan for a purposeful retirement.

The trouble with steady, full-time jobs for over 40 years or more is that we become associated with our job. We know as much about our fellow workers’ families as we do about our own. We make friends at work, learn skills at work, receive enjoyment and self-esteem at work – and for many of us, work consumes the greater portion of us – our time, our energy, our thoughts and our physical presence.

When we retire, we have a problem because all of that is suddenly taken away from us.

During your working days people ask “What do you do? After retirement, they ask “What did you do?”

Retirement is not as much an end as it is a beginning to a new stage in life where your increased freedom allows you to more fully examine your life purpose and to explore new fields of involvement.

People who retire, die sooner. It’s a fact. Researchers looked at employees of a global oil company who retired early at 55 and those who retired at the traditional 65. The early retirees were 89% more likely to die within the 10 years after retirement than those who retired at 65.

I would wager that most of those who survive longer are those who plan ahead, and have something to retire to – whether it is part-time consulting, a new business, an extensive travel itinerary or a volunteer position with a non-profit organization.

When you retire from a job; you should never retire from making contributions, whether through volunteering, mentoring or helping others in some other way.

The first two thirds of our lives, for the most part, have been a time and getting. Getting a job, getting possessions, getting a house, getting a family, getting new friends and new adventures. The final third of our lives needs to be primarily a time for giving. Giving our time, energy, financial resources, skills and talents.

Do something that will give you a reason to get out of the bed in the morning – something that will give purpose to your retirement. As Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. “It’s important to be actively serving others for your own mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being.

It has been proven that when people feel they are making a difference, they are happier. Through MRI technology, researchers have discovered that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Helping others can make us healthier, happier, and more productive, more fulfilled and even increase our longevity.

A study published by BMC Public health concluded that taking time to volunteer could reduce early mortality rates by 22% compared to those who do not volunteer.

Retirement gives you the opportunity to focus on things that are really important.

If you have already retired, it’s still not too late to plan your future. But you must stay alive by participating in life. You are never old until you start spending more time on past memories than on future goals.

The trouble with having nothing to do is that you never know when you’re done. And if your job is doing nothing, how can you ever take a day off? Activity is one of the keys to longevity.

Finally, don’t become obsessed with the idea of being remembered. Some people seem to seek immortality by having something named after them, whether it is a building, scholarship, park bench or whatever. The people who really matter to you will never forget you. The people who do forget you are not the people who matter to you.

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Time is the currency of life.

Don’t make your job your whole life. If you become too focused on picking the fruit you may miss the flowers that are there as well. Always keeping busy at your work not only keeps you from working smart, it keeps you from fully enjoying life.  Participating in other things and enjoy what life itself has to offer. There is an old anonymous saying, “The work will wait while you show a child the rainbow; but the rainbow won’t wait until you do the work.”

You are not what you do. If you believe you are what you do, when you don’t, you aren’t. Someday you will no longer be able to do what you do now – either due to retirement, infirmity or whatever. Everyone should love their job; but not to the extent that they are unable to find happiness doing anything else.

Life doesn’t really begin at 40 any more than it ends at 65. I think as an octogenarian I am qualified to say this – at least as a personal observation. One thing I have observed is that some retirees adjust poorly to their new environment and lifestyle. And I believe that the reason that many of them do poorly when facing major changes such as retirement, moving to the country or taking up residence in a senior’s home is that they are unable or reluctant to change the way they use their time. They are too firmly entrenched in the work – sleep – work cycle. And when the work is gone, what is left to replace it?

For example, when I moved from a condo in the city of Toronto to an apartment in the small town of Sussex, New Brunswick, I didn’t expect I would be enjoying stage plays or attending the same church or taking the subway to an underground shopping mall or golfing with my best friend or taking in the odd afternoon movie. If I did, I would be miserable; because none of those things are readily available to me – not the same neighbours or same friends or the familiar coffee shop where I spent a lot of time or one of my sons who had lived just a few miles away.

But within a year, I had made new friends, participated regularly in new activities, joined a new church, volunteered in different organizations, and have a different favorite coffee shop where I do the biggest chunk of my writing.

You must be willing to change the way you use your time – not on worse things, just on different things. True happiness does not come from the things you do or the people you meet or where you live. True happiness comes from within, not from specific things that you may have spent your life doing.

It’s easier to get involved in other things after retirement if you’ve being more flexible with your use of time during your working years. I started my career as a workaholic – dedicated fully to my job to the detriment of my family life and social life. Books I read, workshops I attended, trips I took – all revolved around the career I was committed to at the time.

Perhaps it was the broken marriage, the bleeding ulcers and the failing part-time business that first got my attention – and prompted some major changes in my mindset.

That resulted in my lifetime purpose – my calling – to help others manage their time and their lives. But more important, it introduced me to the real source of joy – the happiness within – the one who does the calling – God Himself.

It didn’t take me a year to feel comfortable in my new surroundings. My faith is the source of my strength, my lifestyle and my attitude as well as my purpose in life. I believe we are all created for a purpose and it’s up to us to discover it. The bible tells us that we are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It’s difficult to discover our purpose by keeping our nose to the grindstone, working from dawn to dusk. That would only give us a flat nose.

We must explore life on a daily basis, open our minds and hearts to relationships, nature, hobbies and other outside interests as well as our spirituality.

Don’t spend all your time on one activity until the day you retire. Time is the currency of life. Spend it wisely.

 

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Increase the effectiveness of your training.

When it comes to learning, it has been shown that the more senses that are involved, the better you learn – regardless of your so-called “learning style.” For instance everyone learns better when they’re moving. Motion engages more parts of the brain. So does emotion. Showing, telling, doing, storytelling, visuals, sounds, smells all aid in the learning process.

There were studies done where the researchers separated subjects in a room into three groups. The first group got information through one sense only – example, hearing. The second group was limited to another sense, say sight. And the final group was exposed to both sight and sound. This third group always did better. They had more accurate recall, and their problem-solving skills improved. The combination of senses was always greater than the sum of their parts. Here are a few ways to engage the senses.

The use of stories in training.

Roger Shank, a cognitive scientist, says that humans are not set up to understand logic; but are set up to understand stories. Facts are readily available on the Internet as well as in your workshops. What matters, according to Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact.

Facts and suggestions, no matter how logical or practical they may be, are frequently ignored or forgotten. But include these same facts in a true story or example, enriched with emotion, and people can immediately relate, remember, and frequently put into practice. Stories are essential to the learning process.

Demonstrations aid the learning process.

Demonstrations, especially when they actively involve the participants, are effective teaching tools. For example, when explaining prioritizing and the 80/20 Rule, I sometimes make the point by tossing 80 one-dollar bills and 20 twenty-dollar bills on the floor. (I use phony “Dollar Store” money; but if you’re wealthy, the real thing has an even greater impact.)

Then I tell a couple of volunteers to pick up all they can in 5 seconds, picking up only one bill at a time. Most people zero in on the twenties. But they don’t actually do that in their own jobs or personal lives when it comes to the important projects & tasks.

Know your participants.

Getting individuals involved even before the actual training, generates more interest, lends credibility to the training, and assures that you deliver information and strategies relevant to their needs.

If training people in time management, for instance, you might develop a time waster checklist or a survey sheet to identify their problems, and ask for their objectives in taking the program.

For a more complete discussion of this topic, refer to my eBook, “How to increase the effectiveness of your training,” published by Bookboon.com.

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Procrastination or intentional delay?

In a regular chess game you would be foolish to make it lightning fast move when you have the time to think over the possible repercussions of such a move. But in hockey, deliberating for any length of time over whether you should pass or shoot could mean a lost opportunity to score. There are situations that call for quick action and ones that call for delay.

In hockey, you wouldn’t call the lost opportunity to score due to passing instead of shooting, procrastination. It might be better described as an error in judgment or even a wrong guess. But in either case, the player’s action was a result of an earnest intent to get a goal for his or her team, not the result of inertia, disinterest, a lack of motivation or fear of making the wrong decision. Perhaps an older, more experienced player would make the correct decision; but then again, a younger more experienced goalie might stop the park regardless.

Similarly in business, there is a time for action and a time for delay. But if you delay in responding immediately to a derogatory or sarcastic email rather than snap back with an equally unflattering response, you wouldn’t call that procrastination. You would call it intentional delay. There is a time for quick action and a time for delay, depending on the situation. Launching a new product before first doing adequate market research is not procrastination. Neither is editing a manuscript before submitting it to a publisher or rehearsing a sales presentation before visiting a prospect. Delay is sometimes essential to success.

Probably more problems are caused by making decisions too quickly than by waiting too long. This is especially true in this digital age of speed, when we are being urged to think fast, act fast and make split-second decisions.

This “act now or else” mentality puts one under undue stress – the consequences of which could far exceed that of a lost sale or other missed opportunity.

Frank Portnoy, author of the book, “Wait: the art & science of delay,” not only believes that technology is speeding up all our decisions in an unhealthy way, but also has researched the impact of delay and has found that people are often happier and more effective in their decisions when they do delay – and even when they procrastinate.

I’m not in favour of procrastination if you define it as putting off something that requires immediate attention. But there’s nothing wrong with intentionally delaying something if you feel it would be to your advantage to do so.

It’s important for us to think before we react so that we are at least aware of the possible consequences of our actions. It also gives us time to “cool down” (such as the case of replying to an infuriating email message) and to have peace about our decision. In other words, be effective, not reactive.

Being impulsive and cause problems – especially in this hyper-connected world where people can become addicted to speed.  Practising self-discipline, on the other hand, can improve over time.

Continually putting off an important decision, even though you already have sufficient facts to make an informed decision, is procrastination. Even if there are no dire consequences of doing so, it produces a certain degree of anxiety, and delays any benefits derived from the decision. And delays in this case are likely motivated by an unwarranted fear of making the wrong decision or being overwhelmed by busyness or simply not wanting to do what the decision would require one to do as a result.

But there is nothing wrong with leaving something until a more convenient time if it’s not imperative to do it now. That’s simply intentional delay for a good reason. Don’t put yourself on a guilt trip every time you do this.

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Let the rest of your life be the best of your life.

Every goal you set, by definition, is in the future; but life occurs in the present. Don’t be so focused on what you are aiming to accomplish that you miss the joy of living in the now. There is an old anonymous saying, “The work will wait while you show a child the rainbow; but the rainbow won’t wait until you do the work.”

Life is a precious gift. What a shame if you’re too busy to fully unwrap it. Don’t let “Enjoy life” be the last item on your “To do” list. What’s the sense of having it all if you only have time to enjoy a little of it?

Susan Pinker, (www.SusanPinker.com) author of the book, “The village effect,” is a developmental psychologist who is spent 25 years in clinical practice and teaching psychology at Dawson College and McGill University. Her research concluded that our human connections have a huge impact on our well-being and physical health – even to the point of extending our lives. She claims that women live an average of six years longer than men because they tend to prioritize spending time with friends more than men do.

The full benefit is only achieved through person-to-person contact, not through social media, email or texting. Pinker says that face-to-face interaction (even making eye contact, shaking hands or giving high fives) lowers your cortisone levels and releases dopamine, making you less stressed and giving you a little high.

One of the most important things in finding true happiness and meaning in our lives, according to author Emily Esfahani Smith (“The power of meaning”) is a sense of belonging – having people in your life who truly love and care about you.

Staying socially engaged affects your cognitive functioning and keeps your cells from aging too fast. Research indicates that the more social connections you have, the greater your ability to fight infection and keep your cells from aging too quickly.

Relationships are protective against dementia and Alzheimer’s, lengthens your life, and help you cope with traumas such a serious illness or loss of loved one.

Isolation, on the other hand, can have a negative impact on your health, and people who feel lonely are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The very things that make us thrive – relationships, nature, exercise, and healthy eating – are at risk if we continue to focus on creating a better life for ourselves and not leaving ample time to enjoy the one we already have.

The best time of your life should be right now.